Warehouse safety equipment, which includes personal protective equipment, or PPE, is imperative to ensure that workers stay safe. Supplying just any old gear, or the same gear for everyone, won’t get the job done.
The goal is 100 percent compliance and to provide the greatest possible level of safety for all workers. To achieve this, you must supply the right gear for each individual, and it must be appropriate for the task at hand.
Address the Individual: One Size Never Fits All
Sizing and fit are critical concerns when it comes to warehouse safety equipment. Ill-fitting clothing, gloves, and glasses are not only uncomfortable, but they make dangerous tasks even riskier.
Clothes that don’t fit properly, be they too big or too small, bind and gap. This impairs the ability to move freely and is uncomfortable. Pants that are too long create tripping hazards, as does poorly fitting footwear. Sleeves that are too long get in the way of hands, and loose clothing may snag or catch on equipment. Constantly readjusting clothes is distracting: distractions are a primary cause of workplace injuries.
Clothing that doesn’t fit well looks bad. No one relishes looking dumpy or stretching the seams of their clothes.
Do you have women in your workforce? Traditional wearable safety gear is “gender neutral” or unisex, which in reality often means it’s sized and shaped to fit men. This gear is typically too large for women and doesn’t accommodate their different body proportions.
To accommodate the needs of the women in your workforce, make sure your safety supplier stocks an adequate selection of female-specific PPE. If they don’t, either request that they increase their offerings, or take your business elsewhere.
Ill-fitting gloves impair hand mobility and the ability to grip well. This is a common complaint among workers and often given as the reason why they forego safety gloves altogether. Consider that most hand lacerations are a result of workers using dangerous, non-safety blades and not wearing protective gloves.
Lacerations are a huge cost in terms of pain, recovery, possible time away from work, and rehab, or worse: permanent damage. A laceration can easily result in the following:
- An increase in the Total Recordable Incident Rate
- Paid time off
- Increased insurance premiums
- Lost productivity
- Lowered employee morale
- Worker’s compensation
- Hospital bills and rehabilitation costs
Searching for and supplying your workers with quality gloves that fit well is always worth the investment in time and money.
According to Prevent Blindness, “More than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day.” The organization adds, “Experts believe that the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90 percent of eye injuries in accidents.” That’s a ringing endorsement for supplying the right eyewear! This starts with fit.
Glasses need to fit snugly, but not too snugly. Glasses that are too big will slide or fall off, which is a nuisance, and isn’t making your worker safer—just the opposite in fact. Glasses that are too small create pressure points on the head and face, and these lead to headaches and general discomfort. Did you ever buy a cheap pair of sunglasses that were a little too tight and pressed on your temples? It hurts.
Fidgeting with equipment or suffering from pain is a distraction, which, as mentioned before, causes injuries.
The Right Equipment for the Job
Safety equipment is often made for a specific task. Just as you should never use a tool for a job it wasn’t intended for, workers shouldn’t wear safety gear not suited to their tasks.
For instance, there are many levels of cut-resistant gloves. Make sure you provide the right ones. If chemical burns are a more pressing hazard, make sure the gloves you supply are rated for that type of protection, and so on.
Safety glass lenses come in a variety of colors and tints. These are suited for different environments. The wrong lenses can cause eye strain, which leads to eye fatigue, headaches, and impaired vision.
This short video provides a guide to popular lens colors and coatings:
When making your warehouse safety equipment list, start with all of the tasks that require protective gear and note who performs those tasks. Then make sure each piece of safety equipment is the correct one for the task, and that each person performing that task has the gear that’s right for them.
Location, Location, Location: Get Specific
Accessibility is a factor when it comes to whether or not workers will don required safety equipment. In warehouse environments, store PPE near where it’s used. The more convenient you make it for your workers to use their PPE, the more likely they will be to comply.
Shankar Vedantam, the host of the popular podcast Hidden Brain, discovered this during an interview with Peter Pronovost, the Johns Hopkins medicine senior vice president for patient safety and quality. Pronovost revealed that doctors were less inclined to don safety wearables like caps, gowns, and masks if these items weren’t easily accessible. The hospital implemented rolling carts stocked with all necessary gear and staff delivered them to the doctors: compliance rose from 30 to 75 percent.
A simple change can make a big difference.
Strike a Pose
People are more likely to wear gear that they feel good in. Introduce some fashion into this functional wear. This may seem a like a frivolous concern, but it can be the difference between someone wearing their gear or not. This is especially true for more image-conscious staff, like younger workers. It’s worth the effort to source gear your workers will wear.
Consider, too, that if your workforce looks nicer, it promotes a better public image and boosts worker morale. That’s good for business.
Your Safety Equipment Experience
What rate of compliance do you experience when it comes to staff using proper PPE? Do you find it challenging to get workers to wear safety gear? What successful strategies have you implemented?
Please share your warehouse safety equipment experiences.