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Updated 21 Jun 2018

4 Cost-effective (construction) safety tools you can buy second-hand

If your cashflow’s tight, you can still purchase safety equipment second-hand to reduce costs, while ensuring that all on-site personal are kept safe. 

Nicole Crampton, 17 April 2017  Share  0 comments  Print

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Working on a construction site can be challenging and you don’t want your employees to be in a position where they don’t have adequate safety equipment. But fences, harnesses, hard-hats and reflective gear costs can quickly add up when buying new.

Contractors are already cutting back on investment in equipment, and rely more on plant-hire and second-hand equipment, according to Subseries I - Impact on Manufacturing: Construction site equipment.

There is, however, some safety equipment that you can buy second-hand to reduce costs and still keep your workers safe. Second-hand equipment can be just as effective in certain circumstances as brand new equipment, and additionally they are also more cost-effective – allowing you to spend capital on performance enhancing technology or strategies instead. 

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“For numerous new projects, a substantial operating expense is the sourcing and supply of equipment,” says PWC’s SA construction report. The consultancy reveals that construction business owners are spending only a small portion of their capital on new equipment.

If you’d like to save some money, and manage your operational expenses a little better, here are a few examples of equipment that your construction business can buy second-hand, according to Dakota Safety:

1. Security gates and barriers

Even if pre-owned, security gates and barriers (fences) can still be effective. Because they are normally forged from steel, these items boast a long, durable lifespan. It’s important to check the structural integrity of the gates or barriers you’re interested in, though, to ensure it is still good to use, otherwise your cost-savings won’t be worthwhile and the safety gear won’t really protect your staff.

2. Guardrail protection

Guardrail -protection

You can use guardrail protection when workers are working on rooves, near a cliff or hazardous high-rise space. Despite the benefits of guardrails, logistically it may not be feasible to buy second-hand, as you may need custom guardrails to meet the requirements of your job site.

However, if you can find the right specification second-hand, guardrails will also be made from steel and offer long life-spans. If you buy the right, high-quality rails, use it and recycle it – you can also reduce your impact on the environment while saving some cash.

3. Mobile ladders

A number of mobile ladder brands have solid reputations for durable construction equipment that can last through several owners. Dakota Safety recommends that you save on your safety equipment investments by purchasing a used ladder wherever possible.

By saving on strong and stable safety equipment like must-have ladders, you can put your capital to work on more strategic avenues in the business – like upgrading your accounting or payroll software if it’s outdated.

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4. Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Since you, by law, must supply personal protective equipment for on-site employees, costs can quickly increase. However, buying these items pre-owned and in a sound condition can help you control costs and project expenditure. Every worker needs this equipment to safely navigate the construction site, which can cost a decent sum, depending on how big your team is.

According to Dan Shipp, president of the International Safety Equipment Association, you must be careful when buying second-hand PPE, though, as the equipment could have sustained a blow, but still look structurally sound.

“If, hard hats, for example have been exposed to an impact its strength may be compromised,” he says.

If you decide to buy safety equipment second-hand, you’ll need to develop a way to test its effectiveness before putting your workers lives at risk. But, in the long-term you will be able to save money instead of spending too much on new items.


  • Buy security gates, barriers and guardrails second-hand as these are made out of steel and have long life-spans.
  • Buy mobile ladders second-hand as it’s often designed to withstand multiple owners.
  • Purchase personal protective equipment second-hand if you can verify its condition and it won’t risk the lives of your workers.
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Nicole Crampton

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