Survey reveals PPE use on the rise

News ISEA September 24, 2004
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Results from a new survey of construction safety leaders shows that safety leaders shows that safety equipment use and awarenes

Results from a new survey of construction safety leaders shows that safety leaders shows that safety equipment use and awareness in heavy construction continue to rise, even though many workers in dangerous jobs remain under-protected.

The new findings come from the third study sponsored by the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) to track safety equipment use and awareness levels. ISEA sponsored the research program as part of its "Partnership for Worker Protection" communications initiative to prevent worker injuries through increased safety equipment usage.

Strategic Marketing Associates (SMA), a Stow, Ohio-based research firm that specializes in the construction industry, conducted all three studies through a combination of questionnaires and telephone interviews. The 2004 survey covered 204 safety leaders in the private sector and public sector. Respondents represented 42 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Responses indicated that between 2001 and 2004, nine of 10 personal protective equipment (PPE) types (hard hats, safety shoes/boots, protective eyewear, gloves, fall protection, hearing protection, respirators, protective coveralls and face shields) showed increases in the percentages of workers in heavy construction who are wearing them when needed. According to the study, the safety vest was the only type of PPE that declined in use over that three-year period.

"Hard hats, safety vests and safety shoes or boots continue to be the most commonly used types of PPE, with more than two-thirds of construction workers wearing them when needed," said SMA President Jim McKeen. "Face shields, protective coveralls and respirators are regularly worn when needed by the smallest percentages--about 45% each. However, those three PPE types all showed significant increases from the earlier studies.

All three surveys also asked the safety leaders to rate the value of PPE in minimizing the risk of accident or injury in comparison with five other protective measures--(1) training and education; (2) OSHA compliance; (3) barriers and cones; (4) signs and lights; and (5) flagger. All six measures were considered highly important, but only two--PPE and OSHA compliance--climbed in perceived importance relative to the 2001 and 2002 investigations. Only one--PPE--showed an increase from 2001 and 2002 and again from 2002 to 2004.

As in previous years, the 2004 survey asked respondents to indicate the primary reasons why construction workers do not use PPE more regularly. For the third time, the main reason cited by the safety leaders is because "employers do not require or enforce use." In 2004 it was the No. 1 or No. 2 reason given for eight of the 10 PPE types.

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