U.S. Workers Risking Injury By Not Wearing Required Safety Equipment

Survey of Safety Professionals Finds Shockingly High Incidence of Noncompliance.


*Increased monitoring of employees

*Purchasing more comfortable PPE

*Tying compliance to individual performance evaluations

*Purchasing more stylish PPE

*Developing incentive programs to encourage greater PPE compliance

The issue of PPE comfort came to the fore again when safety professionals were asked what suppliers could do to improve their offerings. The number one selection was to “provide more comfortable PPE,” followed by:

*Providing more instruction on the proper use of PPE

*Reducing prices

*Providing greater size selection

*Offering more stylish PPE

PPE of the Future

When safety professionals were asked about their visions for the future of PPE, fit, comfort and style took precedence. Forty-two percent of respondents said they would like to see PPE that automatically adjusts to fit different body types, hands, heads, faces, etc. Next was PPE with customizable style and design options, so that workers could select PPE based on their own individual tastes and safety requirements (32 percent). This was followed by PPE designed with integrated climate-control features, providing cooling or warmth as needed (15 percent).

The impact of customization and style on PPE compliance was further underscored by the response to another question. When asked if customizable or individualized style and design options would help increase PPE compliance, 87 percent of respondents said that it would.

‘Toxic Towels’

Safety professionals were also asked about another area of concern – the potential health and safety issues for workers posed by oil, grease, heavy metal residues or toxic elements on re-usable Rental Shop Towels. Sixty percent said they were disturbed by these hazards, with 20 percent of these respondents reporting they were “very concerned.”

Worries about the risks to workers from “toxic towels” were the chief reason why safety professionals said they would switch to disposable wiping solutions from re-usable rental shop towels. What was the second most important reason for a potential change? A closed-loop solution that converts used disposable wipers to energy and diverts them from landfills. Not surprising, given the increased emphasis on environmental responsibility in manufacturing.

“Manufacturing facilities today are focused now more than ever before on conserving natural resources and reducing waste,” said Tsiropoulos. “So a closed-loop solution for used wipers is a very appealing option.”

Survey Methodology

The survey of 132 attendees at the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) show in Baltimore, Md., was conducted via the Internet between June 9 and 13, 2010. 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. Ninety percent were safety directors or managers, while the other 10 percent were industrial hygienists, facilities or general managers, or held other positions. They were employed in the following fields: chemical/plastics manufacturing; construction/utilities; computer, electronics and electrical product manufacturing; food processing; metal manufacturing; transpiration equipment manufacturing or other fields.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

2. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

3. U.S. Department of Labor

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