ROSWELL, GA - In a survey released by Kimberly-Clark Professional, 89 percent of safety professionals said they had observed workers not wearing safety equipment when they should have been. Twenty-nine percent said this had happened on numerous occasions.
"This high rate of noncompliance with PPE protocols presents a serious threat to worker health and safety," said Gina Tsiropoulos, manufacturing segment marketing manager for Kimberly-Clark Professional. "While the reasons for noncompliance are varied, the threat to workers is clear-cut. Without the proper use of PPE, they are at risk of serious injury or even death."
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of personal protective equipment to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective. Yet, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that of the workers who sustained a variety of on-the-job injuries, the vast majority were not wearing PPE.
It is therefore no surprise that 78 percent of respondents said workplace accidents and injuries were the concerns most likely to keep them up at night.
Worker compliance with safety protocols was also cited as the top workplace safety issue. Twenty-eight percent of respondents chose this, while 21 percent selected "fewer workers." "Insufficient management support for health and safety functions" and "meeting the safety needs of an aging workforce" tied at 18 percent. Lack of funds to implement safety programs was last at 8 percent.
Given the importance of PPE in ensuring worker safety, the survey examined the reasons for such high levels of noncompliance. Of those respondents who observed PPE noncompliance in the workplace, 69 percent said the primary cause was workers thinking that PPE wasn't needed. This was followed by:
- Too hot
- Poor fit
- Not available near work task
- Unattractive looking
The survey of 119 people was conducted over the Internet from June 10, 2011 through July 11, 2011. All survey respondents said they were responsible for purchasing, selecting or influencing the purchase or selection of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or industrial wiping solutions. Sixty-three percent were safety directors or managers, while the other 37 percent were industrial hygienists, facilities or general managers, environmental managers or held other positions. They were employed in the following fields: construction/utilities; chemical/plastics manufacturing; metal manufacturing; food processing; computer, electronics and electrical product manufacturing; transportation equipment manufacturing or other fields.