All About Personal Protective Equipment:
Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes an array of supplies that healthcare facilities utilize to keep their employees and patients safe. These include eye protection (e.g., goggles, face shields), isolation gowns, facemasks, respirators (e.g., N95s, PAPRs), and gloves.
Because you may be wearing PPE for an extended period of time, make sure that you are well hydrated and use the restroom before putting on PPE. If you wear prescription eyeglasses, make sure that they are positioned securely on your face. Prescription eyeglasses alone do not suffice as eye protection.
When PPE is properly worn, removed, and discarded, it is effective in protecting both the person who wears it and those with whom that person comes into contact.
Types of Personal Protective Equipment:
Gloves: Protects your hands from microbes and minimizes the possible spreading of microbes.
Masks: Cover your mouth and nasal area. Some masks have a see-through plastic piece, which also covers your eyes (shield). A special respiratory mask (respirator) forms a tight seal around your nose and mouth. It can be useful to minimize the inhalation of smaller microbes, such as tuberculosis bacteria. Regarding the general public, masks are the essential protective equipment; the rest is reserved for medical personnel and employees that come in contact with potentially infected people.
Eye protection: This includes face shields as well as goggles. They can protect the mucous membranes of your eyes from bodily fluids. If the fluids make contact with the eyes, microbes within the fluid can enter the body through the mucous membranes.
Clothing: Includes gowns, aprons, head covering, and shoe covers.
Personal protective equipment in the context of COVID-19 is very important, especially for healthcare workers and first responders.
PPE Frequently Asked Questions:
According to the CDC, medical gloves are used to create a barrier between the wearer and the hands. However, no medical glove brand or type has been yet approved by the FDA against COVID-19. That is why medical and other gloves are only recommended in certain situations, like cleaning infected areas or when working with infected patients.
So far, only respiratory masks and face shields have been approved for reuse and extended use by the CDC and the WHO. Respiratory masks, like N95 or KN95, are approved for a reuse period of 5 days, after which the masks should be properly disposed of. This is only applicable if the masks are not damaged and are properly stored between each use. Face shields are also to be sanitized and cleaned after each use, and properly stored when not used. Other personal protective equipment pieces, like gloves or gowns, are not to be reused.
It is recommended that used PPE should be discarded into a Biohazard waste bag, according to the hospital policy. This applies to medical workers and healthcare providers. When it comes to the general public, personal protective equipment should be discarded in separate bags that are sealed and protected and disposed of in the general community waste locations.
Unless you’re a medical worker, a healthcare provider, or first responder, there is no need to wear every piece of personal protective equipment. The general public is advised to wear masks, wash their hands regularly, and respect social distancing measures and a part of protective measures. People who work with other people that might potentially infect them are required to wear a face shield and sometimes even gloves. Protective gowns and goggles are reserved for people who are directly exposed or in contact with infected patients.
If you’re using a face shield for protection at your workplace, you are required to clean it regularly, or after every use. You will do that as follows;
- Wipe the inside and the outside of the face shield with a clean cloth that was previously saturated with a neutral detergent. You can also use sanitizing wipes.
- Wipe the outside of the face shield with a clean cloth that was previously saturated with registered hospital disinfection solutions. There are registered hospital disinfecting wipes that you can use as well.
- Then, wipe the outside of the face shield with a clean damp cloth, or with alcohol.
- Let the face shield to air dry in a place where no one will touch it. After it dries, try to store it in a protected, breathable place.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and sanitize with hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.