Let’s Get Personal – about Safety, That Is

It’s hot.

It doesn’t fit right.

I just don’t need it.

Heard personal protective equipment complaints like these before? Employees’ whining, excuses and outright refusals to comply can be enough to make you want to throw up your hands and say, “I give up!”

But you know you can’t do that. You have a responsibility to maintain a safe, OSHA-compliant work environment for your team. Beyond being the right thing to do, creating a safe workplace:

  • minimizes accidents, injuries and illnesses;
  • keeps workers’ comp costs under control;
  • improves morale, productivity and profitability.

And as you’re well aware, personal safety equipment (also known as personal protective equipment or PPE) is essential to keeping your workers safe. So what should you do when workers balk at wearing it? Below, PrideStaff shares practical tips for addressing complaints – and increasing compliance:

  • Explain why it’s necessary. Educate workers on the ways injuries and illnesses occur – and how PPE is their best line of defense. When employees understand the “why,” they’re more likely to comply.
  • Acknowledge the difficulty. Sometimes, a little empathy goes a long way. Tell your workers that you realize that safety equipment can be uncomfortable or a hassle. But then, reiterate the reasons they absolutely need to wear it.
  • Pay attention to fit, comfort and wearability. Anything from eyeglasses to beards to skin conditions can make wearing PPE a challenge for workers. To prevent problems, make sure that the PPE you assign is adjusted to fit the wearer and to reasonably accommodate special requirements.
  • Invest in the right equipment. If your equipment is old or damaged, purchasing newer, more comfortable PPE could automatically reduce objections and increase participation and compliance. Periodically take inventory of your equipment and automatically replace outdated or worn-out items. When evaluating new purchases, ask your workers for their input. If they have a hand in choosing brands, colors and models, they’ll be much more likely to wear it.
  • Find out the real reasons for the objections. Is the equipment ill-fitting? Restrictive? Heavy? Use your communication skills to determine the underlying problems employees have. Take legitimate complaints seriously, and address them on a case-by-case basis.
  • Lead by example. When you’re at work, don the right PPE for the job. If your employees see you making the effort, it sends them a strong message about the importance of safety in your workplace.
  • Create a formal PPE policy. If you haven’t already, put your requirements in writing and add them to your employee handbook. Then, require all employees to read and sign a statement acknowledging their understanding and willingness to comply. Finally, enforce your policy consistently. Remember, just one instance of non-compliance can result in an illness, injury or worse.

At PrideStaff, we work hard to ensure the safety and success of our temporary employees.  Contact us today to learn more about our strategic staffing solutions, and to find out how we can help you create a safer workplace.