Survey Reveals PPE Compliance Concerns

A survey of nearly 200 safety professionals indicated that noncompliance with personal protective equipment (PPE) continues to be an ongoing problem in the workplace.

The Oct. 16, 2007 survey, conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional during the 2007 National Safety Council (NSC) Congress, revealed that 87 percent of respondents observed workers failing to wear required PPE. This is the second year the survey has yielded such results; in 2006, 85 percent of safety professionals noticed the same workplace infraction.

“Despite the undisputed need for PPE when undertaking hazardous tasks, people continue to risk bodily harm by failing to protect themselves,” said Randy Kates, general manager of Kimberly-Clark Professional Safety Business.

According to 62 percent of surveyed safety professionals, the main reason workers weren't compliant with PPE was because it was too “uncomfortable.” In fact, three-quarters of respondents said PPE could be improved by making it “more comfortable.”

But comfort wasn't the only important factor. Respondents also said PPE might not have been worn because workers thought it wasn't necessary for the task or that the PPE was too hot or unattractive. And apparently, appearances do count: Eight-four percent of safety professionals said they might purchase fashionable and attractive PPE if the appearance encouraged workers to wear it, and if the cost was similar to other products.

The survey also addressed off-the-job safety, and found 44 percent of respondents encouraged employees to take home company-provided PPE.

The survey determined that environmental factors have an impact on PPE buying decisions. Ninety-four percent of surveyed professionals said environmental considerations and reducing the impact on the environment were important, with 64 percent ranking these issues as “very important” and 20 percent listing them as “somewhat important.”

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