Common Excuses

Why Workers Don’t Use PPE

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: December 4th, 2012
Topics: PPE |

In a recent survey, 82% of safety professionals said they observed their workers failing to use required personal protective equipment (PPE) at least once in the past year.

Why Workers Don’t Use PPE

Of course, ensuring proper use of PPE by workers isn’t just an OSHA obligation; it’s a vital safety measure. So why don’t workers use the stuff?

Employer’s Fault for Lack of PPE Use

At over 85%, the most common worker reason survey respondents cited was lack of awareness about PPE and why it’s important to use. This is clearly a problem that providing appropriate safety training would solve.

Another common reason for not using PPE: the workers said that PPE wasn’t available at their workplace or that it didn’t fit right. Each of these reasons could and should have been addressed by the employer.

So if any of your workers are citing reasons like this, shame on you.

Worker’s Fault for Lack of PPE Use

The other common reasons cited are not so much reasons as excuses by workers who understood the importance of using PPE but chose not to due to some complaint about the PPE. Leading complaints: Workers said that PPE:

  • Was uncomfortable;
  • Made them too hot;
  • Hampered their productivity or made their job tasks harder; or
  • Made them look unattractive.

Don’t Write Off the PPE Complaints

We all understand that lack of comfort and such aren’t valid excuses for not using PPE. So it would be easy to label the excuses as “shame-on-the worker”.

But it’s not as simple as that. At the end of the day, who’s to blame for a workers’ failure to use PPE is less important than understanding why they’re not using it and making sure they do.

So if your workers are using excuses like “it’s too hot,” you need to know what they’re complaining about and address the problem—either by making the PPE “less hot” or getting the worker to use it the way it is. Anything less might result in an OSHA violation and a fatal or serious injury.

For More Help…

Go to the SafetySmart Compliance PPE Compliance Center to ensure compliance with OSHA PPE requirements: