Introducing the Power of Choice to FR Clothing Programs

This is the first post in a six-part series on the power of choice in your arc-rated flame resistant (FR) clothing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) programs. Additional posts in this series explore the top 5 reasons cited by safety managers for moving to a managed choice program, including improved compliance, comfort, access to innovations, morale, and cost reduction. Stay tuned for our next post which focuses on compliance and why compliance rates increase when employees are offered choice.

Human nature is to resist being told what to do because lack of control is oppressive and disempowering, even when you recognize the requirement is in your best interest.  However, when people have options, even when all those options meet the requirements, they are more likely to comply, more likely to be comfortable, and more likely to be satisfied with their choice. The same goes for PPE programs.

In many industries, like NFPA 70E, employee clothing is governed by certain safety standards or workplace requirements the garments must meet. Employers may decide to dictate a single shirt and pant combination in a single fabric, weight, style, and color. This is especially common with rental programs, which have traditionally been utilized to outfit workers for NFPA 70E compliance and are financially incented to limit the volume of clothing in service. However, these “no-choice” programs often lead to a number of challenges:

  • Workers not wearing PPE at all, or not wearing it properly
  • Workers not properly maintaining clothing out of resentment
  • Reduced productivity due to diminished morale
  • High investment of management’s time administering clothing programs

Luckily, these problems have a realistic solution that improves compliance, comfort, access to innovations, morale, and reduces cost: offer employee-level product choice through a managed PPE program.

Compliance

The problem with “no-choice” programs is that employees feel like they have no control over something that they normally have complete control over – what they wear on a daily basis. Workers that are given a choice are more likely to take pride in the clothing they’ve selected and therefore, more likely to wear the required clothing and maintain it properly.

Compliance rates rise considerably when individual wearers are empowered with choice, as we’ll explore more in depth in the next post in this series. In fact, a survey of 2,000 FRC wearers demonstrated that the #1 driver of customer satisfaction with a FRC clothing program is “a wide selection of available garments.”

Comfort

If workers do not like or feel uncomfortable in the required clothing, they may alter it (rolling up sleeves, taking off protective layers, etc.) to make it more comfortable or – worse! – choose not to wear it altogether. This leads to potentially expensive non-compliance issues and – critically – could result in a safety incident.

Because comfort is subjective – differing from person to person, day to day – there is simply no way for a no-choice program to make everyone, or even a majority of people, happy. Alternately, permitting workers to choose from a reasonable array of styles, colors, weights, fabrics, and brands (all meeting the protective needs of the company), reduces complaints, and increases compliance.

Access to Innovation

A no-choice program (which typically have contracts lasting 3-5 years) limits the wearers to one fabric, color, and garment style. This severely restricts your ability to leverage choice up front, and product and fabric innovation as it occurs.  With recent advancements in FR clothing style, workers are increasingly expecting their FR clothing to offer the same comfort, fit, and characteristics as their favorite everyday clothing.

To meet employee’s expectation, companies should consider creating a PPE program that ensures access to products that increase wearer satisfaction. “Catalog” or choice programs are designed to allow addition and subtraction of included garments, allowing real-time access to more comfortable, more stylish, or innovative garments as they become available.

Morale

It’s no surprise that morale has a powerful impact on productivity. What employers may not realize is that they can boost morale by introducing choice in their PPE program. The physical response to comfort, coupled with the satisfaction that comes with wearing stylish brands, instead of boxy, industrial-looking “work clothing” creates wearer satisfaction and better attitude toward FR and PPE programs.

A simple introduction of choice in employee’s PPE program often leads to a halo effect in which workers think more highly of their company as a whole. Complaints fall dramatically and morale rises, leading to happy employees and increased productivity.

Cost

Product cost is only one way of realizing cost savings when switching from a no-choice program to a choice program. You may also experience a dramatic reduction of management time spent on handling the program and fielding complains, increased work output as less time is spent on clothing issues by wearers, and increased service life of the garments as a result of better care.

 

Follow along as we expand on each of the topics above throughout the series!

Contact us today to learn more about Tyndale’s solution, which features an automated company-funded program that provides each employee with an annual allowance or allotment from which employees can purchase a preferred combination of company-approved FR clothing. This allows workers to choose from a variety of FR clothing styles and fabrics—driving end-user satisfaction, comfort, and compliance.

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