How Often Should You Check or Change Your PPE Equipment?


Pre-COVID, neither the average person nor most organisations gave personal protective equipment (PPE) equipment more than a fleeting thought.

Unless your organisation operated in an industry where PPE was necessary for day-to-day work, it was rare to stock PPE equipment.


Corona changed all that – many organisations suddenly found themselves needing a regular supply of PPE to comply with health and safety control measures. According to some estimates, the pandemic put the PPE industry on a 7% compound annual growth rate with a projected market size of $92.68 billion by 2027.

PPEs provide head and scalp protection, respiratory protection, eye protection, hearing protection, hand and arm protection, foot and leg protection, and body protection.

In addition to complying with the legal requirements, organisations and individuals have taken proactive infection control measures and invested in PPE equipment. For such organisations and individuals, knowing how to check or change PPE equipment is a primary concern.


There are no laws or regulations that state the life expectancy of any PPE. The general guidelines are to follow the manufacturer's specifications. In most jurisdictions, manufacturers are required to provide obsolescence guidelines of the PPE, including its components.

The obsolescence date is the period following usage that the equipment no longer offers any level of protection and is unfit for purpose.

Health and safety authorities often mandate that manufacturers provide all the information necessary so that a user can reasonably determine the period to obsolescence.

Most PPE equipment comes with information to help users identify whether it has reached the end of its useful life, expiry date or a maximum service time. For example, most face masks are disposable and intended for single use only, while a respirator mask is indicated for use up to five times with proper storage after each use.

Maintenance, Testing and Inspection

PPE equipment must be checked regularly by competent staff and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Regular testing and maintenance reveal instances where the manufacturer's recommendation is to replace the PPE. Evidence of wear and tear such as tears in clothing, broken fasteners, loose seams, and heavy soiling are all indicators that it is time to replace your PPE.

Reusable PPE equipment must be cleaned and stored as recommended.

To ensure you never miss an inspection, it is a good idea to make a note in a digital calendar so that you get constant reminders.

In an organisation, it is also critical to train all staff that wear PPE on proper maintenance, including when to check and change their equipment.

Below are general (common-sense) guidelines for how often to check or change various PPE equipment types.

Respiratory Protection

Due to the pandemic, these are probably the best-known PPEs. Respiratory protective PPEs are worn over the mouth and nose and protect from airborne pathogens and air pollutants such as smoke and other hazardous gases. Examples include cloth masks, surgical masks, respirator masks, and gas masks.

Cloth masks are reusable after proper washing, disinfection and drying. Surgical masks should be used once and disposed of. Respirator masks can be used up to five times, while workers should use gas masks strictly following manufacturer specifications.


Head and Scalp Protection

PPE in this category includes helmets and any headgear that protects the user from accidental head bumps, flying or falling objects, climate or temperature, and chemical splashes or drips. PPE should be checked regularly and changed whenever straps or fasteners become loose or no longer work or evidence of cracks or other structural integrity loss.

Eye Protection

PPE in this category includes face shields, visors, safety goggles, spectacles, and face screens. These protect the eyes from gas and vapour, chemical or metal splash, projectiles, dust, and radiation. Replace where there is evidence of cracks. Too many scratches or crazing – a web of small cracks on anti-reflective coating – can compromise vision. Replace the PPE in such cases.

Hearing Protection

Earmuffs, earplugs, and semi-insert/canal caps protect users from high-decibel sounds. The general guidelines to replace hearing PPE is when the cushions are hard or damaged. They should also be kept clean and dry because dirt can cause skin irritation or an ear infection.

Hand and Arm Protection

Hand hygiene is a public health measure encouraged following the outbreak of COVID-19. Gloves, gauntlets and sleeving protect the hands and arms; replacement should be as per the manufacturer's instructions. Surgical hand gloves are generally meant for single use. Remove gloves by turning them inside out and then dispose of them safely.

Industrial gloves used by workers in factories should be replaced when there is evidence of wear and tear.

Body Protection

Bodysuits are standard in medical settings to protect frontline workers from pathogens such as COVID-19. Maintain and replace them following manufacturer specifications or when there is evidence of tears or other damage that compromises protection.

Foot and Leg protection

PPE in this category includes safety boots, penetration resistant shoes, and other industry-specific PPE footwear. Replacement should be according to the manufacturer's specifications or when there is evidence of wear and tear, such as worn soles that no longer offer anti-slip protection.

Where to Buy PPE Equipment

PPE is now a necessary part of everyday life. Unfortunately, gathering prices from competitors, making price and quality comparisons, and receiving the PPE when you need it is a daunting task for organisations. Most companies waste precious time on such an exercise and end up overpaying for PPE. They often also don't receive good quality PPE and run out of stock before the supplier makes the delivery.

Applegate solves this problem. We are a B2B platform and service that matches PPE buyers with suppliers. Applegate does all the heavy lifting for you. We have pre-qualified thousands of PPE suppliers using strict criteria and added them to our portal. Ordering PPE is a simple and straightforward three-step process:

Step 1: Complete an online form with details of the PPE you need.
Step 2: Our intelligent platform matches your request with suitable suppliers and automatically requests quotations.
Step 3: Quotes are sent directly to your email, or you can log into your dashboard to review them.

Once you find a quote you like, you are under no obligation to buy from the supplier – and the best thing is, it's all free! Yep, we don't charge buyers a penny for this service. What more could you ask for? If you are looking to stay safe post-lockdown, Applegate's suppliers can offer quality PPE solutions to keep yourself, your staff, and customers safe. Get in touch or get a quote today

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