Personal protective equipment (PPE) is specialized clothing or equipment worn by an employee for protection against infectious materials. For protecting staff, PPE is the last line of defense, not the first. PPE is point-of-contact control, and it does not eliminate the hazard. It reduces the likelihood of exposure to hazards.
PPE works as a barricade between an individual’s skin, mouth, nose, or eyes, and viral and bacterial infections. PPE, when appropriately utilized, minimizes the spread of disease from one person to another. PPE may include gloves, masks, respirators (N95 or FFP2), eye protection, gowns, aprons, and boots or closed-toe work shoes. The intent of PPE is for one-time use by one person only before disposal. The washing and reusing or sharing of PPE goes against recommendations.
Lead by Example
The best route to encourage your employees to use PPE is to lead by example. If you are not willing to use PPE, do not expect your staff to do the same. Put on the equipment and demonstrate the importance of safety.
Avoid just handing out PPE to employees and telling them to put it on. Explain to your team what they need to know to use each piece of equipment. Let them know the consequences of not using it, and emphasize the impact of PPE on safety and health.
How-to Put-on PPE
Proper training and use of PPE is essential. Although different institutions may have different methods of putting on and removing PPE, here is a typical method:
- Gather your PPE and make sure you have the correct gown size.
- Clean hands with hand sanitizer.
- Put on the isolation gown. Secure all of the ties on the gown and get assistance if you need it.
- Put on a NIOSH-approved N95 filtering facepiece respirator or higher. Use a facemask if a respirator is not available. Fit the mask to the nose with both hands. Do not wear the mask under your chin or store in scrub pockets.
- Put on face shield or goggles.
- Perform hand hygiene then put on gloves.
- Enter the patient’s room.
How to Take Off PPE
Remember that training and practice are essential. Here is a typical example:
- Remove gloves. Use the glove-in-glove technique or bird beak.
- Remove the gown and dispose of in a trash receptacle.
- Exit the patient’s room.
- Perform hand hygiene.
- Remove face shield or goggles.
- Remove and discard the respirator.
- Perform hand hygiene.
The current pandemic is putting PPE in the spotlight.
Make sure that you educate yourself and your team in the proper selection, use, and disposal of PPE. If you require staff members to complete your healthcare team, check out Power Personnel. The staffing professionals at Power Personnel can provide you with skilled employees who can make an immediate impact on your healthcare organization.