How Can I Ensure My Team Wears Their PPE?

How can I ensure my team wear their PPE? 116504 print e1714642469515

The Importance of PPE, And Why Your Team Should Wear It

The wearing of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is crucial when your employees are working in one of the many hazardous zones associated with services such as manufacturing, the construction industry, rail or public works.

The latest HSE figures (2022/23) show there were 561,000 self reported non-fatal injuries, and tragically 135 deaths due to work related accidents.

While it is impossible to ensure total safety when you have employees operating in high risk areas, wearing hi-vis jackets, safety helmets, ear defenders, protective goggles, safety gloves and safety boots can be the difference between a mere scratch and a life changing injury!

But what happens when a member or members of your team are not so keen on wearing the PPE you provide?

There may be all kinds of justifications used members of your frontline staff who are reluctant to use the necessary piece of equipment, be it a medical condition, comfort issues or simply a lack of understanding of the importance of PPE and the potential hazards of not wearing it.

Here we look at the ways you can work to ensure your team are happy to always wear the correct PPE when on site, and they stay safe and legal.

Cultivate a “Company Safe” Culture.

Leave your team in no doubt that their safety is very close to your heart!

Train them up in the understanding of how vital PPE is. You could work around inculcating them into the adoption of safe practices through a brief Safety Video shown at the morning team huddle for instance. Real-life stories and videos of accidents or near-misses are an highly effective way to reinforce the message and enhance appreciation the correct PPE.

Training materials should include up to date, impactful safety posters prominently displayed throughout your facility.

Enlist the teams help in the constant promotion of Safety at Work, get them enthused around Safety First and a culture of caring. Introduce a reward scheme for the best suggestions on how to disseminate the message throughout the company. Encourage less experienced members of the team to pick the brains of more seasoned colleagues and get safety tips from them.

Set up a safety committee who will monitor and update employee safety regulations, and streamline the implementation of risk procedures.

There are numerous ways to deliver the message on a daily basis without coming across all heavy handed, and this type of approach is consistently more effective, expedient, and promotes a healthy company culture, rather than relying on disciplinary procedures to enforce the wearing of PPE.

Work with your team, in a non confrontational way, to make them fully aware of the legal ramifications, as well as the physical hazards, of not wearing correct the PPE.

Proper Training On Health and Safety

Don’t just assume everyone knows what PPE is.

Every new member of the team should be thoroughly inducted and trained in how to use it correctly. Regularly review and revise your Official Safety Policy and and clearly communicate updates through  teaching and practice.

Ask for feedback through internal on-line questionnaires, posing questions that will make them feel a key member of a “Company Safe” drive!

Workers should also be instructed on how to correctly look after and store their equipment, and how to inspect it for wear and tear or malfunctions.

Your ultimate aim must be to embed the principles of your health and safety ethos in such a way that it is actively embraced company wide!

As always, good and open communication is key.

Dealing With Objections

Rather like a salesperson, it is advantageous if you can work with your team to resolve issues they might raise and work with them to provide solutions.

These complaints about wearing safety gear may be familiar. It gets in the way. It’s uncomfortable. It keeps fogging up. It digs into me. It keeps coming off.

If you involve them in decisions around the best PPE for them personally, when you are placing an order, these objections can be much more easily resolved.

Show the team the products you are looking to purchase. Get them to trail samples and ask them for feedback. Their insights in terms of comfort, suitability and fit will doubtless prove invaluable for future order placing.

They are the people who are having to wear the PPE on a daily basis, and if they have had input in the choice they are much less likely to find fault with it.

Close collaboration with your female team members will also ensure that their PPE is the correct fit, something that has previously proved a challenge in the industry although design and technology is now catching up.

Taking an empathetic stance, and paying close attention to the PPE concerns and issues raised by your team will not only demonstrate your commitment to their safety, comfort and care, but will enhance your professional relationship.

Work With Your Supply Chain

Be open about the challenges you are facing with your preferred PPE suppliers. Detail the issues that have been raised and allow them to guide and and advise you on how to overcome them.

Let your suppliers share their expertise, often born of long experience, and rely on them to ensure you are sourcing the right PPE for the tasks on hand, that comply will all the necessary legislation, and that provide comfort and flexibility for every member of your workforce.

Undertake Hazard Assessments

If a worker refuses to wear PPE, this is often because they do not fully understand what PPE is and the risks of not wearing it.

As it is unlikely that there will be the same level of requirement for PPE across an entire workplace, misunderstandings can occur when comparisons are inevitably made and questions such as  “Why should I wear my hard hat if he isn’t?” are asked.

Again, this will be most likely down to a lack of comprehension.

The answer is to undertake a comprehensive risk assessment of a specific project to determine the roles each worker will be fulfilling and what risks are associated with that role. it is powerful to review past incidents and first aid reports from similar scenarios to give a clear picture of what hazards can, and have, caused issues!

On completion of each risk assessment, full hazard identification, and the relevant revision of safety procedures, a meeting should be called, where senior staff can brief the team on the potential risks and the correct PPE requirements to minimize these.

Make PPE Mandatory

It’s sometimes difficult to get the balance right between encouraging and forcing the team to adopt safety best practices.

Supervisors and Managers should work closely with the company safety representative and be crystal clear about the need for PPE, and totally on board with its implementation.

Workers should on the one hand be pulled up firmly for non compliance, thus avoiding a lowering of the safety standard to spread, but positive reinforcement through the introduction of an incentive scheme to acknowledge loyalty and compliance with safety procedures can work wonders!

Where there is a continued obstinacy, despite training and clear communication, delicate but decidedly swift disciplinary action will demonstrate that you are absolutely serious about Zero Tolerance where safety is concerned!

Lead by example!

If their is a requirement to a wear hi vis vest on the factory floor for instance, never set foot on it without one!

Simple But Vital

The importance of wearing suitable PPE cannot be overstated, but at the end of the day, it’s not rocket science. The more you work with your team and help them to understand the risks they are facing, the safer they will be from personal injury, and the more effectively they will work, whether it be on site or on the factory floor.

There needs for a clear awareness that if the safety procedures are disregarded, safety corners are cut for the the correct PPE is not worn, there may be devastating consequences!

If clarity is provided around what PPE to wear, and when to wear it, and the dangers are clearly understood, the potential for catastrophe can be significantly reduced.

Get your team totally on side and make sure they know you care.

Clad Safety cares too!

As the company name suggests, safety is our watchword!

We have over thirty years of experience, working with large corporations throughout the UK to providing guidance for employers and ensuring their staff are thoroughly equipped with maximum protection through the consistent supply of premium quality safety clothing and accessories.

Our comprehensive PPE range has been developed in conjunction the introduction of the latest safety legislation and the evolving requirements of key organisations in the construction, rail and utilities industries.

For expert advice and recommendations on PPE and safety wear, or any questions about employee safety, contact our knowledgeable and friendly team on 0800 161 3661 or email [email protected].