Issue of Compliance with Use of Personal Protective Equipment among Wastewater Workers across the Southeast Region of the United States

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health




Wastewater workers are exposed to different occupational hazards such as chemicals, gases, viruses, and bacteria. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a significant factor that can reduce or decrease the probability of an accident from hazardous exposures to chemicals and microbial contaminants. The purpose of this study was to examine wastewater worker’s beliefs and practices on wearing PPE through the integration of the Health Belief Model (HBM), identify the impact that management has on wastewater workers wearing PPE, and determine the predictors of PPE compliance among workers in the wastewater industry. Data was collected from 272 wastewater workers located at 33 wastewater facilities across the southeast region of the United States. Descriptive statistical analysis was conducted to present frequency distributions of participants’ knowledge and compliance with wearing PPE. Univariate and multiple linear regression models were applied to determine the association of predictors of interest with PPE compliance. Wastewater workers were knowledgeable of occupational exposures and PPE requirements at their facility. Positive predictors of PPE compliance were perceived susceptibility and perceived severity of contracting an occupational illness (p < 0.05). A negative association was identified between managers setting the example of wearing PPE sometimes and PPE compliance (p < 0.05). Utilizing perceived susceptibility and severity for safety programs and interventions may improve PPE compliance among wastewater workers.


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