Each year, personal protective equipment (PPE) helps keep millions of employees safe at work. From goggles to steel-toe boots, PPE is a vital part of any safety plan. OSHA requires the use of PPE to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not effective. However, enforcing its use and addressing worker objections can often be a challenge for employers. Here are 5 tips to help overcome these obstacles and create a safer workplace:
Lead by Actions
One of the best ways to motivate employees is to lead by example. If you aren’t willing to use personal protective equipment yourself than you can’t expect your employees to use it either. It’s difficult to trust someone who says one thing but does another. So put on that hard hat when you’re on the work site and demonstrate the importance of safety in the workplace.
Educate Employees on Why PPE is Important
When employees know the reasoning behind a certain policy, they are much more likely to adhere to it. Rather than just handing workers a face mask and telling them to put it on, let your employees know why they need to use each specific type of personal protective equipment for their job. Inform them of the dangers of not using it, and emphasize the impact of PPE on worker safety and health.
Keep Open Communication
Listening to your employees can make a world of difference. Involve employees in discussions concerning which specific PPE brands, colors and models to purchase since they’ll be the ones using it during the work day. Ask employees how satisfied they are with the PPE you provide, and what recommendations they have for the next time you purchase PPE. Address complaints promptly, and keep open communication with employees in an effort to provide the most comfortable and appealing equipment possible.
Use the Right Equipment
Use equipment that is easy to clean, maintain and replace. Or opt for equipment that is disposable. The easier personal protective equipment is to use the more likely employees will use it. Since cleaning and maintaining is all part of PPE use, choose equipment that makes these aspects of its use as simple as possible. You can also eliminate the need for cleaning and maintenance by purchasing disposable equipment. Similarly, non-disposable equipment should be easy to replace. If you run out of PPE that’s not easily replaceable, you lose valuable production time searching for new equipment.
Over time people have a tendency to become complacent when they have to perform the same procedure on a daily basis. If you don’t enforce your PPE policies each and every day employees may begin to use their equipment improperly, or even forgo its use altogether. Make sure to have a written PPE policy in place, and check in on employees to ensure they are using their PPE properly and consistently. It only takes failing to use PPE one time for an injury or fatality to occur.