Keeping Yourself Hazard ProofWe wear PPE (personal protective equipment) or safety gear for a variety of purposes: to protect our eyes, ears, face, nose, hands, and just about any other vulnerable body part. When you're surrounded by chemicals, particles, fire, and other hazardous substances regularly, it's crucial to keep your protective material at its highest performance. Taking care of your safety gear will make it last longer, but inevitably, it will become worn out or ineffective with constant usage.
When it's time, it's time.
Different PPE lasts longer than others and we've come up with a guideline for you to refer to when questioning whether it's time to replace those scratched up safety glasses that you've had for four years. Of course, the most accurate way to know when it's time to kick that face shield to the curb or keep using it is to check manufacturer specifications. Each manufacturers' products are different even if they look the same, and it's important to not treat them too alike. Anyways, let's get started...
Respirator Filters and Cartridges
A respirator filter or cartridge should be replaced when it looks filthy and is damaged or worn out. Other signs it's time (that are not visible) are when it becomes hard to breathe while using the respirator, or the wearer starts to smell fumes and even taste them. These signs should never be ignored and should even be prevented by changing the filter or cartridge regularly.
Different types of filters and cartridges have different purposes. Some are for acid gas, vapor, multi-purpose, chemical, particulate,etc. These differences mean that they won't all last the same amount of time and the schedule for replacement should be based on: the type of filter, how often it is used, average wear out time, and the suggested replacement time by the manufacturer. With this information you can create a replacement schedule where it is changed every X amount of hours or days.
Ear Plugs and Muffs
Ear protection, such as ear plugs, banded ear plugs, and ear muffs, is important because damage in our ears can accumulate and cause partial and sometimes full deafness. Ear protection needs to be changed for two reasons: effectiveness and hygiene.
When it comes to reusable ear plugs (loose or banded), you should discard them when they appear dirty, damaged, deformed, or have become hard. Reusable ear plugs can be washed, so you can attempt to wash ear plugs that are just dirty, but if the dirt does not come off, discard them. In general, reusable ear plugs can be used for around three weeks before needing to be replaced.
One-time-use ear plugs should only be worn once and thrown away.
Earmuffs are made of a more durable material than ear plugs so they will last much longer and do not need to be fully replaced unless the ear cup or head piece is cracked or deformed. You should regularly inspect the ear cups and ear cushions for cracks and leaks. If needed, you can replace the ear cushions. On average, earmuffs can be worn for 3-8 months depending on frequency of wear,
Glasses and Goggles
Glasses and goggles are the easiest protective product to determine when to replace. The point of eye protection is to protect your eyes while still letting you clearly see what's in front of you. If you find them scratched or scuffed, effecting your vision, you are working unsafely. This calls for a replacement.
Other signs to replace protective eye wear are: cracks/chips on the lens and the frame is damaged or deformed. With some manufacturers of glasses and goggles, you can just replace the pieces that are no longer up to standard.
Visors and Faceshields
Photo from http://www.honeywellsafety.com
Faceshields and visors protect the face from any chemicals and are great for tasks that involve sparks and other projectile particles hitting your face. Like protect eyewear, this should be replaced when your vision is distorted, the face shield/visor is deformed or does not fit properly (uncomfortable, too loose, one side doesn't stay even with the other, etc.), and when the shield is damaged (cracked or bent).
If you have any questions regarding PPE, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org where our safety expert will gladly answer any questions or concerns you have about safety or safety products.