Don’t be hard-headed. Wear your PPE
Organisations may use a variety of safety programmes and have policies to help curb the frequency and severity of workplace accidents. These may, however, create further confusion among employees. THATO TINTE explores common misconceptions around personal protective equipment (PPE).
Personal protective equipment forms an essential part of any organisation’s safety plan. In addition to saving lives in the event of an accident, PPE also helps protect against injuries and work-related illnesses.
There are many factors contributing to PPE noncompliance and it’s important that organisations are aware of all the reasons and excuses used by employees.
Safety programmes have become the main focus of many companies across the different industry sectors. In a bid to educate employees on the correct safety practices to follow, organisations often develop policies, which, if misinterpreted, can result in poor practices being adopted.
We have summarised the most common reasons for PPE noncompliance found on safety-smart online websites:
Myth: This job will only take me a few minutes, so there’s really no need to put on my PPE.
Truth: The reality is that it only takes a few seconds for an accident to occur. Noncompliance leads to injuries, and injuries can lead to death.
Myth: The more PPE that I wear, the better!
Truth: This couldn’t be further from the truth. According to Kimberly-Clark Professional, over-protection is just as dangerous as under-protection when it comes to PPE. The company suggests employees wear only the right PPE for the job at hand and ensure the chosen item provides protection against the particular hazard to which they are exposed.
Myth: This PPE is uncomfortable, so I don’t have to wear it.
Truth: Employers must ensure that they provide employees with the correct and well-fitting PPE. If PPE is required to be used at all times within a specific job, it is the manager’s duty to enforce compliance and, if necessary, to implement punitive measures that will lead to correct behaviour change.
Myth: As long as I am wearing PPE, I’m safe.
Truth: This is false. According to development organisation, Industrial Health Resource Group, the hierarchy of hazard controls must be followed at all times when it comes to safety and health. This chart is used to control exposure to occupational hazards.
In the hierarchy, PPE is the last priority in controlling hazards. Elimination of the hazard is the first priority, followed by the minimising factors in their order of priority: substitution, engineering controls, administrative control and, finally, PPE (as the fourth priority).
Wearing PPE therefore does not automatically equal safety; all the other controls must be adhered to first.
Myth: I have many years of experience in this job, so I don’t need PPE. It’s for the inexperienced and vulnerable.
Truth: Accidents happens anywhere, anytime and to anyone. Whether young, old, experienced, or vulnerable, PPE must be worn to prevent injuries or death.
Accidents can happen to anyone, so employers must encourage greater PPE compliance. This should be done through: continuous education, noncompliance penalties, constant monitoring and incentivising compliance.
Help protect your workers by not allowing them to become another statistic.