Three reasons employees disregard PPE safety policies and what you can do about it

Three reasons employees disregard PPE safety policies and what you can do about it

When you need to kit out your workforce in Arc Flash safety garments that could potentially save their lives, whether it looks good probably isn’t high on your list of priorities. But it should be.

The cynics of the world might think we only put so much effort into making our garments look great to make the catalogue photography look attractive.

But there are three more serious reasons behind us investing in good design choices during the research and development stages, as well as making sure they’re rigorously tested for safety.

  1. Inexperience
  2. Arrogance
  3. Complacence

Inexperienced employees don’t always understand the importance of Arc Flash PPE

Usually (though not always), it tends to be younger members of your workforce who’ll fall into the ‘Inexperience’ category. They will be team members who’ve never had, or witnessed, a serious incident in the workplace.

These employees don’t deliberately ignore safety messaging, but they tend not to be as aware of the importance of safety wear instructions as you might think.

Your SHE/QES team and communications manager probably work tirelessly to cascade information about the importance of health and safety, yet it can be surprising how little of this is taken on board unless it’s part of a culture that’s fully embraced by everybody in the company.

When this combines with people not wanting to wear supplied safety garments because they’re uncomfortable to wear, or because they think they look stupid, their inexperience leads them to take bad choices.

Highly experienced employees can think an Arc Flash would never happen to them

At the other end of the spectrum, much more experienced employees are much more likely to be aware of Arc Flash risks and consequences than their inexperienced teammates. 

However, they can fall into the trap of believing it would never happen to them because they ‘know what they’re doing’.

When they have safety garments which they feel make the job harder because they’re bulky and inflexible for example, or have badly fitting sleeves, their arrogance can misguide them into taking the PPE off to make the task at hand easier.

Excellent company safety records can lead to employee complacency

Organisations with the best safety records can be at the greatest risk of complacency setting in. It develops from a mistaken belief that incidents are exceptionally rare generally, rather than because they’ve been mitigated through good practice.

Complacency manifests itself in a similar way to arrogance, though it tends to be a cultural attitude which affects whole teams, or whole organisations, rather than individuals.

This is particularly challenging for policy setters to overcome because teammates are no longer challenging each other’s behaviour.

How to improve Arc Flash safety

When working in a live environment is unavoidable and all other steps have been taken to reduce the risk of an Arc Flash incident occurring, your employees’ last line of defence is their PPE.

Making sure clothing items are fit for purpose (the safest they can be), comfortable to work in (practical, flexible and well-fitting) and that they look good too, substantially reduces the risk of employees removing them.

It’s just another step in the process towards improving Arc Flash safety and survival rates.

For more information on how you can protect your workforce and receive a free ProGARM Arc Flash PPE consultation, please contact us on +44 (0) 1482 679 600 and speak to one of our experienced specialists.

Leave the guesswork out of choosing the right PPE.

Read our free guide on the top considerations when choosing Arc Flash clothing & PPE below and make the best choice for you and your team via the link below ⬇.