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Top reasons (and solutions) employees do not wear PPE

One of the top safety issues for most employers is the consistent use of personal protective equipment (PPE). A Kimberly-Clark professional survey taken at the 2007 National Safety Council Congress and Expo found that discomfort was the most common reason for not using PPE. A good solution is to involve employees in the selection. Have a select group that is representative of employees using the gear try different samples and test it. It may be that more than one style is needed to accommodate the comfort of the workforce.

The second most common reason is believing that PPE is not necessary for the task. Employees may have performed the same task for many years and never been injured. Showing employees videos of what can happen or having someone who sustained an injury speak to the group is the most effective way to combat this excuse. Next is the concern that PPE is unattractive or does not fit properly. If employees are content with their appearance, they will be more likely to use PPE. Increasingly, manufacturers are looking to improve style; offering some options in color and style can increase use.

Other common excuses are that there was not enough time or they did not know. Training practices and procedures can address both of these issues; however they alone are not the solution. Supervisors should adopt a culture that work is not allowed to start until PPE is on. Constant reinforcement is key. If it is taking excessive time to don the gear, employers need to drill down and determine why.