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Tips to get betterPPE compliance
When Michelle L. McCarthy, RN, COHN, on-site medical case manager for Genex Services in Wayne, PA, does walkthroughs, one of the things she looks for is appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE). "One of the biggest problems with PPE is the use of hearing protection. It is very important to make sure that the foam ear plugs are worn properly," she says.
If the ear plugs are easily visible, they are probably not worn correctly, says McCarthy. That gives her the chance to stop and demonstrate the proper way to roll the ear plug, open the ear canal, and fit the plug.
Another common problem is ear muffs that do not fit properly. This may be because the worker is also wearing eye protection such as glasses or goggles.
"In these instances, I will discuss why muffs are not appropriate," says McCarthy. "Also, unless designed to be worn behind the head, the band should be snug across the top of the head with the outside of the ear completely covered by the muff. You cannot remove one side for talking!"
Peggy Ann Berry, MSN, RN, COHN-S, SPHR, president of the Ohio Association of Occupational Health Nurses, says that getting input from workers is "especially important" when it comes to PPE.
"Employee choice of safety glasses or hearing protection creates active engagement in the process," she says. "This increases awareness and compliance with mandatory safety programs."
Berry says that focus groups are an excellent way to determine the right fit for PPE. "Employees are given multiple choices about PPE," she says. "This involves them in the decision-making process and increases compliance."'
Recognition of those participating in the PPE focus groups is important. "This can be done through company newsletters, or giving shirts or caps as a way of expressing appreciation for their effort," says Berry.