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Wearing the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job serves two purposes. It protects workers, and it helps employers comply with relevant safety standards and OSHA requirements. But, encouraging workers to wear PPE—and to wear it properly—isn’t an easy task. Follow the three Cs to boost proper PPE usage on the job.
The first “C” is obvious—PPE must be comfortable. When equipment is uncomfortable, workers are less likely to wear it. Or worse, they may make modifications that create risks rather than prevent them.
Two important factors that can affect the comfort level of PPE are fit and material. When PPE is too loose, too tight or made from scratchy or stiff material, it can hinder a worker’s movement and productivity.
The best way to determine whether PPE will be comfortable is to conduct a wear test at your facility. Try out PPE from several manufacturers and collect feedback from workers on which manufacturers’ equipment they prefer. If a wear test isn’t possible, work with a manufacturer who allows you to customize their equipment. Offer various sizes for workers to choose from, including sizes specifically for women. And when choosing materials, look for PPE that is wicking, breathable and lightweight to regulate air temperature in both hot and cold environments.
When PPE is both easy to access and wear, workers are more likely to comply with your organization’s PPE requirements. If your facility emphasizes efficiency, workers may skip time-consuming PPE procedures to meet their daily quotas and goals.
Store PPE in a convenient place where workers can access it as part of their daily routine. Don’t keep safety glasses in one room and gloves in another room several yards away. Also, specify exactly what PPE is required for certain jobs. By providing a detailed list of necessary PPE by job, you encourage workers to wear only the appropriate PPE items, which cuts down on time spent preparing for the work.
Sometimes, workers don’t wear proper PPE because they simply forget what is required for the job at hand. Fewer PPE items are easier for workers to remember, especially when extensive PPE is necessary to keep them safe.
Start by identifying all hazards present on the job site or at the facility where the PPE will be used. Then, consider PPE that addresses multiple hazards at once, like industrial safety gloves that are also fire retardant. Technology advancements have given rise to multipurpose PPE, so consider upgrading outdated equipment to keep workers as safe as possible.