PPE is the hot topic right now and for good reason; it is one of the best ways that you can mitigate the direct exposure to hazards for employees and workers in general. PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment, and the term covers a wide range of different clothing and equipment in a lot of different fields from Healthcare to Construction.
Benefits of PPE include the reduced likelihood of long-term illnesses, serious damage from potential workplace incidents, and of course better compliance with both internal and external health and safety systems.
Despite the benefits of PPE and the huge range there is, many health and safety professionals find that enforcing the proper use of the equipment is a task that takes up all too much time in the workplace. In this article, we break down some practical steps you can take to improve the PPE uptake in your business regardless of the industry that you operate in.
What to do if employees keep not wearing personal protective equipment
1. Put up clear and visible signage reminders about PPE
This one may seem obvious, but you would be surprised on the impact that it can make. If workers are regularly reminded that they must wear PPE such as hardhats and high-vis jackets, it increases the likelihood of them doing it as a matter of course; tapping into the power of habit and muscle memory. Another benefit of including signage on PPE is that it can show a demonstration of how and when the equipment is to be worn.
2. Reinforce workers positively who are wearing PPE
If you have already invested in signage reminding your workers to wear PPE, you should start to monitor those who are wearing it and praising them. A lot of research has shown that positive reinforcement works much better than a hypercritical approach. Whilst it is important that workers understand the seriousness of wearing the correct PPE at the correct time, having more of a positive and warm approach will reinforce the wearing of PPE in the minds of employees, increasing the uptake of PPE in the future.
3. Try to discourage the hostile criticism of not wearing PPE
Leading on from the previous point, when it comes to those not wearing PPE, try to avoid heavy criticism where possible. This can demotivate workers and cause them to feel alienated in the working environment. Try to encourage them to wear it with a more positive attitude, praising them on the occasions that they do wear the right equipment.
4. Make sure the PPE you use is comfortable and practical
There is only so much that you can do as a health and safety professional to encourage people to wear PPE. If it is uncomfortable and impractical there will always be resistance to wearing it. Therefore, all PPE must fit well, is easy to put on and does not deteriorate the worker’s condition over time. Investing in comfortable PPE has been shown to increase the overall adoption of protective equipment.
Getting comfortable PPE may seem simple but it can be a challenge, particularly if you have budgets to meet within your organisation. However, we recommend teaming up with high-quality suppliers of PPE as it will make your job a lot easier when it comes to making sure the equipment is worn correctly. Arc Flash PPE for example will need to be tailored to both male and female body types in order to prove functional and comfortable.