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Overcoming the PPE compliance challenge - Five essential ways

Updated: Mar 18

There is something unique about the human psyche. We acknowledge that hazards and dangers exist but we believe they somehow won’t impact ‘me’. The odds are so small after all! As a result, we often don’t take those odds seriously enough to protect ourselves.

And then there are the challenges of memory, habit, PPE availability, PPE quality and fit for purpose, lack of enforcement and lack of awareness that make PPE compliance in factories, construction sites and many other workplaces a perennial challenge. The team at Quber Tech that built SafetyQube has worked for decades in the manufacturing shop floor and warehouses and has five key takeaways to help you drive PPE compliance and keep your people safe.

Explain the why

Often no one explains to frontline workers why they need to wear a certain PPE (hard hat, safety shoes, safety goggles, masks, ear plugs/muffs, etc). It is just positioned as a rule that everyone must follow. A regular assessment of various hazards using tools like SafetyQube is needed and conversations should be held regularly with frontline workers to ensure they understand the hazards, the potential impact of those hazards to them and how PPE can help them manage/minimise those impacts.

Leverage social proof

People in general are open to adopting and following things once others have done it. This is what Robert Cialdini calls ‘Social Proof’ in his seminal book ‘Influence’. Wisdom of the crowd and the wisdom of friends matter. Find formal and informal influencers in each department / team / site and empower them to champion PPE usage among their teams. Use peer to peer reviews and peer to peer audits. PPE compliance tends to be a lot higher this way versus when managers and EHS departments try to enforce it using a rulebook and the stick.

Make it exciting

Positive reinforcement is key to achieving wider and consistent PPE adoption and compliance. Everyone enjoys a bit of competition and everyone likes to get recognition. Simple mechanisms like a point system where scores are assigned for daily and consistent safe behaviours (incl. PPE compliance) and top scorers (both individuals and teams) are recognised can work wonders.

Involve the frontline in PPE selection

Sometimes people don’t wear PPE because they view it to be a hindrance to or discomfort at work. The fit may not be good or there might be numerous similar reasons. Involve a diverse group of frontline workers in selecting, trialling, and adopting PPE. This might well increase the chances of adoption. Empower them to work directly with the PPE suppliers to provide constructive feedbacks and improve the PPE in question.

Use technology

Software and wearable technologies to identify a worker’s location and alert them to use the correct PPE is becoming increasingly popular. It is critical to ensure the right PPE is accessible near those locations. Visual inspection technologies that utilise cameras and AI enabled recognition technologies can detect the need for or absence of PPE and alert responsible parties accordingly. Connected PPE using IoT technologies can also be useful to detect compliance.

Companies need to continue with time tested PPE training, awareness, audits, and enforcement methods. Yet the success rate can jump when they take advantage of the above methods.

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