Most Common Excuses Workers Give for Not Wearing PPE


Workers are supposed to use PPE to protect themselves from getting hurt. But workers aren’t always eager to wear PPE. And they give many excuses for not doing so.

We recently polled OHS Insider members on the most common excuses their workers give for not wearing PPE. Thirty-six people participated. The results:

  • It’s uncomfortable (15)
  • It’s hot (13)
  • It’s unnecessary (10)
  • It’s ugly (3)
  • It isn’t easily accessible (3)
  • It doesn’t fit (1).

And it turns out that these results aren’t unusual at all. Kimberly-Clark Professional conducted an online survey of 119 EHS professionals on their work force PPE compliance. The results reveal that 89% of safety professionals saw workers not wearing PPE when it was needed, with 29% claiming they’d noted this unsafe behaviour on multiple occasions.

Kimberly-Clark Survey

Of the 119 survey participants, 63% were safety directors or managers, while the other 37% were industrial hygienists, facilities or general managers, environmental managers or held other positions. But all respondents said they were responsible for purchasing, selecting or influencing the purchase or selection of PPE.

The most common reason for PPE noncompliance (at 69%) was the belief that PPE wasn’t necessary. But workers also opted out of donning PPE if they thought it was uncomfortable, too hot, a poor fit, not available near them or unattractive.

According to 24% of survey respondents, eye protection proved to be the “most challenging” category in terms of PPE compliance, followed by hearing protection (18%), respiratory protection/masks (17%), protective apparel (16%), gloves (14%) and head protection (4%).

EHS professionals who responded to the survey understood the severity of the situation—78% said workplace incidents and injuries were the concerns most likely to keep them up at night. Their two top strategies for encouraging PPE compliance:

  • Improving education and training programs (61%)
  • Increased monitoring of employees (48%).

Other strategies included purchasing more comfortable PPE; tying compliance to individual performance evaluations; purchasing more stylish PPE; and developing incentive programs.

What strategies do you use to get workers to wear their PPE when required?