These days, the volatile economy is being blamed for a number of problems, including a lack of compliance with important worker safety procedures. According to a recent survey from Roswell, Ga.-based Kimberly-Clark Professional, 89% of safety professionals polled at the 2008 National Safety Council (NSC) Congress, held Sept. 23, 2008 in Anaheim, Calif., observed workers failing to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when they should have been.

Survey questionnaires were completed by 153 safety professionals who reported being responsible for purchasing, selecting, or influencing the purchase or selection of (or compliance with) PPE. The respondents included safety directors and managers, industrial hygienists, environmental managers, and purchasing professionals.

This is the third consecutive year that the Kimberly-Clark survey indicated a high rate of PPE noncompliance. A possible explanation for ongoing compliance issues could be the economy. In fact, 34% of respondents said it had affected worker safety training programs or resources. Of those who said the economy had impacted safety training or resources, the survey found:

  • 63% said it had led to less money for education and training.

  • 42% indicated it had resulted in reduced personnel to tackle safety training tasks.

  • 33% believed it had led to business concerns taking precedence over safety concerns.

In addition, this year's survey polled safety professionals about the measures they have taken or plan to take to encourage greater PPE compliance.

The top response was “improving existing education and training programs,” followed by “purchasing more comfortable PPE.” Increased monitoring of employees ranked third, with tying compliance to individual performance evaluations and purchasing more stylish PPE following.

To view the survey in its entirety, visit