When you manage a manufacturing facility, one of your primary concerns should be protecting your workers, and that certainly includes providing them with all the protective gear they need to get the job done right — and safely. Of course, over time, PPE can break down for any number of reasons, and you should have plenty of extras on hand to keep workers safe.
In addition, though, you should also know when it's time to swap out PPE that is close to failing, and train your workers to be able to spot those warning signs as well. That way, it's not just one party responsible for spotting potential issues. The following are a few of the big signs that the time has come to swap out old gear for new options:
1) When it's becoming discolored
A simple indicator that your PPE — particularly the stuff your workers use to protect their eyes, nose and mouth — is getting a little long in the tooth is if its discolored in some way, according to Axiom Equipment Group. This is simply a visual indicator that the gear has been used heavily and put in plenty of hours protecting your employees, but has likely begun to reach the end of its useful life.
2) When there's obvious wear and tear
This should go without saying, but if workers start to notice that protective gear like face masks or work gloves is ripping, tearing or developing holes, then it's time to get rid of it, according to PPE.org. Even the smallest visible issue of this type could be an indicator that the PPE is close to failing, or could really do so at any time. Don't let your employees chance it: If they see an issue, they should get a replacement right away.
3) When it's ill-fitting
Outfitting your staff in all the right PPE for their given jobs is not a one-size-fits-all proposition; you need to make sure you aren't asking people to wear gear that doesn't fit properly, PPE.org advised. This may be particularly important with new hires, who may inherit hand-me-down PPE. However, it's important to ensure your in-house collection of PPE is right-sized to meet the exact size requirements of everyone under your roof, so that no one goes without.
4) When recommended by the manufacturer
Finally, the companies that make PPE will typically have a predetermined use life for just about any piece of gear you use, and even if it's still in good shape overall, you should swap it out as recommended, according to Synergo Consultancy. In addition, strive to ensure your employees are using the gear as directed; if something is a single-use piece of PPE, it should only be used that one time, no matter how convenient it is to keep using something that appears to be in good shape.