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5 considerations for storing and maintaining your PPE

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5 considerations for storing and maintaining your ppe5 considerations for storing and maintaining your PPE

Nearly every workplace holds potential hazards for employees. And, when you're working in an environment or job role that involves a heightened level of danger, such as working at height or with chemicals, personal protective equipment (PPE) can be the last line of defence should your primary risk management measures fail.

However, your responsibilities as an employer don't end after you've identified, sourced, and introduced suitable PPE to your workforce. (Read More) 

You need to make sure that your equipment is both stored and maintained properly to ensure it's always in good condition and ready to use. Below, we've listed five considerations you need to make to ensure this happens.

Assign responsibility to a suitably trained individual

As part of your risk assessment strategy, you should already have considered who to appoint as a competent person — someone with the necessary skills and expertise to oversee hazardous tasks. And, in addition to supervising work, they will need to assume responsibility for inspecting the condition of your PPE and checking it's being used correctly.

If you are yet to appoint a competent person, it's worth enrolling them onto a training course for health and safety, such as this one offered by Worksafe UK, which covers the requirements of the role. You'll also need to make sure this person knowledge of PPE legislation, such as LOLER, PUWER, and COSHH.

Ensure you have an appropriate storage location for your PPE

To ensure your PPE is always in good condition and ready to be used, you need to store it in a location where it will not suffer environmental damage and is easily accessible. Providing a dedicated storage solution will also ensure that your staff have somewhere to return PPE items after use, reducing the risk of important equipment going missing.

Shared use PPE can usually be stored in a place that is readily accessible, such as on shelving or in a cupboard, but specialist, expensive, or personal use PPE may require a locked option to provide an extra level of security. The range of lockers at Zoro are a great choice, as there a variety of different types to suit your needs. For instance, they have mesh lockers that are ideal for equipment that needs to be aired after use but also requires locking away.

Have a plan for checking and replacing faulty PPE

As we've mentioned, your competent person should assume responsibility for inspecting equipment on a regular basis. Having said that, you should also make it clear to staff that they should report any faulty PPE so that it can be properly repaired or replaced.

There are a couple of other things to consider when it comes to the maintenance of PPE. For one, you will need to make sure that you have a ready supply of suitable parts for repairs or if equipment has a piece that needs replacing intermittently, such as a filter in a respirator. You will also need to make sure that your competent person has sufficient knowledge for installing parts or carrying out repairs to the PPE manufacturers’ standards. If not, look to provide training or employ the services of a professional for maintenance.

Provide training in the use and storage of PPE

To minimise damage or loss to your PPE, you need to provide your workforce with adequate training to make sure they know how to correctly use and store each item. If they're able to do this in line with the manufacturer's instructions, your PPE is likely to remain in better condition, improving safety standards and reducing the need to invest in new equipment before it should be required.

It's a good idea to supplement any training programme with signage around your workplace that acts as a reminder and a reference for staff when using PPE. Should you need assistance in delivering instruction, you may consider investing in PPE familiarisation training for your employees: this programme from High Speed Training is CPD Certified and can be delivered remotely.

Monitor the use of PPE in your workplace

It's estimated that 80% of accidents in the workplace can be attributed, at least in part, to human error, according to statistics from HSE, so it's important to ensure your staff are not neglecting or misusing PPE.

Once your staff are familiar with the use, storage, and maintenance of your PPE, it's vital that you or your competent person monitors the use of equipment to ensure its correctly utilised. Doing so will make sure that equipment isn't damaged or lost.

If you detect any problems with PPE use, storage, or maintenance, find out why it's happening and take steps to remedy the situation.

Storing and maintaining PPE is a vital part of your ongoing workplace safety measures and, by making these five considerations, you should be able to keep your equipment in good condition.

It's worth remembering that the advice in this article is intended as a guide and you should always consider advice from the Health & Safety Executive first and foremost.