For outsiders looking into the field of health and safety, it is easy to conclude that it is a bogged down industry up to its eyeballs in regulation and compliance measurements. Scratch below the surface and you realise that the field involves so much more with new thinking in the way of behavioural safety and occupational health initiatives.
None the less compliance is still an issue that needs to be considered when operating as a health and safety professional. The PPE regulations look to encourage the proper wearing and management of Personal Protective Equipment and unfortunately many who work in industries like construction and factory work report that protective equipment is often not worn, or atleast not worn correctly.
Increasingly the field of health and safety is turning into the impact that good wellbeing policies can have on the uptake of PPE in the workplace. But why does this help?
1. Nurturing wellbeing in workers encourages them to seek out PPE advice
Wellbeing drives on worksites have gotten somewhat of a bad rap as people feel they are attempting to patch over an issue rather than getting to the root cause. Whilst this may be true if conducted in the right way it can encourage workers to take more responsibility for their own wellbeing.
If construction workers become more aware of their diet, start exercising more, practice mindfulness techniques, they may be more conscious of how their workplace can affect their health. Many health and safety officers report that workers starting to foster their own wellbeing are proactive in seeking out PPE and willing to be educated on how best to wear it. This change in behaviour then directly links to better compliance in PPE regulations.
2. Wellbeing and occupational health practices increase worker engagement
Occupational health practices may be viewed by some as a narrow measure that attempts to deal with health issues that may crop in certain industries. Contrastingly, however, it can be a means to expand workers to the idea of personal wellbeing. Say, for example, a routine medical to evaluate hearing levels in workers returns other health issues and makes workers aware of them. This can save the lives of some who would have never gone to the hospital, and never known about the underlying health condition. This has been shown to increase engagement and help workplaces conform to PPE regulations.
3. Better PPE compliance helps support the wider society
The PPE regulations were introduced to try and reduce the severity and number of health-related incidents that could arise in different workplaces. However, the potential positive impact of PPE wearing goes beyond the workplaces. If worn correctly, it helps to reduce the number of health issues that can develop in workers over time. This reduces the burden on national health services and creates a positive impact on the wider society.
Take a holistic approach to increase worker compliance with PPE
We’ve all been told we need to have a holistic approach in health and safety to try and deal with the plateau in safety improvement, but what does it mean? It’s easy to view it as hollow advice that could be applied to any industry and many different aspects of life but when it comes to PPE regulatory compliance safety officers have seen tangible results.
If you encourage workers to take care of themselves through wellbeing support practices, they are more likely to seek out advice on how to wear the equipment correctly as a means of further protecting their health. This can only be a good thing for the PPE regulations in health and safety.