When we talk about expenses in the world of safety, it's important to note that the cost of not using safety equipment (which includes insurance claims, fines, worker's compensation, retraining and downtime) will always outweigh the cost of the actual equipment. Most companies realize this, and you'd be hard pressed to find an operation with no personal protective equipment (or PPE) at all. But when is it time to look a little closer at the role equipment plays in workplace health and safety? Here are four signs that you need to rethink your investment.

1) You're Taking Unnecessary Legal Risks

Every industry has regulations and reasonable best practices. It makes sense to be sure you're following all the rules. As we mentioned in an earlier post, OSHA's fines have gone up exponentially this year. This means that penalties for safety violations are now steeper than ever before.

Take a close look at your insurance policies' fine print, as well. Is your company performing all its due diligence? Does your coverage rely on safety equipment that has a stated expiration date? If so letting things slide could be a costly mistake, paid for in denied claims later on.

2) You've got Recurring Accidents of a Particular Type

Once you've squared away all the requirements, it's time to look at the most important reason for safety equipment: accident prevention. Chances are, you're doing what you can to reduce injuries in the workplace with a combination of training, developing a safety culture and enforcing policies.

But what if accidents are still happening? It's time to look at the most common workplace injuries at your organization and analyze their cause. Are your employees reporting a lot of repetitive motion strain? Can this be tackled with better equipment? Are cuts a major problem? What innovations in safety cutting tools can reduce workplace hazards?

3) Your Work Safety Equipment is Costing too Much

At one time or another, every company needs to look for efficiencies and safety departments are not immune to this budget pressure. Start with your existing safety equipment's durability. It's worth the time it takes to track how often your PPE is replaced. Once you have a baseline, you can experiment with other versions of your PPE to find the most durable option. Run the numbers and see how much money you can save over time.

Some forms of safety equipment can offset the cost of others. Safety knives, for example, often negate the need for expensive protective gloves.

4) Personal Safety Equipment: Your Staff Just Won't Use It

The best equipment in the world is useless if your employees won't adopt it. There could be many reasons for their reluctance so put on your detective hat and investigate. Is there a training issue? If your employees don't use their safety equipment as it's designed to be used, it might make tasks awkward or render the equipment ineffective. Is the PPE uncomfortable? Try out other styles or brands to see if that solves the problem. Any reputable safety equipment manufacturer will gladly send you samples. In return for your time investment, you might just save a life.