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Survey Reveals PPE Compliance Concerns

A survey of nearly 200 safety professionals at the 2007 National Safety Council (NSC) Congress indicates 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, reveals 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.

Green Protection

The survey also 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.”

According to survey results, safety professionals who desire environmentally friendly PPE are most interested in purchasing products made with recycled materials, followed by the ability to reuse or recycle products after use. Other environmental considerations include:

  • Source-reduced products;
  • The PPE manufacturer’s overall commitment to the environment;
  • Purchasing PPE from one supplier to reduce transportation energy costs;
  • Products shipped in minimal or biodegradable packaging; and
  • PPE manufactured in a “carbon neutral” facility.
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