Many employees are not trained properly in the use, care and maintenance of personal protective equipment (PPE).  Companies are required to furnish the type of PPE that is based on the potential hazards of each particular job.  Many workers are required to wear several types of PPE at the same time, such as construction workers, who must wear protective footwear, gloves, safety glasses, and hardhats.   Research has found that some workers have a rather cavalier attitude toward protective clothing, but that little was being done in terms of training or education to correct this situation.  During this research, some health and safety managers interviewed admitted to a lack of knowledge about different PPE product specifications and which clothing is the most suitable for their workplace. 

Anyone who must wear PPE will tell you that the choices made for their particular needs should fit well and be comfortable.  Some say that the PPE hinders their ability to do their job.  They explain that they would prefer to have clothing that is stylish and functional.  If the safety advisors include the workers in the choices they make, whether it is to protect from fire to freezing cold temperatures, working in areas with poor visibility, or handling of hazardous materials, chances are the results will be a more respectful attitude toward compliance. 

Safety officials of companies may confer with various suppliers and manufacturers to work out which types of clothing and particular products will be most suitable.  Products must meet the standards that are set by OSHA, ANSI, or other countries’ minimum health and safety requirements.  For workers who must wear more than one type of protective clothing, the different types of work wear must be compatible.  Many factors must be considered, such as, will the clothing get tangled up in equipment, (i.e., gloves that are too large), or does it increase slips and falls (wrong foot protection)?  

Safety glasses that are offered now are stylish; some of them look better and cost less than those purchased at an optical shop.  (And safer, too!)  All types are offered – from goggles to those with UV protection, wrap-around, over-the-glasses, to readers.  If companies don’t require a company logo on their hardhats, team hard hats or patriotic ones improve worker morale and compliance, by allowing them to show their support for their favorite team, be it NHL, NCAA, NFL, NBA, NASCAR, or MLB.  There are work gloves especially designed for women’s smaller hands, and they even come in “cool pink!”  Many jobs require PPE that is not as flashy as other types, but the main thing is that they fit the bill for the task at hand. 

Training employees on the correct use of their PPE, how to wear it, and care for it, and know when to replace it, is one of the most important ways a company can protect their employees.  It may not take a rocket scientist to figure some of it out, but when there’s doubt about PPE, there should be someone who can explain why they are required to wear it and how important it is to be worn during the entire work period.