Survey: PPE Compliance Tops Workplace Concerns

For the second year in a row, a survey of safety professionals has found that noncompliance with personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols continues to be an issue in the workplace.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they had observed workers failing to wear PPE when they should have been, according to a survey of attendees at the 2007 National Safety Council (NSC) Congress, conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional. Eighty-five percent of safety professionals answered yes to the same question in a survey undertaken by Kimberly-Clark Professional at the 2006 NSC Congress.

"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 the safety business for Kimberly-Clark Professional. "In this survey, we not only asked why people did not comply with PPE protocols, but also what could be done to alter these behaviors."

The main "why" was "uncomfortable" PPE, according to 62 percent of respondents who had observed noncompliance in the workplace. This was followed by: workers thinking PPE was not necessary for the task, PPE was "too hot," PPE fits poorly, or was "unattractive looking."

When asked "what" could be improved about the PPE they were currently purchasing, three quarters of survey respondents said they would make it "more comfortable." Safety professionals also gave the nod to more fashionable PPE. Eighty-four percent said that they would be more apt to purchase fashionable and attractive PPE if workers would be more likely to wear it and the price was comparable to what they were currently paying for similar products.

The survey also explored the effect of environmental considerations on purchasing PPE and other personal safety products. Ninety-four percent of respondents said environmental considerations and reducing the impact on the environment were important to them. Sixty-four percent ranked these as "very important," while 20 percent described them as "somewhat important." Ten percent said environmental factors were "increasingly important now," as compared to a few years ago.

When it comes to green purchases, the top consideration was buying products made with recycled materials. Next was the ability to reuse or recycle products after use. Source-reduced products and packaging and a manufacturer's overall commitment to the environment were nearly tied for third place. These were followed by:

  • Purchasing from one supplier to reduce energy costs resulting from the transport of supplies from different sources.
  • Products that are shipped in biodegradable packages with as little packaging material as possible.
  • Products manufactured in a "carbon neutral" facility.

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