To wear gloves or not to wear gloves, that is the question.
If only it were that simple.
For anyone who has been in charge of a personal protective equipment (PPE) program or safety on a jobsite, you know how difficult (and frustrating!) it can be to make sure everyone is in compliance and wearing the proper gear. Of course, achieving 100% compliance is a goal akin to relying on winning the Powerball to fund your retirement, i.e. it’s not going to happen. Non-compliance can be extremely discouraging, especially when you feel like you’ve done everything to encourage workers to wear their PPE.
But if you’re only considering the employee’s decision of whether to wear gloves or not, you’re only scratching the surface. There’s a whole throng of considerations and influences that factor into whether someone decides to wear their safety gloves; a thorough understanding of all the elements that impact an employee’s decision of whether to wear gloves can help you to improve your safety programs and compliance rates.
Instead of trying to get inside the minds of your employees, let us do the work for you! We put together a decision tree outlining the many different paths the journey to PPE compliance can take, which can help you to improve your safety and PPE program.
The fundamental decision facing every worker is the decision of whether or not to wear protective gloves. This decision can be separated into internal and external considerations.
Internally, each person is influenced by their own perception of risk. This perception can be motivated by the company itself or the worker’s own experience. In a company culture where safety is encouraged, training is provided, and the majority of the workers wear the proper PPE, it’s likely that this will encourage individual workers to wear their gloves. Conversely, in a company that doesn’t prioritize safety training and has a large percentage of workers who don’t wear PPE, a worker is unlikely to make the choice to wear their safety gloves.
However, even in a company culture that doesn’t prioritize safety, workers can choose to wear gloves based on the exposure of the work and their own experiences. For instance, if a particular task involves handling sharp objects or reaching in somewhere with extreme heat, a worker will probably be more inclined to wear protective gloves than when performing a task without any obvious risks. Of course, the length of time that the worker will be performing a particular task plays a role in the decision as well. Someone who will be spending hours opening packages with a box cutter is more likely to feel the need for protective gloves than someone who is only opening one package.
In addition to their own personal perception of risk, workers can also be influenced by external factors to wear PPE. This could be in the form of an incentive or enforcement. If you are working in an environment where people are recognized or rewarded for wearing PPE, you will probably be more likely to wear yours. If you work in an environment where not wearing PPE can result in a reprimand or even loss of employment, this could also make you more inclined to wear yours.
Barriers to Wearing Protective Gloves
There are certain barriers that can make compliance difficult or impossible even for those employees who want to wear protective gloves. These barriers can be the fault of the gloves themselves or the processes employers have put in place.
There is no one-size-fits-all for gloves. There’s a reason we offer over 3,500 different styles of gloves, and that reason is that there is a specific task each of those gloves can perform that others cannot. Too much protection is not necessarily a good thing; if your glove is overprotecting the wearer, it could be too bulky or uncomfortable for the task, causing workers to do the absolute worst thing – take off their gloves.
If you’re not sure whether your team has the best gloves for the jobs they’re performing, join the Superior Advocate Partnership Program and have one of our knowledgeable associates come visit your worksite and evaluate your safety glove and sleeve needs.
If an employer doesn’t provide protective gloves and employees are expected to procure their own, this can be a huge impediment towards compliance. The cost of protective gloves could be prohibitive to some employees or it may be an inconvenience for them. Either way, even if the employee feels favorably about wearing gloves, by not making protection available the employer has created a barrier to compliance.
Even when employers do provide protective gloves, it can sometimes be done in a way that makes it inconvenient for employees. Perhaps they are required to return their old pair of gloves to receive a new pair; if that morning they happened to have left their old gloves in their truck, they may simple choose to work without gloves rather than go back to retrieve their old pair. Similarly, if PPE is provided from a location that is not convenient to the work area or jobsite, employees are less likely to go out of their way to wear protection than if it was provided at arm’s reach.
Improving Your Safety and PPE Program
An employee’s decision of whether to wear protective gloves is not as simple a choice as it may seem. Many considerations can factor into the employee’s decision. In order to improve and enhance your safety and PPE program, it’s important you understand the considerations that go into employees’ decisions of whether to wear protective gloves. With a thorough understanding of the decision process, you can design your programs to better encourage the behavior you want.
Click here to download your own printable copy of the Protective Gloves Decision Tree!