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TheStreet Open House

Alarming Number Of Workers Fail To Wear Required Protective Equipment

Stocks in this article: KMB

ROSWELL, Ga., Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The need for safety equipment when performing hazardous tasks is undisputed. Yet U.S. workers continue to take risks by failing to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when it is needed.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120320/DA66105LOGO-b)

In a Kimberly-Clark Professional survey released today, 82 percent of safety professionals said they had observed workers in their organizations failing to wear required PPE during the past year. Respondents also cited compliance as the top workplace safety issue in their facilities—further underscoring the significance of these findings.     

"High levels of noncompliance have been an issue since we began conducting these surveys in 2007," said David Matela, Director, Safety Product Management, Kimberly-Clark Professional. "Even though it is mandated by OSHA, the vast majority of workers who have experienced on-the-job injuries were not wearing PPE. Increased compliance is crucial to creating Exceptional Workplaces that are healthy, safe and productive."    

Given the importance of safety equipment in protecting employees, why does workplace compliance continue to be an issue? More than half of the safety professionals surveyed attributed noncompliance to workers thinking that safety equipment was not needed.

"With increased regulations and heightened awareness, it's disturbing and hard to believe that workers are unaware of the need to protect themselves," Matela said.  

The other reasons for noncompliance cited by respondents were:

  • Uncomfortable
  • Too hot
  • Blamed for decreased productivity or an inability to perform tasks
  • Unavailable near the work task
  • Ill-fitting
  • Unattractive looking                                     

Changing Behaviors   

What can be done to improve compliance with PPE protocols? Sixty-one percent of respondents said they planned to improve existing education and training programs in the next six to 12 months, an effort that appears to be making a difference for respondents—both in terms of reducing injuries and boosting productivity.                    

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