All About Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as PPE, is equipment worn to minimize exposure to a variety of hazards.
Every person that stays in or visits a healthcare environment is at risk of acquiring an infection but for the healthcare worker, the risk is greater. Workers are more susceptible to contamination just by the nature of what they do; they’re exposed to blood, bodily fluids, respiratory secretions, and direct contact with other infectious materials.
Protection from infectious materials comes first from infection control plans provided within the workplace. After having a control plan, it’s imperative that staff employ the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
What exactly is PPE?
According to the FDA, PPE “…refers to protective clothing, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, facemasks and/or respirators or other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or the spread of infection or illness.”
Of course, PPE should not be relied on for sole protection. PPE should be used in combination with other preventative measures, such as safe working practices and adequate ventilation.
Types of PPE
It’s important to perform a work area assessment to determine the potential hazards and select the appropriate PPE for adequate protection.
Gloves provide a barrier against infection. Gloves do not prevent sharps injuries, but the reduce the risk of contact contamination. They are single use items and are worn for procedures, blood draws, when cleaning up a contaminated space, to name a few.
Eyewear in the form of goggles or visors protects against splatter and foreign bodies during procedures and cleanup.
Masks provide barrier protection against splatter and airborne particles that can contaminate the face.
Aprons or gowns offer protection when staff come in close contact with either a patient, materials, or equipment that may lead to contamination of skin, uniforms, or other clothing with infectious agents.
Not all PPE is for reuse. The FDA states that PPE is typically designed for one-time use, and therefore falls under medical waste removal, but not necessarily hazardous waste removal. It depends on whether the equipment in question has been soiled with infectious waste. Regardless, one-time use PPE should be disposed of after each procedure or activity to prevent cross-transmission of microorganisms. When these items are worn primarily to protect the wearer, the importance of their prompt removal between tasks or patients mitigates the spread of infection.
This, along with other compliance and safety topics are covered in MedXwaste’s online OSHA Compliance Training program.
With our training program, we can help your facility understand the importance of PPE, as well as infection control practices used to prevent transmission of diseases and other best practices.
Contact MedXwaste today.