Construction workers wearing PPE

Top Excuses For Not Wearing PPE

“They’re uncomfortable.” “I look stupid.” “I’ve never needed it before.” “It’s not required.” “I can’t find it.” “I don’t have the time.” “It won’t happen to me.” “I don’t want to.” “I forgot.”

Sounds like excuses often given by teenagers, doesn’t it? However, these are the most common excuses provided by workers who fail to wear required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the workplace.

In a Kimberly-Clark Professional survey, over 80% of safety professionals observe workers failing to wear required PPE. Even though OSHA mandates PPE when hazards are present, most workers injured on the job were not wearing the required PPE at the time of the injury.

Eliminating Excuses For Not Wearing PPE

Excuses – whether from teenagers or adults – often come as avoidance of taking responsibility. They often come when someone feels they have no choice. Or, they come when someone doesn’t understand why they should do something. Sometimes, excuses originate from a lack of motivation to change habits. Addressing these issues is crucial in the battle against PPE noncompliance.

According to EHS Today, “most refusals for not wearing PPE in the workplace stem from poor management, communication and training.”

In other words, overcoming excuses for not wearing PPE requires educating and verifying understanding. It also means involving employees in the PPE selection process.

Educate & Verify Understanding

According to Kimberly-Clark, more than half of noncompliance comes from workers who thought they did not need PPE. This lack of knowledge points to the importance of educating and clarifying safety regulations.

Implementing a safety program decreases safety incidents by over half. However, checking for understanding is essential to their success. That involves taking the extra step of obtaining worker signatures after training stating their understanding of the material presented.

Employers must also educate employees on the consequences of noncompliance. This training includes showing workers what happens when accidents occur by discussing real-life scenarios involving injured workers who failed to wear the required PPE. Finally, employers must follow through with discipline when workers don’t wear the necessary PPE.

Construction Workers PPE

Getting employees involved in choosing PPE increases the chances of compliance.

Get Workers Involved In Choosing PPE

In addition to educating and verifying understanding, getting workers involved in selecting PPE also increases the likelihood of compliance. If PPE is uncomfortable or unattractive, worker compliance decreases even if they know it’s required. Worker involvement addresses these and other top excuses given for noncompliance.

“Research has shown that comfort and style are major drivers for compliance with PPE protocols.” As a result, says the Kimberly-Clark study, “In the current economic climate it is more important than ever to invest in PPE that workers will want to wear.”

Getting workers involved also lessens problems that arise with imposed PPE compliance. Worker involvement reduces the frustration when employees have no way to discuss questions and concerns about PPE requirements.

“If workers don’t understand why they need to wear PPE or don’t have a say in choosing it,” says Health and Safety at Work, “they are more likely to refuse to use it than if they are properly trained and involved.”

No Excuses For Not Wearing PPE

"Uncomfortable. Unfashionable. Unnecessary. Unavailable. Unaware. Unconcerned."

The above words are the top excuses for why workers don’t wear the required PPE. Fortunately, many resolve this by educating employees about PPE’s importance and ensuring they fully understand those reasons. Any remaining excuses likely fall away by getting workers involved in the PPE selection process.

Overcoming excuses for not wearing PPE involves vigilance. Employees must stay constantly aware that PPE is the last line of defense and must be taken seriously.

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