The importance of proper storage and inspection of equipment

by George Vlachos – Service Technician | STOP AEBE

The selection and purchase of the appropriate personal protective equipment for each use is key factor for the safety of every employee. While a lot of time is devoted to market research for the supply of equipment that meets the required specifications, often the necessary attention is not paid to its storage and inspection.

When bought, new equipment is in its best operational condition. With proper storage and regular inspection, it will remain in a very good condition for the rest of its life.

Let us first look at the equipment inspection part. An equipment in use, it is normal to show some signs of wear. This wear should be checked according to the manufacturer’s instructions, to determine if it remains within acceptable limits or is characterized as excessive. Each manufacturer specifies a period after which the equipment should be inspected to determine if it remains operational. Here we will examine the equipment that we inspect in the service department of Stop.

Equipment for work at height
In terms of work at height the equipment must be inspected according to the following schedule (unless otherwise instructed by the manufacturer):
• Safety Harnesses
• Fall arresters
• Energy absorbers
• Retractable fall arresters
• Ropes and straps
• Carabiners

This equipment must be inspected once a year by properly trained and certified technicians as well as before each use by the user himself.

Before each use, the user should check for the existence of a label with identification of the material where the date of production is marked. The manufacturer sets the maximum service life of the equipment, regardless of whether it has been used or not.

The user should then check for damage to:
• Belts
• Metal parts
• Plastic parts
• Seams
• Marking
• Falling indicator

If during the inspection, there is a lack of labeling or any damage to the parts mentioned above, the user should avoid using the equipment and send it for inspection.

Breathing apparatus
According to the manufacturer’s instructions, breathing apparatus as well as escape devices should be inspected annually after their purchase for any malfunction such as leakage. The user in this category of equipment should also check before each use its proper operation. In the event of malfunction, user should avoid the use of the device, and make sure that it is sent for inspection by properly trained and certified technicians.

Gas detectors
Special reference will be made for gas detectors. They are divided in two categories:
a. Those that are designed for a specific life span, are non-repairable and do not require any action by a technician
b. Those that are repairable.
Both types of detectors require to be checked by the user (optical + bump test) before each use. However, the repairable detectors should additionally be checked and calibrated (maximum) once / year (unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer) by certified technicians and sensors should be replace where required.

Storage of equipment
Storage of equipment also plays an important role in maintaining its proper operation. Humidity, constant exposure to the sun as well as constant exposure to weather conditions should be avoided. Storing the equipment in a protected environment with normal temperatures without vibrations will do its utmost to maintain it.

As far as gas detectors are concerned, what we have mentioned applies, as well as their maintenance in a toxic and explosive environment should be avoided as the sensors of the detectors can be affected and deviate from their measurements.

Each inspection should be recorded in an inspection and maintenance file.

Finally, we do not forget that it is very important to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and the legislation of the country in which we work.