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The hazards in construction work require personal protective equipment (PPE) to be worn on many jobsites. However, serious issues can arise when employees don’t wear their PPE. There are numerous reasons this occurs, but let’s focus on three.

It doesn’t fit properly

PPE that doesn’t fit is often the reason construction workers don’t wear it. Things like safety footwear, hardhats, safety glasses, and gloves all come to mind.

Safety footwear needs to be the proper size and often it’s not. That’s because when it’s tried on in the store, the wrong size is purchased. Feet tend to be smaller in the morning and during the day they expand. That’s because the feet swell, especially if workers are walking around a jobsite all day. That’s why it’s recommended to try on shoes in the late afternoon to ensure they fit right.

Hardhats need to be adjusted correctly to fit properly. That’s why workers are given their own hard hat. Once it’s adjusted properly, you typically don’t have to mess with it again. The hat’s suspension is what’s adjusted, so if the suspension is worn out, or not installed correctly, the hat won’t fit and will be uncomfortable to wear.

People’s heads are different sizes and safety glasses need to be matched to that size. If not, the glasses won’t sit on the face properly. That’s why employers need to have a selection of safety glasses on hand to provide the correct size. If you need a smaller size look for the letter “H” on the frame.

Gloves that don’t fit the user are certainly uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Hand size can vary greatly from person to person. That’s why gloves come in different sizes and why you need to have all sizes on hand (no pun intended). Measuring the hand is the best way to find the correct size (from XS to XXL).

It gets lost or stolen

Safety glasses, hearing protection, gloves, are three types of PPE that can get misplaced or lost. In fact, some safety glasses are very stylish and rather expensive, compared to your run-of-the mill safety glasses. These stylish glasses tend to disappear if left unattended, which is why workers often have a special place to keep them when wearing them, such as in a locked toolbox.

Employers are often reluctant to keep replacing these high-end safety glasses if they consistently get lost. They may just hand workers a pair of cheaper, but just as effective, glasses.

Other employees aren’t wearing their PPE

On some jobsites every employee is wearing the PPE they’re required to wear, and on other jobsites very few are doing so. There are several reasons for this, including peer pressure or forgetfulness. However, a common dealbreaker for workers failing to wear PPE is not seeing their supervisors or other safety professionals wear theirs.

That sends mixed signals and makes it difficult to enforce PPE usage. Consistent messaging on wearing required PPE must be communicated and enforced as needed.

Key to remember

Because construction jobsites can be hazardous places, it’s important for employees to wear their issued PPE. If it doesn’t fit properly, it’s lost or missing, or if there’s a lack of consistent messaging, injuries will continue to occur.