02/11/2004

Enforcing PPE Use

You've conducted a hazard assessment, identified personal protective equipment
requirements, and trained your employees, but they don't always wear their PPE.
Sooner or later, their failure to use PPE will lead to an injury.

How do you get employees to wear assigned PPE? Your goals to accomplish this
include:


  • Getting employees to understand the need for PPE and to recognize the
    control they have over their own safety.
  • Getting employees to think about safety every day so they wear assigned
    PPE.

First of all you should implement all feasible engineering, work practice, and
administrative controls to reduce or eliminate hazards before using PPE. When
such controls are not feasible or effective, provide appropriate PPE that
properly fits the workers, communicate PPE selection decisions, and require
workers to use and maintain it in sanitary and reliable condition. However,
getting employees to actually wear PPE is often a problem.

Typically, employers address PPE use through training, incentives, and
enforcement.

The first Step: Training

Training should introduce employees to PPE use and establish the need for PPE.
Training not only should help employees understand why they need to wear PPE,
but also should encourage them to use it. In addition to communicating the
regulatory requirements, inform employees about the hazards of not wearing PPE.

Retraining

When you believe a trained employee does not have the understanding and skill
to use PPE properly, you need to retrain that employee.

Incentive Programs

Safety incentive programs can encourage employees to wear PPE. The program
should make them feel responsible for safety and encourage co-workers to look
out for one another and point out unsafe behaviors. Managers and supervisors
should set the example by always wearing appropriate PPE for the work area.

The Final Option: Enforcement

Enforcement is the last line of defense, but is no less important. Enforcement
comes last because when you discipline an employee for not wearing PPE, you
have already missed the goal: getting the employee to wear it in the first
place.

The Bottom Line

A PPE program sets procedures for selecting, providing, and using PPE. A
written PPE program is easier to establish and maintain as company policy. It
is also easier to evaluate than an unwritten one. Employers need to decide how
to enforce PPE use, provide for any required medical examinations, and evaluate
the PPE program.

Your program should incorporate training requirements, incentives, and
enforcement into a comprehensive plan to protect employees. After all,
protecting employees and preventing injuries is the ultimate goal. How you go
about doing this may vary, but remember that the responsibility lies both on
employees to follow the rules and on the employer to enforce the rules through
training, incentives, and discipline.

Further Information


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