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September 29, 2010

Safety Survey: Required PPE Often Ignored

How often do your workers ignore personal protective equipment rules? You might be surprised. In a survey released this month, 98 percent of safety professionals said they had observed workers in their organizations not wearing safety equipment when they should have. To make matters worse, 30 percent of these respondents said this had happened on numerous occasions.

Not surprisingly, worker compliance with personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols was cited as the top workplace safety issue by all survey respondents. The survey was conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional at the recent American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) show in Baltimore.

The survey results confirm a disturbing trend toward non-use of PPE equipment. In previous surveys conducted at the National Safety Council Congress, results indicated observed PPE non-use rising from 85 percent in 2006 to 89 percent in 2008.

"Increasingly high noncompliance with PPE protocols is an alarming trend and a serious threat to worker health and safety," said Kimberly-Clark spokesperson Gina Tsiropoulos. She noted it’s not clear if declining PPE use is a result of economic conditions, a flawed approach to safety programs, younger workers who are more inclined to take greater risks or some other cause.

Perhaps it's no wonder that three-quarters of respondents cited workplace accidents and injuries as the issue “most likely to keep you up at night." Potential exposure due to noncompliance with PPE protocols was second, at 13 percent, while fear of a global pandemic and its impact on the workforce was a distant third, cited by only 8 percent of respondents.

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