Health and safety professionals are all too aware that protective clothing can mean the difference between a safe working environment and serious injury or, worse, a fatality. However, many still face the issue that some workers refuse to wear it.
Anyone wondering why their staff choose to take risks with their safety by not wearing the protective clothing provided, may find the answer lies on the catwalk. Like it or not, fashion now plays a big part in influencing wearer compliance in protective clothing.
Statistics reveal compliance rates
Year-on-year statistics reveal a shockingly high number of workplace fatalities and major injuries in construction, manufacturing and agriculture. In 2015/2016 there were 144 deaths at work, 621,000 non-fatal injuries and 30.4 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury.
Perhaps more shocking is the Health & Safety Executive’s revelation that around 9,000 accidents related to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are reported each year, at a cost to employers of approximately £252m. A whopping £65m of that cost can be attributed to workers not using PPE that is provided for their own safety.
Factors affecting compliance
In a large number of cases, PPE-related accidents occur when the protective clothing that is provided is simply not worn out of choice. The unwillingness of workers to wear PPE or protective garments can be down to several reasons:
- Religious beliefs
- Impaired ability to perform tasks
- Unfashionable or unattractive clothing
- Lack of choice
- Poor fitting or badly made garments
- Clothing that has been designed to be gender specific and therefore only suitable for men or women
Poor management and communication, and a lack of awareness or understanding of the importance of protective clothing can also be blamed.
PPE that workers want to wear
Health and safety professionals have every chance of increasing wearer compliance when the aesthetic appeal, comfort and fit of protective clothing are taken into account. To help achieve high wearer compliance, reputable and innovative PPE and protective clothing suppliers are working hard to offer fashionable and comfortable workwear.
Suppliers have responded to the increasing numbers of women working in roles where protective clothing is required by providing trousers, polo shirts, fleece jackets and v-neck t-shirts designed and tailored specifically to fit them. Summer ranges include t-shirts, polo shirts, shorts and caps, designed to make wearers more comfortable in the warmer weather, while safety glasses now come in modern, wrap-around designs.