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Eight ways to make sure your staff wear their PPE

by , 10 June 2015
Why is personal protective equipment (PPE) so important?

Because it protects workers from injury! In the real world though, safety professionals are still struggling to get this message across - and make it stick.

Unfortunately, expressions like 'Wear your PPE because it says so in the safety rule book' just don't hold up as convincing arguments.

So what does work? Let's look at eight ways you can get your employees to wear their PPE...

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Eight ways you can get your employees to wear their PPE

1. Set an example
You must SHOW your employees and co-workers that you're not above the rules and regulations. Use PPE in your workplace wherever it is required.

2. Allow no exceptions
There must be zero exceptions. If it's a requirement you use PPE in a certain work area, then stick to the policy or procedure.

Show your workers where to get the right PPE and take the time to explain to them how to use it properly. Explain to them that their contribution and hard work is valued. And that remaining injury free is an important part of reaching and maintaining your company's goals.

3. Don't look the other way
The absolute worst thing you can do is let someone get away with not wearing their PPE when it's a requirement. If you ever see someone not wearing their PPE, don't ignore it!

4. Spend the money
There are few quicker returns on investment than PPE. In fact, it can be virtually immediate.

Sure, you may be saving a few bucks with that box of Brand X safety glasses sitting on a bench at the entrance to the shop floor. These types of safety glasses are fine for the casual visitor, but never expect your regular workers to wear them 100% of the time.

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Four more ways you can get your employees to wear their PPE

5. Do regular training
Training isn't the last word on a safety topic. It's usually only the beginning! Training sessions are one of the most effective platforms to show workers how important PPE is. It's also a good place to show employees the proper fit and care of PPE.

You should then monitor the outcome effects of your training under actual working conditions.

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6. Give me a good reason
In use for many years now, but still worth mentioning, is the 'Why I Work Safe' bulletin board. This is simply a place for workers to pin up pictures of their loved ones to SHOW as a reminder every time they walk by to work and go home safe. It serves as a visual reminder and reinforces the message.
7. Show your employees how to look after their PPE
Employers must provide PPE where necessary. But the OSH Act also states that employees also have a part in being responsible for safety on the job as well.

To help make this happen, make sure you show each worker how to properly maintain and store their PPE, as well as how to inspect PPE for wear, tear, and malfunctions, and the process to replace it. Let them know that PPE won't work if it's broken or not cared for properly.

8. Discipline
Discipline is necessary under certain conditions. If you need to discipline, it's important to discipline consistently. You'll decrease morale and lose credibility with your workers if you're inconsistent with disciplinary action. Show your employees you mean business by disciplining them according to your health and safety policy.

Until now, you might have thought that telling your workers to wear PPE was the best or only way. While the art of verbal persuasion can be a valuable tool, showing them by setting an example can go a long way in achieving success!

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