What Can You Do If An Employee Won’t Wear Safety Items At Work?

For most employees who work in hazardous environments, whether industrial, chemical or medical, they recognize and appreciate the need to wear personal protective equipment as required, and generally don’t resist when asked to gear up at work. They want to keep themselves safe, and also want to keep their colleagues safe and protected, too. 

However, there will occasionally be those employees who either refuse to wear what they’re asked to, or kick up a fuss over doing so. While this obviously creates an issue for the employee themselves, it creates arguably an even bigger issue for the employer, too. 

If you’re an employer and are struggling to make your workers understand the importance of wearing PPE, there are a number of things you can do to help manage the situation effectively:

Calmly explain what might happen if they don’t wear safety items

It might be helpful to hire a safety specialist who can come to your workplace and talk to the employees in person about the benefits of wearing protective items at work, and to outline to them what can happen when they aren’t worn. 

An employee not wearing the appropriate safety items for the environment they’re working in risk being hit on the head by falling objects, being burnt by chemicals or suffering an electric shock, breathing in air that’s contaminated, or even be exposed to an excessive amount of noise or vibration that could leave them with lasting health issues and/or injuries. 

An employee wearing the appropriate safety items while fulfilling the role they’re paid to do, is simply safer and less likely to develop any health conditions that might cause them temporary or permanent problems. Hearing loss and asthma are both examples of conditions that can result from a failure to wear PPE in the workplace. 

Your business is legally required to enforce the wearing of PPE

Whether your employees care or not, it might be worth explaining to them that your business could face legal action if one of them suffers an injury at work which can clearly be linked to a lack of PPE. Smaller businesses who face high legal costs as a result of workplace injuries may be forced to close down altogether, causing employees to lose their jobs. 

Is refusal to wear safety items grounds for dismissal?

It’s worth letting your employees know, right from the get go, that anyone refusing to wear the appropriate PPE provided for them, could be dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct. This will likely be enough to convince most employees to wear their goggles, gloves, hard hats and steel capped shoes

By wearing the appropriate safety items as their manager or boss, you can also help set a good example for your employees, and show them that you value the importance of PPE and of wearing it properly as and when instructed to. It might also be worth arranging for more safety training to take place for your employees, which should help raise awareness of the need for wearing certain safety items in the workplace. 

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