Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is becoming the new normal. As a business owner, you need a strong PPE policy to ensure that your workers are being compliant and using the equipment properly. Failure to implement a PPE program that your workers adhere to puts everyone at the company at a health risk which leads to a myriad of problems. To keep workers compliant you need to address any barriers to wearing PPE and have a plan in place before this could become an issue.
The number one reason workers don’t use PPE is because it can be uncomfortable. Depending on the work environment it can be hot and cause discomfort for the wearer. Similarly, if the PPE doesn’t fit properly it can cause irritation to the skin.
To combat these issues, it’s important that workplaces have options best suited for the environment the PPE will be utilized in. For many places, this may mean having multiple forms or sizes of PPE available. Instead of offering a one size fits all which may be comfortable for those working in an air-conditioned office but incompatible with warehouse work, it’s important that you consider the working conditions of your employees. You need to be aware of which form of PPE provides the appropriate protection and does so while allowing the employee to be as comfortable as possible.
Along with comfort, convenience is a major factor in getting people to wear PPE consistently. If workers are given a new mask each day, ensuring they are easily accessible and placed where they will see them when starting their day will help in gaining consistent usage.
Clearly mark and label where PPE can be found and where it is to be disposed of when employees are finished using it. Give guidance on how to store PPE during breaks so that the equipment is still effective and not contaminated when they put it back on. Also, provide instruction on how to clean and store PPE so that it remains as effective as possible. Make things very easy for your workers to access, meaning that this process should be organized so well for your employees that it’s practically foolproof.
Another way to manage PPE policy is to ensure that all of your workers are knowledgeable in how the PPE works and what purpose it serves. When people know the why behind something and how it benefits themselves and others, they are much more likely to use it correctly. Proper PPE wear isn’t something you go over once and check off your list. Incorporate PPE use training into your regular routine to keep its importance at the forefront of your worker’s minds. It doesn’t have to be a time-consuming ordeal, 5 minutes every week going over the basics and offering tips ensures your workers know what’s expected of them and also gives them a chance to ask any questions they may have.
Regular demonstration of how PPE works will also help engrain proper use into the culture of your workplace. Workplace culture plays a very important role when it comes to being compliant with PPE. Having positive talks about PPE and recognizing workers who demonstrate proper PPE use are ways you can help keep your employees be consistent with its use.
Creating a culture where safety and PPE use is seen as a priority takes leadership and consistency to develop, it doesn’t just happen. Make a plan to talk about it regularly and stick to it.
A PPE policy is something that is developed through consistency and clarity. There shouldn’t be any fuzzy areas when it comes to what is expected of workers and they should know who to talk to should they have any questions regarding use. Easy accessibility and having options for different PPE for various jobs/tasks will encourage workers to use PPE much more regularly. It’s very important to take your employees’ comfort into consideration, especially if the working conditions are demanding to begin with. If you are consistent with your approach to PPE you will create a work culture that supports safety and proper PPE use.
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