Using personal protective equipment (PPE) to control risks at work

4. Maintenance

PPE must be properly looked after and stored when not in use, for example in a dry, clean cupboard. If it is reusable it must be cleaned and kept in good condition.

Think about:

  • using the correct replacement parts, following the manufacturer’s replacement schedule
  • keeping replacement PPE available
  • who is responsible for maintenance and how they should do this

How to maintain equipment

Some maintenance can be done by workers themselves, such as replacing a shoelace which can be done by the wearer. More specialist equipment, such as a harness for working at height, may need to be sent back to the manufacturer if maintenance is required.

The effectiveness of some types of PPE, particularly clothing, will be significantly reduced if they are not kept clean. Hi-vis jackets, trousers and coveralls must be cleaned regularly to ensure the retroreflective strips continue to be easily identifiable

Keep a supply of appropriate disposable suits. They are useful for dirty jobs where laundry costs are high, for example for visitors who need protective clothing.

Workers must make proper use of PPE and report any loss, destruction or obvious defect on the PPE they are given.

Monitor and review

Check regularly that PPE is used – if it isn't, find out why.

Safety signs can be a useful reminder that PPE should be worn – many workplaces will often have signs at the entrance indicating what sort of PPE should be worn.

Take note of any changes in equipment, materials and methods – you may need to update what you provide.

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Updated 2024-03-25