The biggest driver of a hire/buy decision is usually the question of cost.
What should you always buy?
Buying certain types of equipment will generally make better financial sense. It makes sense to buy rather than hire basic items of Personal Protective Equipment, such as safety glasses and helmets, because they are comparatively low value and they’re universally applicable to most projects. Many companies also like to invest in branded PPE (high-vis vests for example) to meet their H&S obligations and to promote their brand simultaneously. Additionally, anything that will form a permanent fixture of your health and safety provision, such as COSHH compliant cabinets or scaffolding safety nets, can be purchased outright for a competitive price.
The case for hiring
However, when it comes to high quality or specialist equipment, hiring has advantages for a range of reasons. While buying would provide budgetary simplicity, purchasing such equipment can actually carry many hidden costs arising from depreciation, insurance, financing, delivery, maintenance and servicing. Statutory inspections, such as LOLER, also need to be factored in, plus hours wasted within procurement, accounts and finance departments.
When all the hidden costs are totalled up and then compared to A) how many days/weeks you’ll need the equipment for and B) what the rental rate is, hiring specialist equipment will often make financial sense.