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An eye on worker health and safety

Many industries rely on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to make the workplace safe for their workers. Unfortunately, a surprising number of construction and other workplace accidents occur because PPE were not used properly, or at all. According to a recent survey, roughly 9 out of 10 safety professionals acknowledged that they had witnessed workers not wearing safety equipment when they should. An additional twenty-nine percent said that they had seen workers not using PPE many times.

Workers do not arrive on a jobsite with a full understanding of what safety equipment to use, how to use it, when to use it and where it is required. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can mandate the use of protective equipment, it is up to employers to make sure that workers have the training they need to use the equipment properly. Moreover, it is up to employers to take the necessary steps to ensure that workers are using PPE to reduce or eliminate the risk of workplace injuries.

Most of the people surveyed believed that the failure to wear protective equipment stemmed from a belief among workers that it was not required. Some of the other reasons given include that the equipment was uncomfortable, did not fit properly, or was not available where they were doing their work. These reasons all point to a lack of proper training and emphasis on the importance of worker health and safety.

When used correctly, protective equipment can help workers avoid serious injury and even death. If an employer has failed to ensure that workers comply with OSHA safety guidelines and an injury or fatal accident resulted, that employer should be held accountable. Standing up for worker safety in every situation helps avoid future accidents and forces employers to make greater efforts to protect their workers from harm.

Source: KCWW, “Workers jeopardize their health and safety by failing to wear required safety equipment,” 27 July 2011

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