As a supplier of safety clothing and equipment, our customers often come to us for advice on how to look after their protective clothing and PPE to ensure their long lasting effectiveness.
There are many myths around expiry dates and PPE conformity, but in fact there is no such thing as a expiry date on these items, unless one is stated by the manufacturer, for example on charcoal-filled respirator filters.
As a rule of thumb, PPE is not expected to be sold more than five years after manufacture and should not be in use more than five years after its first use.
It is essential that PPE is complete, clean and in good condition every time it is used. The secret to long life and guaranteed performance is to ensure that all protective clothing and equipment is kept in good condition, regularly cleaned, maintained and stored correctly. It should also be examined at each use by a competent person, who may be the user themselves, their line manager or the person issuing PPE.
Tips for taking care of your PPE
- When taking off a respiratory mask, ensure that it is not possible for the inside of the mask to become contaminated by any hazardous substances or debris. Check that any loose debris is removed from the filters and store the mask in a contaminant-free environment.
- Safety helmets should always be stored in a cool place away from natural sunlight, as long-term exposure to extreme environmental conditions can cause degradation, which reduces the strength and efficiency of the helmets.
- Safety glasses should be stored in a pouch to protect the lenses from damage.
- Safety boots, if wet, should be dried slowly to resist leather deterioration. It’s recommended that users who regularly get their boots wet have two pairs, to allow sufficient drying time.
- Fall arrest harness webbing should be checked thoroughly for frays or cuts. Check all buckles and fitting for damage or wear and that the harness is not soiled, as many contaminants can weaken the webbing. Remember, if you slip, your life depends on it.
- Hi vis clothing must be clean, as soiling can inhibit reflectivity, and reflective tape must be complete, otherwise the garment will be non-compliant and expose the wearer to unnecessary risks of not being seen in dangerous situations.
How to get the best from your PPE
When purchasing and issuing personal protective equipment, here are some points to bear in mind:
- Ensure you have a competent person responsible for checks and maintenance
- Check that employees are making proper use of PPE and report its loss, destruction or any faults with it immediately
- Display safety signs to remind staff that PPE should be worn
- Implement a regular regime of cleaning and maintenance of all PPE and protective clothing
- Always use replacement parts which match the original
- Have a supply of replacement PPE and protective clothing in stock – unless a task requiring PPE can be delayed until new equipment is obtained, replacements must be readily available
- Keep a supply of appropriate disposable suits which are useful for visitors who need protective clothing and for dirty jobs where laundry costs are high
- Keep up-to-date regarding any changes in equipment, materials and methods in your workforce as this may require a change to the PPE and protective clothing required
There are many potential hazards associated with dirty or poorly maintained personal protective equipment, among them severe burns, impaired vision due to eye and face protection with dirty, scratched, or fogged lenses and skin irritation, or chemical absorption, due to contaminated PPE.
Maintenance including cleaning and examination, can be carried out by the wearer but should replacement parts, repairs or thorough examination be required this must be carried by competent personnel.
Adequate storage facilities for PPE must also be provided for when it is not in use.
Discover Contego’s extensive range of high visibility clothing and PPE – download the Contego Catalogue now, visit our website www.contegosafety.co.uk or contact our friendly team on 0800 122 3323 or firstname.lastname@example.org for advice or to place your order.