Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is an important aspect of safety in manufacturing and contracting. Unfortunately, all too often employees view this protective gear as time consuming, inconvenient and overzealous. Getting employees to buy into the idea of using safety gear is tricky but vital to maintaining safety and reducing liability in the workplace. Here are some ideas for getting both workers and supervisors involved in improving safety.
Education: Knowledge-Based Control
An educated employee is a safe employee. If you take the time to properly train your staff on the importance and use of PPE, they will put that knowledge to use. With the right training, workers will be able to note situations that put them and their co-workers at risk.
Knowledge is power. This adage is a truism in the workplace. Your staff will feel empowered when they have a proper understanding of safety procedures. This sense of empowerment will lead to workers engaging greater control over their surrounding environment. Incidents will decrease as a result.
As you implement PPE procedures, your staff will doubtless have ideas, suggestions and concerns. Never dismiss these offerings. Make sure that your workers feel safe coming to you to discuss issues that arise without the fear of reprisal. Give every concern its proper due. You may discover that your staff members have great ideas for better ways to put protective gear in play.
When your staff feels that their opinions are valued, they will begin to take ownership of the new process, policies and procedures.
Ask Your Workers
When you initiate your training, focus on the safety principles behind using PPE, and ask your workers how they feel policies should be implemented. Put the ball in their court. This will build your employees’ commitment, accountability and responsibility for the use of the equipment.
As your staff members become more involved, they will be energetic about keeping things on track. In this manner you will build commitment rather than encouraging compliance.
Build a Team
Go out on the floor and identify those supervisors and workers who seem to be the best team players and the most committed to safety and security. Build an advisory team from your workers that can be directly involved in inspections, problem solving and training. When the new solutions come from the workers, the team is more likely to buy in.
Provide Incentives for PPE
Offer incentives to those employees who have done the most to improve conditions and encourage the use of safety gear. At each staff meeting, or once a month, hold a secret ballot to nominate one employee who has best exemplified team spirit and safety procedures. Give a real, tangible incentive to this staff member — a gift certificate to a local restaurant, for example. When workers feel they are getting something out of compliance, they are more eager to work towards that goal.
Do you have any ideas about building worker buy-in for the use of PPE? Leave us a comment and let us hear your thoughts.