Tip to Ensure Employees Use Their Personal Protective Equipment
 Feb. 28, 2012

We are way past that time when personal protective equipment (PPE) was considered optional. When an engineering or administrative control is not feasible OSHA requires the use of PPE to reduce your employee's exposure to hazards in the work place. If PPE is going to be used, you need to have a PPE program in place. This program should outline the hazards present in your operation and use of PPE to address that hazard. Your program should also address the training of employees in the use of PPE and how you will monitor your employees' use of PPE. Along those lines, here are some tips to help you ensure PPE is being used.

    Have a use policy. Establish and enforce a policy requiring the use of required PPE. Make sure all employees are aware of the rules and the consequences of noncompliance. Certainly ensure that the potential for injury or illness is the chief consequence.

    Talk about PPE routinely in safety meetings. Identify hazards and explain how specific PPE will protect against those hazards.You might ask employees to give their reasons for wearing PPE. These will likely include getting home safe and avoiding a lifelong disability or disfigurement.

    The modern workforce is very health conscious. Employees exercise, eat right, and get regular medical checkups for their health. Encourage them to wear PPE as part of their personal health practices.

    Ask employees about any issues they might have concerning PPE. Listen to complaints about using PPE and make action plans to address any viable complaints.

    Post large signs indicating what PPE is required in each work area.Compare the use of PPE to the protections employed by professional athletes. Football players wear helmets, hockey players wear pads and baseball players wear batting helmets. They do this to reduce the chance of injury. Why wouldn't your employees also use PPE to protect themselves?

    Make sure supervisors monitor the use of PPE and don't overlook any noncompliance on the part of any employee for any reason.

    You probably have other strategies to encourage PPE the use of PPE and ensure you are maintaining a safe workplace. But, whichever strategy you employ, make sure that you're pointing towards and achieving the goal of 100% compliance with the use of PPE. Nothing less than complete use is acceptable.

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