hardhat, gloves, & ppe

Safety Equipment: Is It Safe to Buy Used?

Jan. 26, 2017
Have you ever considered buying used safety equipment? Some used safety equipment fulfills OSHA requirements and can protect your workers at a lower cost than buying new.

Safety equipment is a necessity for your employees and for your company. As an EHS professional or facility manager, you’re responsible for purchasing equipment to protect your employees from falls and other dangerous working situations. Additionally, you are responsible for providing services that keep your building free from hazards.

It’s important to remember that certain types of equipment are required for OSHA compliance, like providing personal protective equipment in some instances. Companies with workers in a variety of settings—like general contractors who work indoors with machinery and outdoors on roofs—may need to invest in several different types of equipment.

Purchasing new equipment can be expensive and can make it hard to stay within a set budget. So, what’s a small or medium-sized business to do in this situation?

One way you can solve the problem of expensive safety equipment is to purchase used items that still have some life in them. By doing this, you can save thousands of dollars on your investment. Solid used equipment still can fulfill OSHA safety requirements and protects your employees from hazards.

Here are some specific types of safety equipment that might make sense to buy secondhand:

Security Gates and Barriers

Security gates and barriers still can be in good condition, even if they’re bought pre-owned. Because these items are forged from strong metals (such as steel) and other materials, they have long lifespans, and assuming they’ve never seen any kind of damage, they’re an easy way to provide additional security to your place of business.

Having a security gate or barrier is helpful because it keeps your employees and your assets safe. Additionally, people who have no business being in your building are met with limited or no access. Your company also can benefit from additional protection against potential theft or burglary.

It’s important to be selective when you are looking at used metal gates and barriers. Be sure to choose one that has no structural damage. Cosmetic defacement and age scuffs aside, the gate or barrier should still be structurally sound and have a flawless track record.

Guardrail Protection

Guardrails increase the level of safety in your workplace significantly and generally are safe when purchased secondhand. They help keep your workers safe from falls (one of the deadliest hazards in any workplace) and when installed on roofs, are one of the best ways to meet the requirements for roof safety set by OSHA.

Despite these benefits, guardrails may not be feasible to buy used. Depending on your intended installation area, you may need rails that meet certain criteria or length requirements. Such specifications can be hard to find pre-made and may require a new purchase after all.

Personal Protective Equipment

You also might want to consider purchasing used personal protective equipment (PPE) for your employees. Many OSHA standards require employers to provide PPE for their employees. Buying pre-owned equipment in sound condition can help you control rising business costs.

Personal protective equipment that is acceptable to buy used includes items that can be easily sanitized and reused without suffering structural damage. Some PPE should be bought new, like protective footwear.

Some examples of PPE that are acceptable to purchase secondhand and reuse—once they're inspected for any wear & tear or damage and have been disinfected—are safety goggles, respirators, hard hats, personal floatation devices, heavy-duty protective gloves, and personal fall protection equipment (assuming the devices have never seen action).

In some instances, you may be lucky enough to find PPE advertised as “new,” “opened but never used” or even still in the original packaging, giving you an even better opportunity to purchase what you need at a competitive price.

Mobile Ladders

Many mobile ladders brands feature durable and strong construction that can last through several different owners. Instead of paying a high price for a new ladder, you can save on your investment by purchasing a used one.

There are several different types of safety ladders that help prevent accidents in a variety of settings, industrial or otherwise. When shopping for your used ladder, consider these variations:

  • Portable Access Ladders: These can be hidden away in smaller spaces and help keep workspaces uncluttered and organized.
  • Rolling Ladders: Rolling ladders come in a variety of sizes and can be used in larger, flat warehouses or floor spaces.
  • Custom Ladders: Some secondhand custom solutions may fit your needs. Even though a ladder wasn’t initially made or customized for your specific situation or facility, you may find a used custom option that still works for your business.

Bollards and Safety Columns

Purchasing used bollards and safety columns makes sense, as they are removable and made from solid materials. Buying used ones can help you not only save money, but repurposing columns helps reduce your carbon footprint.

Bollards and columns create a barrier between spaces where protection is needed. This means you can create a pedestrian walkway that is safe from potential hazards in an industrial workplace. It’s also possible to use bollards or columns to keep vehicles out of certain areas, like near the building’s exit or entrance or around heavy machinery.

Many warehouses use bollards and safety columns to prevent damage from forklifts and other vehicles; sometimes a busy floor full of employees, vehicles, and moving inventory is difficult to manage without some help.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes often struggle to keep up with the list of required safety equipment set forth by OSHA. For some, it may feel like the race to meet safety regulations is never-ending and impossible to win.

However, you can be OSHA-compliant, keep your employees safe and keep your work area hazard-free while staying within your budget. Purchasing some of your equipment used is one way to help meet many of your safety objectives while sticking to a budget.