Behavior- Based Safety
Promoting Workplace Safety: The Role of Personal Protective Equipment and Behavior-Based Safety

November 3, 2023 | Get the Kit!

Workplace safety is a critical concern for both employees and businesses. Accidents and injuries carry human and financial costs, making it essential for employees to adopt safe practices and mitigate unsafe behaviors.

Is there a way to encourage safety practices in the workplace?

This article explores the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) and behavior-based safety in enhancing workplace safety. 

Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as “PPE,” serves as a crucial line of defense against workplace hazards that can lead to serious injuries and illnesses. These hazards encompass chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, and mechanical factors, among others. PPE includes various items such as gloves, safety glasses, ear protection, hard hats, respirators, coveralls, vests, and full-body suits. 

Ensuring the proper use of PPE is essential. 82% of safety professionals said they observed their workers failing to use required personal protective equipment (PPE) at least once in the span of a year. The reasoning for this varies but at over 85%, the most common worker reason survey respondents cited was lack of awareness about PPE and why it’s important to use. This is clearly a problem that providing appropriate safety training would solve. Another common reason for not using PPE: the workers said that PPE wasn’t available at their workplace or that it didn’t fit right.  

Is there a solution to this ongoing issue? 

Proper training should be given to workers, covering when to use PPE, the appropriate type, correct usage, adjustment, maintenance, limitations, and disposal. In cases where other safety measures, such as engineering controls or administrative controls, are not practical or provide inadequate protection, employers are required to provide PPE to their workers. PPE should be designed, constructed, and maintained in a clean and reliable manner. It must also fit comfortably to encourage worker compliance. 

PPE is not a perfect solution, and it is considered the last line of defense in the hierarchy of risk control measures. It only protects the wearer and is necessary when other control methods cannot eliminate or reduce the hazard sufficiently. Employers must fulfill their obligation to provide and maintain appropriate PPE for their employees, taking into account factors like the type and duration of exposure. 

Are there other trainings available to help encourage safety in the workplace?  

Behavior-based safety emphasizes the significance of addressing unsafe behaviors in the workplace. These behaviors are often subtle and can jeopardize employee well-being. Common unsafe behaviors include shortcuts that sacrifice safety for convenience, such as improper disposal of hazardous materials, neglecting safety checks, or failing to use proper safety equipment. These behaviors can lead to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. 

Changing unsafe behaviors is crucial and behavior-based safety programs offer an effective approach to achieving this. Behavior Based Safety  aims to create awareness among employees about the factors influencing their behavior and encourage them to make safer choices. 

PPE plays a pivotal role in promoting workplace safety by providing a physical barrier against various hazards. However, PPE’s effectiveness greatly depends on whether employees choose to wear and use it properly. Behavior-based safety concepts are instrumental in encouraging employees to make the right decisions regarding PPE and other safety measures. 

Behavior-based safety helps employees recognize the importance of PPE and understand why they should use it. It helps provide insights into the reasons behind unsafe behaviors and encourage employees to change them before accidents or injuries occur. The focus is on creating a safety-conscious workplace culture where employees actively engage in safe behaviors and take responsibility for their well-being. 

In conclusion, ensuring workplace safety is a shared responsibility between employers and employees. Personal protective equipment is a vital tool in safeguarding against workplace hazards, but its effectiveness depends on proper usage. Behavior-based safety complements PPE by addressing unsafe behaviors and promoting a culture of safety. By integrating these two approaches, businesses can create safer work environments, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries while safeguarding the well-being of their employees. 


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