Two Reasons to Make Your Employees Wear Safety Equipment


OSHA requires employers to make employees wear protective equipment.
OSHA requires employers to make employees wear protective equipment.

Early in my career I received some excellent safety training and that training has remained with me. When I am in a grocery store and I see a slip hazard I point it out to a manager. As I drive around and I happen to see a lawn care worker using a leaf blower and not using hearing protection or eye protection I cringe. When I do my own yardwork I wear hearing protection and eye protection. I think it is important for companies to be conscious of how important this is, so here are two reasons to make your employees wear safety equipment.
Reason #1
Essentially it is the law. OSHA standards dictate that employers much make safety equipment available for all positions where such equipment is needed. A recent ruling by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) made it clear that not only must an employer furnish and make available safety equipment they must also require employees to wear the necessary protective equipment. Attorney Howard Mavity of Fisher & Phillips LLP quoted the commission as saying “the employer is responsible for requiring the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment in all operations where there is an exposure to hazardous conditions and where [there is a] need for using such equipment to reduce the hazards to the employees.”  This ruling overturned the decision of an administrative law judge to the contrary. I am certain that future rulings will take into consideration this standard.
Reason #2
The second reason is that it makes good business sense. Injured employees cost the business in terms of:

  • Lost time
  • Lost productivity
  • Increased workers’ comp costs
  • The administrative burden of recording and investigating accidents
  • The potential increased scrutiny of OSHA with a resulting inspection

More importantly is the potential damage done to a person. Injuries, in addition to the physical pain, also cost the employee a great deal of personal pain with disruption to their life. Family, friends and co-workers suffer when someone gets hurt. I have been in several situations where I have had to deal with injuries before and I have never enjoyed explaining to a family what had happened.
Make good safety practices a policy
Having a good safety policy and training program in place will not only help you comply with OSHA it will also help keep people healthy. If you have an employee who endangers themselves and those around them by refusing to wear proper equipment then they need to be dealt with quickly and sternly even to the point of (everyone say it with me) “discipline up to and including termination.”

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