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Five common excuses employees give for not wearing their PPE and how to deal with each one

by , 02 February 2015
The OHS Act says all employees must have and wear personal protective equipment (PPE). But many employers still can't get their employees to follow this rule.

When they confront their employees about it, they get a variety of excuses. But there are five particular ones that seem to crop up a lot.

Today, I'm going to show you how to deal with these five excuses so you can make sure your employees always wear their PPE ...


Deal with these five common excuses for employees not wearing PPE so they can work safely

Excuse 1: 'It doesn't fit me'
According to safetynewsalert.com, 30% of employees use this as their excuse for not wearing protective clothing.
This is a big problem because PPE that doesn't fit can cause accidents instead of prevent them.
To deal with this, get employees to help you choose PPE. Ask them what the problems are with comfort and fit. For example, are the overalls too tight? Are the hard hats too big?
Work with a few of your employees to order trial pieces of safety gear. Then ask these employees to wear and test them. If you can't agree on what to get, find out if people with certain builds prefer certain types of safety wear. You may have to order more than one type to satisfy your employees. 
This sounds like a hassle but at least they'll wear their PPE.
*********** Reader's choice  ***************
Do you have more than 20 employees?
Don't ignore this health and safety obligation or else!
The DoL will slap you with a R50 000 fine or 1 year in jail if you don't have a health and safety representative. 
Excuse 2: 'I didn't know I had to wear safety gear'
Some employees try to shift blame by saying their supervisor didn't train them on using protective equipment. 
10% of employees use this excuse. 
The truth is, most of them have had proper training and do know; you just need to prove it.
To do that, make employees sign a register to prove they attended and understood their safety induction training.
This way you can prove your employees received training, and know about their PPE. You can follow the necessary disciplinary procedures.
Excuse 3: 'I didn't have time'
18% of employees say they can't get all their PPE on before their shift starts.
The first step to deal with this is to ask your employees why it takes them so long. It could be because of a problem with safety and production. If this is the case, ask your production managers to remind employee how important safety is. Tell them they can't start their shift until all their PPE is on.
Also find out if these employees know how to put their PPE on. 
Another possibility is employees rush to get to their stations on time because they're always late. 
If this is the case, you need to deal with it through your disciplinary procedures. Use your employee's time card to check what time he gets to work.
*********** Hot off the press  ************
Do you want to be fined, jailed or have a criminal record for life?
If an accident occurs in your workplace, and the person dies, you could be charged with culpable homicide, charged penalties of R100 000 or 2 years in jail! The CEO or Owner of a company is personally accountable for health and safety at work. 
Excuse 4: 'I won't have an accident' 
8% of employees think they're the exception to the rule and they'll never have an accident.
Young employees and older, more experienced ones are the people who seem to use this the most. 
To deal with this attitude, tell them about accidents that have happened and show them the consequence. Invite someone who had a serious workplace accident that left him with a permanent injury to speak to your employees. Ask him to explain how his injury happened and how it affected his life.
Excuse 5: 'I forgot'
34% of employees seem to have trouble with their memory when it comes to PPE.
So be clear about the rules and enforce your health and safety policy. It's okay for employees to forget once or twice, but repeatedly it's a problem. 
Discipline them if they just keep 'forgetting'.
Also consider putting up big bright signs at the exit of their locker room asking 'Did you put on your PPE?' If employees still forget with that reminder, then they're probably choosing to.
If you can prove your employees aren't wearing their PPE on purpose, discipline them so they follow the rules.
You can find out more about PPE rules in the Health and Safety Advisor.

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