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Your Guide to Personal Protective Equipment Inspections


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If your work involves any potential health or safety hazards as is found in the case of working at height, you will most likely be required to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If your company is required to use PPE then you will have a legal duty to complete inspections to ensure equipment is fit for purpose (under Regulation 12 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005).

What Is PPE?

PPE can be any appliance, which is made specifically to be held or worn by any person for the sake of protection against any health or safety hazard. For example, wearing safety goggles can protect your eyes from dust, radiation, chemical or metal splash while working. Even ear plugs, gloves, safety helmets and high-visibility clothing can be classified as personal protective equipment depending on their use. More complex examples of personal protective equipment are breathing apparatus and abseiling equipment. Some of these need to be disposed of after a single use such as single-use ear plugs. Others might be used for a longer term as in the case of safety goggles and shoes.

Is PPE Compulsory?

PPE is indeed compulsory according to UK law. Both the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 and Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 provide the key requirements on using PPE and so on. When it comes to inspections of personal protective equipment, for example, Regulation 12 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 explains in detail about PPE inspections that an employer should carry out.

What are the Different Kinds of PPE Inspections?

There are basically two types of PPE inspections. The first one requires that PPE be properly inspected by expert staff in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. The law makes it clear that a manufacturer of personal protective equipment has to provide the necessary instructions with the particular product. You can do basic inspection and maintenance if you have the necessary training and have been properly instructed. For example, you can clean your safety goggles or replace your safety helmet’s straps on your own. The second type requires that PPE be inspected by competent staff from the manufacturing company or supplier. This is normally applicable for high-risk situations or apparatus. For example, any personal protective equipment used by firemen falls under this category.

Maintenance and Replacement of Personal Protective Equipment

Maintenance of personal protective equipment varies based on use and type of equipment. For example, respiratory protective equipment or RPE needs a high degree of regular inspection and compulsory maintenance. But when it comes to gloves or safety shoes, you only need to perform inspection. Whether it is maintenance or inspection, it should be carried out based on the manufacturer’s or supplier’s instructions. Another aspect to be considered is the frequency of use. For maintenance, record-keeping of inspection carried out and other details is important, more so if there is a possibility of serious health or safety hazard. As of March, 2016, there is no Code of Practice that stated the life expectancy or any personal protective equipment. The current practice is to follow the manufacturer’s or supplier’s instructions. Some manufacturers do not state the expiry date on their products. Others may decide to provide information about how to determine the end of life or expiry of their products.

Inspection & Rope Access Specialists PPE Inspection Services

Proper inspection of PPE equipment is important to avoid your company potentially being sued. Inspection & Rope Access Specialists provide independent, professional, impartial inspections which can cover both equipment and the processes used for storing, inspecting, logging and maintaining equipment. We can help your business not only inspect PPE but also provide ways to help you comply with legislation.

To find out more or book our PPE Inspectors today please contact us.