Coaching to Safety: The Four C’s



Staff buy-in to the concept of safety gear is crucial. Even though employers are paying for required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), getting employees to wear it isn’t always that easy. PPE includes anything that is used to protect the body against the effects of contamination or physical harm. Examples of this would be:

Other examples or PPE include hearing protection devices, safety harnesses, life jackets, and breathing protection devices—all of which are created with employee safety in mind.

Despite the clear benefit of Personal Protective Equipment, some staff may still be reluctant to wear it. They might say it is uncomfortable, unnecessary, or even aesthetically unappealing.  While wearing safety gear should be a priority for everyone, it is important to stress to all staff the ‘why’ behind it.

Employees must understand that it is ultimately their responsibility to ensure they are protecting themselves at all times. Painting a picture of how an accident can go awry if an employee is not properly protected might better help them understand the importance of PPE. Additionally, engaging employees in a process will aid in their understanding that you have their best interest at heart.

An effective model with which to train employees on utilizing occupational safety gear can be summed up in 4 C’s:

Create – Create the opportunity. Provide safety apparel to staff with the understanding that it is for their protection. When a situation arises where a worker might dispute something like the way gear fits, educate them. For example, a smaller female worker may have concerns about appropriately-fitting PPE. Explain to her that she has options and you will work with her to find apparel that is comfortable and compliant.

Communicate – Give employees the tools needed to research guidelines on their own. Explain OSHA and provide resources to highlight safety standards.

Coach – Talk with staff. Are they reluctant to wear safety apparel? Find out the reasons behind staff resistance and coach to them. What can be done to combat employee resistance and how can you help? Reinforce that safety gear is not only for the employee’s protection, it is the law.

Consistency – Staff reluctance is never an excuse to forego the law. There is no wiggle room here. Work with employees to combat any objections you receive and reinforce that it is your job to make sure they use PPE. Ensure that staff understands protective gear is not an option and reinforce it regularly by reiterating it is a condition of employment. As an employer, you must monitor best practices in safety and ensure they are followed on a consistent basis. Over time, people might become careless, complacent, or forgetful, which may cause them to take dangerous shortcuts. Having managers and supervisors audit compliance is an effective method with which to ensure employees are wearing safety gear at all times. Further, making it easy for employees to access information and apparel will help in the process.


Posted on December 15, 2014, in coaching, Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, safety training and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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