What Does PPE Stand For?
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential for those working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In general, PPE protects wearers from environmental hazards that could cause injury or illness. These hazards include physical, chemical, radiological, electrical, mechanical, and biological damage. During the current coronavirus pandemic, wearing PPE significantly reduces the chance of being exposed to or spreading germs by creating a barrier between yourself and possible infectious diseases. We offer complete PPE Training Kits here at National Safety Compliance.
2020 has Seen an Unprecedented Increase in PPE Usage
While the use of PPE in all workplaces across the world is certainly spiking, PPE is nothing new for most health care workers. In the past, all hospital staff members and visitors have been required to use PPE in instances where there is potential for contact with blood or bodily fluids. Now, PPE is required around the clock in hospitals as well as other businesses and facilities across the nation to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
For PPE to work effectively, employers must properly train their workers on how to use PPE efficiently. If PPE is something only used rarely, employees should still practice regularly putting on, properly wearing, and taking off their personal protective equipment. This proper training is a must, and employees should be refreshed on these topics on a regular basis.
With the addition of new businesses needing to implement requirements for PPE, there are also many different types of PPE to meet the needs of each industry. These can range depending on your line of business. For example, the PPE that a hospital utilizes will be much different than the PPE used in a restaurant. The different forms of PPE can include;
- Masks and Respirators: These should always cover both your mouth and nose to prevent the inhalation of germs, chemicals, and physical contaminants. Masks also play an important part in stopping asymptomatic employees from spreading disease.
- Eye protection: Some masks come with a clear plastic piece to cover your eyes, other forms of eye protection can include face shields and goggles. These are important in some settings because of how easily germs and other particles can enter through or damage one’s eyes.
- Gloves: Wearing gloves protects your hands by creating a physical barrier. It’s important to avoid touching the body or face while wearing protective gloves, and regularly change them after any possible contamination.
- Clothing: This includes much of what you would picture a surgeon wearing; gowns, aprons, head covering, and shoe covers and while they are often used during surgeries, they can also be used to visit someone who is in isolation or to keep dangerous liquids from touching your skin. Clothing can also be used in other industries outside of the medical field like chemical protective suits for cleaning, reflective vests for outdoor night workers, and lead aprons for radiological workers.
Depending on your local and state mandates, you as an employer can control how often employees are required to wear PPE in certain situations. This can depend on your risk of being severely impacted by COVID-19, but regardless of these requirements, healthcare workers always need PPE when caring for others in isolation. PPE is also essential for confirmed patients to prevent the spread of the disease to others and for healthcare workers to avoid getting the disease themselves. Informational posters can help improve PPE compliance among employees.
Properly Using PPE
Simply wearing PPE is not enough. In order to properly protect yourself and those around you, you must also put on, remove and dispose of PPE safely. Different facilities and industries will have different procedures for properly completing each of these steps so follow these simple guidelines and practice your workplace guidelines.
- Sanitize and Inspect: To properly don PPE, you will want to sanitize your hands before touching any of the equipment and then ensure that the size is correct. If your mask, gown, or gloves do not fit they will not work effectively.
- Put Your PPE on in the Proper Order: You can then put on your mask by hooking them appropriately to your ears so that it covers both your nose and mouth. Following this, you can tie your gown, put on a face shield or goggles and then your gloves. Once you have all of your PPE properly in place you can then enter into the infected area.
- Remove Some PPE Before Leaving the Contaminated Area: Before leaving you should remove the PPE by first starting with your gloves. These should be carefully removed to avoid contaminating your hands by placing one glove in the other one. Then remove your gown by carefully untying it and avoiding any forceful movements. Place these items in the proper disinfection or disposal area.
- Remove Remaining PPE and Sanitize After Leaving: you can then leave the area, use hand sanitizer immediately and then remove your face shield or goggles by gently pulling them away from your face without touching your eyes. To remove your mask, you should carefully untie it and avoid touching the front before using hand sanitizer once more.
- Disinfect or Dispose of Remaining PPE: If you are reusing any of these materials it is important that you clean and disinfect them, as well as any other materials they touched, before using them again. If not, you should place them directly in the trash bin.
Regulations on Supply
The need for PPE has greatly increased due to the pandemic and has caused many shortages. This has created a surge capacity that is challenging the U.S. healthcare system’s ability to identify alternative methods of patient care.
In response, the CDC is working to optimize the use of PPE by helping facilities understand their PPE inventory, supply chain, and utilization rate. It is also vital that facilities communicate with local healthcare to identify supplies and implement conventional capacity measures.
This communication should take place across the nation between state and local departments and partners to develop how to implement strategies that can extend PPE supplies and to properly train on PPE use and optimization strategies so that all communities are educated on the use of PPE.
National Safety Compliance has the information you need to inform your employees and community members on how to utilize and optimize PPE so that you are safely using PPE and still have it when you need it the most. We offer PPE Training Programs on DVD, USB, or Digital Access in English and Spanish here on our OSHA Safety Training website. These training kits come with instructional videos, trainer’s guides, PowerPoint presentations, compliance guides, employee quizzes, completion certificates, and wallet cards. If you would rather your employees train via module, our online LMS version of or PPE Safety Training is also available in English and Spanish on Online OSHA Training.