Getting the best protection for your team doesn’t mean buying the most expensive safety gloves on the market or the ones with the most safety features—it means providing your team with the protection they need in gloves they’ll want to wear. So, how do you make that happen?
Keith Neill, Category Manager for PPE with Vallen, says that when selecting PPE, the trick is to find the best possible balance between protection, comfort, and cost.
“Of course, the main concern for companies and safety managers when selecting PPE is finding products that offer the protection needed. However, if it were that simple, companies could select the PPE that offers the most protection and be done. In reality, comfort is just as important as protection because if the gloves aren’t comfortable, employees aren’t going to wear them. And of course, cost is going to come into play at some point.”
Neill points out that when selecting safety gloves, companies struggle with the trade-off between offering comprehensive protection and dexterity.
“As a manager, a CEO, or an owner, you never want to put your people at risk. But when it comes to safety gloves, finding a pair that offers the appropriate protection with the dexterity to be worn for all tasks can be challenging.”
Superior Glove offers glove trials to all interested and qualified companies to help identify the PPE that works best for offering the protection, comfort, and dexterity their employees need.
Dwayne Lerner, Health, Safety & Environment Manager for Vallen believes that PPE trials are of the utmost importance when selecting PPE.
“In my experience, glove trials are the best way to ensure you’re getting your team great protection that they’re actually going to wear. For starters, the trial gets employees involved in the selection process and that involvement really helps to get people excited about it and can increase compliance down the road. It also ensures the selected gloves are PPE your team can do their job in and are going to want to wear; this is extremely important as I can tell you from personal experience, the majority of hand injuries occur after employees have removed their gloves to complete a task.”
Hand safety doesn’t stop there! Once you’ve identified the best gloves through a trial, the next step is encouraging employee buy-in and ensuring compliance.
Gaining Buy-In and Compliance
If you’re wondering where to start, Dwayne Lerner has some great tips for developing a safety-focused workplace.
“For any safety initiative, team member engagement is an absolute must. You can implement as many policies and procedures as you like, but if your team isn’t following them—or are, but not taking them seriously—you’re not going to see improvements in safety.” Lerner advises.
Carefully choosing key team members to participate in the glove trial helps a great deal when rolling out the new PPE to the rest of your employees.
“It’s fairly common for those employees who participated in the glove trial to be enthusiastic champions of the new PPE, as they feel a level of ownership in the decision. I’ve found that if companies identify influential employees and ask them to be a part of the glove trial, it’s more likely that you’ll get buy-in from the rest of your team afterward. When the message that these are good gloves to work in is coming from a peer that other employees respect and listen to, I see compliance rates skyrocket.”
In addition to ensuring employees wear their PPE, Lerner stresses that explaining to employees what’s at stake if they don’t follow proper safety procedures is key in maintaining a safe workplace.
“You can put your staff through hours of training videos and PowerPoints, clutter your walls with safety signs, and make safety one of your core values—but the best way to get people thinking seriously about safety is to show them exactly how an accident can change their life. First-hand accounts can be very powerful. When we bring in someone who lost mobility in their hand from a workplace accident and they talk about how their spouse has to help them use the washroom or how they can’t hug their grandchild—that’s when you see people really sit up and take notice.”
Lerner suggests incorporating safety chats into daily team start-up talks; if it’s something that’s brought up consistently, every day, people will start to think about safety each and every time they complete a task.
Safety Never Sleeps
So now you’ve completed a workplace hazard assessment, run a glove trial, selected the best gloves for your team, gained buy-in and compliance from employees, and saw a dramatic drop in injuries over the past six months. Time to kick up your feet and celebrate a job well done, right?
Not so fast. Both Neill and Lerner stress that the worst thing to do with a successful safety program is to simply let it be. Sustained safety in the workplace requires consistent follow-up, ensuring past initiatives are still performing as desired, and keeping tabs on any new issues or hazards that may develop.
“In my experience, follow-up and consistency is the difference between a successful safety program and one that falls short of expectations,” says Lerner. “I recommend performing hazard assessments on an annual basis and always asking employees about the performance of their PPE to make sure everything is still working as expected.”
Yearly inspections can also help identify if workflows have changed and whether new and improved safety solutions are needed.
“Most people don’t realize the incredible speed at which technology is moving in the safety sphere, especially when it comes to cut resistance,” added Neill. “You can get extreme cut-resistant gloves in very form-fitting shells now thanks to developments in material and yarn engineering, but I still see companies using bulky gloves that have to be removed for fine-detail tasks because they just don’t know what’s available.”
Safer Hands in Your Workplace
If you’re ready to do safety right, reach out to Superior Glove to set up your hazard assessment and glove trial. After your trial, the amazing team at Vallen can help you select PPE for your team and develop a program to make safety a part of your culture.
Reach out today and get started on a safer track!
Thank you to Keith Neill and Dwayne Lerner for their valuable contributions to this article. For more information or to contact Vallen, please visit their website at www.vallen.ca.