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Knowing When to Replace Your Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is one essential piece in a wider effort to keep workers safe on industrial construction jobsites.

According to a University of Regina report, 904 workers died due to work-related causes in Canada in 2016, with 8,589 lost-time injuries occurring specifically in Saskatchewan.

Common pieces of PPE include protective gloves and eyewear, high visibility safety vests, steel toe boots or shoes, and hearing protection. Depending on the unique construction environment and risks, additional PPE such as fall protection, full face shields and respiratory equipment may be required.

Learn when to replace your personal protective equipment and tips for getting workers to wear PPE so you can avoid jobsite injuries and fatalities:

When to replace your PPE:

Like most material things, PPE doesn’t last forever. Wearing poorly preserved or malfunctioning PPE could be as dangerous as not wearing any form of protection at all.

There are a few telltale signs that your PPE needs to be replaced, including:

  • The expiration date indicated by the supplier has expired or is nearing expiration
  • Discolouration
  • Rips, tears, holes, or obvious visible damage

Be sure to come up with an annual plan to inspect your crew’s PPE to ensure all of the wear is up-to-date and in good condition.

Knowing when to replace fall protection equipment:

Fall protection equipment differs from other types of PPE in that it requires regular inspections mandated by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, “Every piece of fall arrest equipment should be inspected and certified at least yearly by a trained and competent person with written records of inspection and approvals to be kept.”

Fall protection equipment is to be used when workers have the potential to fall 3 metres (10 feet). These instances can include the following situations or involve the following equipment:

  • Stepladders
  • Working above an open top tank, bin, hopper, vat, or other open hole surface
  • Forklift platforms
  • Roof work
  • Elevated work platforms
  • Fixed suspended work platforms
  • Swing staging
  • Aerial devices
  • Suspended equipment
  • Personnel carrying equipment (e.g., personnel lifting units raised by cranes or hoists)

Tips for making the most of your PPE:

Just like any type of material goods, not all personal protective wear is the same. Here are some tips for making the most out of your PPE:

  • Always buy authentic PPE; never pose risks by justifying cost-savings for inauthentic wear which may be counterfeit
  • Train workers so they understand the proper fit and use
  • Always properly store PPE (for example, away from the sun and other hazards which can compromise the integrity)

In addition to the above tips, other measures to maximize your workers’ protection from hazards include:

  • Never wear open-toed footwear onsite
  • Wear long pants and tops to avoid overexposure to the sun, or chemicals
  • If your eyesight isn’t 20/20, ensure you wear prescription eyewear in your current prescription

Tips for ensuring workers wear PPE with 100% compliance:

Unfortunately, every year, completely preventable deaths or serious injuries occur from workers not wearing PPE/using it properly.

Here are some tips to encourage workers to wear PPE with 100% compliance:

  • Lead by example – always wear proper PPE, even if you’re only on site for a short time
  • Adopt safety as one of your core values
  • Choose comfortable gear when possible – unfortunately, uncomfortable gear is citied as a top reason why workers don’t wear PPE – for example, choose gloves that have an outer protective layer and a comfortable inner lining material like a soft nylon layer. Choose a high-visibility vest designed with airflow in mind and a cooling layer for outdoor workers
  • Create a culture of accountability where workers feel comfortable with keeping one another accountable for wearing proper PPE when needed and enforce policies when necessary
  • Always have plenty of PPE readily and conveniently available to your workforce
  • Post clear signage indicating what kind of PPE needs to be worn at each site location
  • Debunk common myths about PPE that aren’t true

Common PPE myths:

Unfounded myths about personal protective wear can create resistance in workers using PPE compliantly. Here are three common myths when it comes to PPE, and why they aren’t true:

Myth 1: This job will only take a few minutes,

Truth: There’s no minimum amount of time for injuries; they can happen in a matter of moments.

Myth 2: If my team doesn’t want to wear PPE, I can’t make them

Truth: When PPE is mandated by the employer through an occupational health and safety policy, workers must comply or face repercussions set by the employer.

Myth 3: Gloves are slippery and will prevent me from grasping objects

Truth: Many modern glovewear now has textured surfaces on the fingertips specifically designed to overcome this problem.

Although workplace accidents are not 100% preventable, by wearing proper personal protective equipment correctly every time, workers can successfully avoid many types of injuries from adverse safety incidents on industrial construction jobsites.


Axiom Equipment Group’s team has decades of combined experience in equipment rental, sales and service. Working with other internationally accredited organizations, we have the unique ability to provide on-demand products for sale and rent. With our large fleet of new, reliable, well-maintained site equipment, we can meet large project demands quickly and supply quality equipment for smaller projects cost-effectively.

At Axiom Equipment Group, we believe in ZERO DOWNTIME so much that we stand behind it with a unique iron clad promise that combines a reliable equipment fleet with a rapid response program, around-the-clock availability, expert service and a financing option to fit every budget. Gain peace of mind knowing that if your equipment breaks down, we have the inventory to repair and replace it on the fly!

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