Safety managers face a variety of road blocks when it comes to getting workers to wear their PPE. This post is for those frustrated safety managers. We wanted to help figure out some ways to encourage workers to keep their PPE on. So we asked four of our Territory Managers for some expert advice, since they see these problems everyday.
1. Be Proactive, Not Reactive:
Too often, if a worker isn’t wearing their gloves, nothing will happen. Because of this, wearing the assigned PPE may not seem like a big deal until someone gets hurt and it’s too late.
When it comes to hand protection, it’s important to take a proactive approach from the start. Don’t wait to react when an accident happens. An effective way to be proactive is to incorporate Toolbox Talks into your regular safety program. These informal meetings focus on safety topics related to specific jobs, like best safety practices or safety hazards. The aim of these meetings is to be short and informal. Starting at the first few minutes of the day, it’s an effective refresher for workers and can remind them that safety is at the forefront of your mind and promote it with your employees.
Along with hand protection, here are some other common infractions to watch out for, based on OSHA’s top ten most frequent citations.
2. Assemble a Team to Test Out the Gear Beforehand:
One of the things we hear most from safety managers is that when their workers don’t wear PPE, it’s because they don’t like it. There’s only so much “tough love” that you can give your workers. Tell them to “suck it up and wear your PPE” too often will lead to workers feeling disrespected.
One of the easiest and best things you can do to prevent your workers from wearing ineffective or uncomfortable PPE is to test drive it. That way you get feedback straight from the source and you can make sure the equipment will stand up to the jobs your workers perform daily.
You can even have your team vote on their preferred pieces of equipment. This will make employees feel valued about their opinions. It will also make them less likely to complain about disliking the PPE, since they chose it.
Our sampling program can help with this.
3. Explain the Risks:
Along with using the informal Toolbox Talk approach, safety managers should include regular formal talks with employees. Take these opportunities to promote a safety culture and explain the risks associated with certain jobs. Younger or newer workers may not fully understand the risks associated with a job. Even if they were trained on a machine or task during their first week, chances are they have missed a step that could be crucial.
You can also incorporate a program to document worker infractions. Explain the risks if they are caught without the proper PPE and that they can be written up and depending on the circumstances, terminated if they do not adhere to the workplace’s PPE requirements.
Not only does taking the time to speak with your employees about risks result in a healthy work environment, but communicating with employees directly typically brings everyone closer together.
Which brings us to our last point…
4. Communicate with Employees:
From speaking with safety managers we’ve learned that it all boils down to open communication. As a safety manager, you need to listen to your employees concerns. Involved them in the selection and decision-making process will greatly improve safety.
A quarterly review of glove standards with the Health and Safety team is a great tactic to put in place. Try asking the question, “How can we improve and/or increase compliance?” to the workers. This way, you can address and analyze near misses together, and brainstorm ways to prevent them from happening in the future.
Take safety into your own hands: use these strategies to make your workplace a much safer place!
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