PPE Product Life GuideEven the most heavy duty PPE has a shelf life, and that determination is based on a combination of factors, including the manufacturer’s recommendations, usage rates, work environment, and any contact with UV rays, chemicals, dirt, or sweat. PPE storage methods are also a critical factor, as products that are treated poorly or left exposed to the elements may have reduced lifespans.
Typically, disposable respirators have three-year expiration dates, after which time their ability to protect you becomes compromised. Look for the expiration date printed on the packaging, and store them inside the original package.
While most disposable respirators are intended for single use, some people do get a longer lifespan with light use (unless working near toxic chemicals). If you plan to use disposable respirators more than once, be sure to store properly and avoid contamination.
The maximum recommended use for N95 masks is 8–12 hours, but the overall shelf life is 5 years. This product life is only valid when stored in the original packing and in an indoor area with temperatures ranging from -4°F (-20°C) to +86°F (+30°C) and not exceeding 80% relative humidity. Once used, N95 masks should not be worn for multiple work shifts and should not be reused after extended use. In addition, N95 respirators should be removed and discarded before activities such as meals and restroom breaks.
While an exact shelf life is dependent on the specific glove material and that way in which the gloves are stored, disposable natural latex gloves typically last up to three years and disposable nitrile gloves last up to five years.
Although past most manufacturers’ warranties or guarantees, many disposable nitrile gloves have been known to last up to 10 years in storage without any obvious or significant damage. Keep in mind, however, that these shelf lives do not apply to gloves that are removed from the original packaging or have been exposed to moisture.
Most disposable gowns do not have a designated shelf life. If there is no date available on the gown label or packaging, contact the manufacturer for guidance.
Disposable Face Shields
Disposable shields do not have a specific shelf life and may be used as long as they maintain their shape and remain intact. To clean your shield, we recommend utilizing the following types of disinfection products:
- Antibacterial Spray
- Disinfectant Wipes
- Bleach Wipes
- Germicidal Wipes
Typically, hard hats should be replaced within five years of the manufacture date, even if never used. This is because hard hats are made from plastic that degrades over time, even if stored in ideal conditions.