Factors affecting the use or non-use of personal protective equipment in the workplace and recommended interventions 

Factors affecting the use or non-use of personal protective equipment in the workplace and recommended interventions 

Whilst personal protective equipment does not eliminate the risk of exposure completely, it can still make the difference between a minor injury and a major injury. PPE is defined as any wearable items designed to keep people safe from exposure to occupational-related hazards. A recent study discovered that the non-use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the leading factors that cause fatal occupational falls in the construction industry.  

The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the work industry is influenced by several factors. These factors can include: 

  1. Regulatory requirements

    Regulatory bodies may mandate the use of specific types of PPE in certain industries or occupations through laws, regulations, or standards. Non-compliance can result in penalties, fines, or other legal consequences. These requirements are implemented to mitigate workplace hazards and reduce the risk of injuries or illnesses. 

  2. Organisational policies

    Organisational policies complement regulatory requirements and are developed by individual companies or institutions to further define and enforce the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) within their specific operations. These policies serve as internal guidelines that align with legal obligations while addressing the unique needs and risks within an organisation. Organisational policies establish expectations for compliance with PPE requirements and provide guidance on disciplinary actions for non-compliance. Organisational policies encourage continuous improvement.

  3. Individual attitudes and behaviours

    While regulatory requirements and organisational policies set the framework for PPE usage, it is ultimately up to individuals to adopt the proper mindset and behaviour regarding safety. Individual attitudes and behaviours are influenced by factors such as perception of risk, knowledge and awareness, comfort and fit, motivation and accountability as well as training and reinforcement.

  4. Training and Education

    Training and education are crucial components in promoting the effective and consistent use of personal protective equipment (PPE). By providing employees with the necessary knowledge and skills, training and education programs help individuals understand the importance of PPE, how to use it correctly, and how to maintain its effectiveness.

  5. Cost considerations

    Cost considerations are an important factor when it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE) as organisations need to balance the need for safety with financial considerations. While cost considerations are significant, they should not compromise the safety and well-being of employees.

  6. Availability of appropriate PPE

    The availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) can have a significant impact on its use within an organisation. It’s important for organisations to proactively monitor and assess the availability of PPE to ensure they can meet their safety requirements.

Recommended Interventions 

  1. Education and Training

    Provide comprehensive education and training programs to workers regarding the importance of PPE, its proper use, and the potential hazards they may encounter. Training should cover topics such as how to select, wear, adjust, and maintain PPE. Emphasise the benefits of PPE in preventing injuries and illnesses.

  2. Clear Policies and Procedures

    Establish clear and well-communicated policies and procedures regarding PPE use within the organisation. Ensure that these policies are easily accessible and understood by all employees. This can include guidelines for specific tasks or work areas, as well as consequences for non-compliance.

  3. Leadership Commitment

    Demonstrate visible commitment to PPE usage from top-level management and supervisors. When leaders prioritise and consistently use PPE themselves, it sets a positive example and reinforces the importance of compliance among employees.

  4. Employee Engagement and Involvement

    Involve workers in the decision-making process regarding PPE selection, implementation, and evaluation. Seek their input on the practicality and comfort of different PPE options. This participatory approach can increase buy-in and motivation to use PPE.

  5. Regular Audits and Inspections

    Conduct regular audits and inspections to ensure that PPE is being used correctly and consistently. Identify any barriers or challenges that workers may be facing and address them promptly. This can help maintain accountability and identify areas for improvement.

  6. Availability and Accessibility

    Ensure that appropriate PPE is always readily available to workers. This includes providing an adequate supply of PPE, maintaining an inventory of different sizes and types, and ensuring accessibility in work areas where it is needed.

  7. Feedback and Recognition

    Provide positive reinforcement and recognition to workers who consistently and correctly use PPE. Recognise their efforts and highlight the positive outcomes that result from their compliance. This can help foster a culture of safety and encourage others to follow suit.

  8. Continuous Evaluation and Improvement

    Regularly assess the effectiveness of PPE usage within the organisation. Seek feedback from workers, conduct surveys, and monitor incident reports to identify any gaps or areas for improvement. Use this feedback to refine PPE policies, procedures, and training programs. 


  1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Toolbox Talk – Raken (rakenapp.com) 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0925753520300606 – :~:text=These%20factors%20include%20accident%20experience%2C%20attitude%20towards%20using,workplace%20conditions%20%28i.e.%20PPE%20availability%20and%20workplace%20limitation%29. 
  3. OSHA website at: https://www.osha.gov/ 
  4. CDC’s PPE guidance at: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ppe/