Protecting Your Protection – Five Key Tips for Taking Care of Kit

One of the key tricks for maintaining the lifecycle of a product which you’ve purchased lies in your ability to look after it. The same basic principle applies to all things – vehicles, children (not that they are purchased), animals, outdoor living spaces, houses and appliances.

Often, the pleasure which comes with new items can be quickly reduced once the item becomes worn, tired and over-used. Feel sorry for your PPE when this happens, as safety and workwear is usually at the forefront of tough jobs, bearing the brunt of stress, risk and exposure to keep you safe.

Imagine if your PPE was like a new car, and to prevent injury to yourself you used the car as a large metal buffer between you and any potential risks. Within minutes the car would lose its integrity and structure, and be assigned to the scrap heap within the hour! Luckily, PPE is manufactured to strict standards for durability and length of lifecycle, but your poor kit usually takes a hammering over the course of a working day.

Just as with any other product, the good news is that you can genuinely prevent a large amount of product degeneration, simple by giving your kit the attention it needs at the end of a long shift. Just as your team need time out to kick back and recover after a gruelling work day, so their PPE and workwear needs a bit of TLC to ensure it accompanies your team on the next shift in great spirits!

As a result, we’ve pulled together some of the key ways you can keep your PPE and workwear performing at peak, extending its lifecycle and integrity even in the most challenging of on-the-job beatings….

  • Follow the recommendations

It may seem too obvious to state, but PPE and workwear should always come with clear instructions on how to care for it. We stick to these in other areas of our life such as feeding pets the correct food or not putting petrol in a diesel car, but often safety kit can be neglected simply through misunderstanding what it needs for a long and useful life.

Manufacturers (and the SMI Procurement team) spend significant time testing and assessing their products, to identify the very best approach to optimising them once they’re in use. While it may be tempting to ignore washing instructions for the sake of speed, or neglect the basic instructions for storage, the recommended approach is there to help your PPE be the best that it can be.

  • Give it some attention

Your PPE and workwear can become like a sulky child if it doesn’t get attention. By this, we mean offering your kit the basics such as cleaning it after each use, drying it off when it gets wet on the job, and airing it out. Items such as safety work boots can degrade quickly if they are caked with months of grime, which may include chemicals from spills and suchlike which affect the durability of leather or gradually erode the sole. View your PPE and workwear as a partner on the job, and thank it for its service by setting aside a few minutes after each shift to check it’s clean, dry and stored well. In return, you’ll benefit from longer lifecycles and more comfortable, durable products.

  • Feed it sometimes

Just as with a living companion, your PPE and workwear likes nourishment. Whether this is through ‘feeding’ leather products with a good-quality cream, re-spraying waterproof products with a moisture barrier, or giving your uniform a boost with fabric conditioner, you can make your kit happy through sustenance. Nourished leather lasts longer, looks better and is more comfortable, for example. Your PPE doesn’t ask for much, but when you provide it, it will be happier!

  • Give it Time Out

Continuing the sulky child analogy, it’s perfectly appropriate to give your PPE a Time Out when it’s got into trouble on the job. This may be through inclement weather conditions working outside, being exposed to excess mud, moisture or spilled materials, or other circumstances that mean your PPE needs some down time to recover. It’s a great idea to cycle between different kit, to enable you or your team to air items out fully, dry out after a wet day and breathe for a while before being put back into service. It may seem illogical, but cycling two items often affords more than double the durability and lifespan of each, in comparison to using one set of kit continuously.

  • Ask it how it’s feeling

OK, let’s keep the sulky child analogy just a little longer (after all, the Easter holidays have hit, so it’s pertinent to many this week!). When a child is upset, they need the opportunity to express their feelings so parents can make things better.

PPE is just the same. It needs the chance to tell you when it’s unwell. Make your kit let you know of any issues, by inspecting it before you wear/use it each day. A quick check every time will reveal potential issues such as wear and tear, compromised durability, frayed straps, nicks or erosion. Spotting signs of ill-health promptly will give you the opportunity to give your PPE some TLC, which can often mean items can be repaired to extend their life and maintain their fitness for purpose.

As ever with your PPE and workwear, remember that your kit is the front-line barrier between you and potential safety risks. Tell it you care by following the steps above, and it will thank you through increased lifespan, better performance and an overall reduction in your annual spend!

If you’d like any further information on how to give your PPE the lifestyle it deserves, get in touch with one of the friendly team at SMI and we’ll help!