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When to Wear PPE

Personalized Protection Equipment (PPE) is specialized clothing or equipment worn by an employee for protection against hazards that remain after engineering controls and work practice controls are in place. PPE is not the first line of defense! Legally, the employer must provide PPE, ensure that the employee uses and must clean, repair, and replace this equipment as needed. You as the employee have the right to have PPE available to complete your job duties.


PPE includes gloves, gowns, laboratory coats, face shields or masks, eye protection, resuscitation masks, and other protective gear such as hats and booties. It may also include full protection suits, as were used for the Ebola patients. It must be readily accessible to employees and available in appropriate sizes. The hospital infection control process often determines the isolation requirements for patents including contact, droplet, and airborne and will require nurses and visitors to follow the protocol for each type of isolation.

The worker often must decide on their own when to wear PPE because exposure is likely. If exposure seems reasonably likely, you have the right to protect yourself with PPE.

An easy guideline to use is

If it is wet and not yours, stay out of it!

Gloves shall be worn when:

  • It can reasonably be anticipated that the employee may have hand contact with blood, OPIM, mucous membranes and non-intact skin
  • Performing all vascular access procedures or procedures involving uncontained blood, such as finger or heel sticks
  • Gloves must be changed between patients (CDC, 2013)

Single use gloves cannot be washed or decontaminated for reuse. Utility gloves worn by engineering or housekeeping may be decontaminated if they are not compromised. They should be replaced when they show signs of cracking, peeling, tearing, puncturing, or deteriorating.

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Traditionally, latex gloves are used to avoid contact with blood or OPIM. However, some workers are allergic to latex or vinyl. In most circumstances, nitrile or other glove alternatives may be used in place of latex gloves. Employers are required to provide non-latex alternatives to employees with sensitivities to latex and other materials. Sterile or nonsterile gloves are also available as PPE and dictated by the procedure.

Do’s and Don’ts of Glove Use
Do Don’t
Work from clean to dirty Touch your face
Limit opportunities for touch contamination Adjust the PPE with a contaminated glove
Double glove if changing a very soiled bed/bowel movement Touch environmental surfaces except as necessary during patient care
Change gloves if torn, heavily soiled and between patients Wash or reuse gloves

Employees should wear eye and mouth protection such as goggles and masks, glasses with solid side shields, and masks or face shields when splashes, sprays, splatters, or droplets of blood or OPIM pose a hazard to eyes, nose, or mouth.

Gowns, aprons, surgical caps and hoods, shoe covers, or boots are needed when splash, spray, or gross contamination is expected. This may occur, for example, during labor and delivery, surgery and procedures with anticipated blood splash may occur.

Employers must provide the PPE and ensure that their workers wear it. This means that if a lab coat is considered PPE, it must be supplied by the employer rather than the employee. The employer also must clean or launder clothing and equipment and repair or replace it as necessary. This includes, but is not limited to dentistry, phlebotomy or processing of any body fluid specimen, and postmortem procedures.

Personal protective clothing and equipment must be appropriate for the level of protection needed for the expected exposure. For example, gloves would be sufficient for a laboratory technician who is drawing blood, whereas a pathologist conducting an autopsy would need considerably more protective clothing. Personal protective equipment may be required during the care of any patient, so it must be routinely available in patient-care areas, not just on isolation carts. You may need to wear a mask and eye protection during the care of a patient on Standard or Universal Precautions. Availability of PPE is required by the OSHA Standard. If you are not sure where to obtain it, ask your employer.

What PPE to Wear

Knowing what to wear for each different type of isolation is important for your protection. Factors influencing PPE selection include the fit, the type of exposure anticipated, durability, and appropriateness for the task.

Airborne Contact Droplet
Gloves Gloves Gloves
Gown Gown Gown
N95 Respirator Goggle/Face shield if splash anticipated, but not needed for standard contact isolation Goggles/Face shield
What PPE would you wear for these patient encounters?
Encounter Type of PPE
Giving a bed bath? generally none
Suctioning oral secretions? gloves and mask/goggles or a face shield
Transporting a patient in a wheelchair? generally none
Responding to an emergency where blood is spurting? gloves, fluid-resistant gown, mask/goggles or a face shield
Drawing blood from a vein? gloves
Cleaning an incontinent patient with diarrhea? gloves and generally a gown
Irrigating a wound? gloves, gown, and mask/goggles or a face shield
Taking vital signs? generally none


The employer shall ensure that the employee uses appropriate PPE unless the employer shows that the employee temporarily and briefly declined to use PPE when, under rare and extraordinary circumstances, it was the employee’s professional judgment that in the specific instance its use would have prevented the delivery of healthcare or public safety services or would have posed an increased hazard to the safety of the worker or co-worker.

When the employee makes this judgment, the circumstances shall be investigated and documented in order to determine whether changes can be instituted to prevent such occurrences in the future. In other words, if using PPE would increase danger to the person receiving care or to the worker, then the worker may decline to use the PPE, but situations like this must be reported and investigated, and are rare.

Decontaminating and Disposing of PPE

Employees must remove personal protective clothing and equipment before leaving the work area or when the PPE becomes contaminated. If a garment is penetrated, workers must remove it immediately or as soon as feasible. Used protective clothing and equipment must be placed in designated containers for storage, decontamination, or disposal.

While use of PPE cannot prevent all exposures, wearing it properly and when needed can greatly reduce potential exposure to all bloodborne pathogens. The sequence for removing PPE is:

PPE Kit: Types & Uses Of Personal Protective Equipment To Prevent COVID-19

The past year has witnessed a colossal surge of COVID-19 cases all over the world and donning basic shields of face masks has become the new norm nowadays when stepping out for work or travel. However, the healthcare community across the globe, who have been toiling day and night to treat infected patients, are at a significantly higher risk of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 viral strain and falling sick with coronavirus disease. Thus, they certainly require enhanced safeguarding gear in the form of a PPE kit. Moreover, even common people, in particular situations such as caring for corona positive family members in hospitals or having to travel for long distances by bus, train, flight need to cover themselves in PPE to stay safe from COVID-19.

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What Is PPE?
PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and in the medical and hospital industry, comprises advanced outfits and equipment worn by workers to ensure their security, welfare against infectious diseases. Consisting of head covers, hand gloves, full-length gowns, shoes, eye protectors, specialised masks and respirators, PPE kits help healthcare employees avoid coming in direct contact with microbial pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, besides contaminated body fluids like blood.

Moreover, PPE kits are not made exclusively only for healthcare personnel but are manufactured for several purposes. This is primarily to protect workers in all professions from occupational health hazards and avert injuries from perilous physical, chemical, heat/inflammable and electrical materials, besides pollutants, biohazards and airborne particulate matter. People in jobs such as chemical plant operators, mining industry workers, waste collection and disposal sectors, construction units, burial ground labourers etc. are examples of non-healthcare activities wherein PPE kits are necessary.

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Types Of PPE:
In the healthcare environment and other high-risk professions, all organs of the workers, such as the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, face, head, hair, neck, body, hands and feet are constantly exposed to detrimental substances and pathogens. Hence, distinct types of PPE are manufactured, to shield the employees completely and reduce the risk of confronting any injuries or hazards. These comprise:

  • Eye Protection of safety glasses, impact goggles
  • Respiratory Protection consisting of surgical masks, respirators
  • Face Protection with face shields
  • Head Protection with helmets, hard hats
  • Hand Protection with gloves, wrist cuffs
  • Body Protection of gowns, full-body suits
  • Hearing Protection with ear plugs, noise bands, acoustic foams
  • Foot Protection with safety boots, concealed shoes
  • Height And Access Protection of body harnesses, fall-arrest systems

Guidelines On Uses Of PPE Or Personal Protective Equipment In Curbing The Spread Of COVID-19:
Since COVID-19 is fundamentally an infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract that is transmitted by SARS-CoV-2 virus particles passed on from a sick to a healthy person, PPE kits offer umpteen benefits in shielding healthcare personnel from coronavirus.

Official guidelines regarding the proper use of PPE kits to stop the spread of COVID-19 among healthcare workers have been enlisted by key global associations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and The United States Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC). Even the central health organisation in India, the Ministry Of Health And Family Welfare (MoHFW) details the appropriate uses of PPE kits to effectively halt COVID-19 disease transmission. These include:

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  • Face shields and goggles with flexible frames that entirely seal the skin and the eyes
  • Masks of specific type – triple layer medical mask and an N-95 respirator mask to avoid the passage of viral particles via nasal tract
  • Hand gloves of good quality and nitrile or latex material
  • Coveralls and gowns to protect the body when handling COVID positive patients
    Shoes made from impermeable material to completely cover the feet and prevent exposure to contaminants
  • Head covers to conceal hair and head of healthcare workers from coming in direct contact with viral particles

Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that COVID-appropriate behaviour of frequent hand sanitizing and maintaining social distancing of at least 1 – 2 meters from infected patients must be adhered to by workers wherever possible even in a healthcare setting, to prevent acquiring COVID-19.

4 Reasons It’s Important You Use PPE in the Workplace

Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, protects its user against any physical damage or hazards that the work environment may present. It is important because it exists as a preventative measure for industries that are known to be more dangerous, such as manufacturing and mining.

It is important to know that the safety equipment provided at work must comply with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulation and that it is most effective when it complies with the correct size, fit and height of its user.

You may be used to finding yourself in precarious situations at work, but you should never feel that your physical self is likely to be harmed. Here are 4 reasons why it is important to wear PPE in the workplace.

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1. Prevent yourself from being responsible for your own injuries.
A common obstacle that workers’ compensation attorneys regularly face is a person’s decision not to wear PPE, regardless of the fact that their employer provided it to them. This often makes liability for a workplace injury or illness more of a gray area.

It varies from case to case, but faithfully wearing all the PPE provided to you on the job is the best way to ensure that in the event of an injury or illness directly, your employer will take full responsibility. Even for jobs that “only take a few minutes”, you should never allow exemptions from wearing PPE.

Being found partially liable in a court of law for your own workplace illness or injury from not wearing PPE is the worst case scenario. As an employee, you must be fully informed about what equipment is required, what tasks, and what to protect. If this is not the case, you should not be afraid to contact a manager or your human resources department.

2. Long-term conditions can result from not protecting yourself.
Feeling good at the end of your shift is not due to the fact that you have adequately protected your body. Exposure to different chemicals and compounds at work can have long-term effects on your body, mesothelioma being a great example. In 2017, an estimated 3,000 Americans were diagnosed with this rare form of cancer each year.

Between 70 and 80% of these diagnoses were due to exposure to asbestos fibers used in building materials in many different industries. Current safety regulations require those who work with asbestos to wear specific personal protective equipment and to shower and change before leaving the workplace. But before modern regulation, there was no connection between asbestos exposure and cancer diagnosis.

Therefore, many of these daily cases of mesothelioma were caused before we knew so much about this disease. Workers must take advantage of medical knowledge about risk factors that we have today and use PPE to safeguard their health and well-being, both now and in the future.

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3. You only have one pair of eyes.
Safety glasses are probably one of the most common (and effective!) Forms of PPE. This is because any substance, whether corrosive or not, and any material, sharp or not, can be dangerous when it comes into contact with the eyes.

Each year, approximately 2.4 million eye injuries occur in the United States, both at work and during leisure activities. Of these injuries, some 50,000 victims lost their sight to some degree. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), 90% of these eye injuries could have been prevented with safety glasses.

Since 61% of eye injuries occur in manufacturing, construction, or trade jobs, it is important to recognize that there are different types of PPE glasses available for different situations. Don’t be afraid to ask about updating your glasses.

4. Increase the quality of your workday.
Think of PPE as a kind of support system for the work your job requires you to do. It may be more physically demanding or a little more dangerous than your average desk job, but the equipment is provided to make you feel that the physical risk is minimal.

Items of PPE, like weight belts, offer stability for tasks that require you to lift heavy objects, and these can be the difference between having to go to work with tense muscles the next day or not. Steps must be taken to prevent basic slip and fall injuries that, at the simplest level, simply ruin someone’s day.

All workers should feel safe to question the effectiveness of the PPE provided and feel informed about the standards that equipment must meet. Organizations like OSH

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The Importance of PPE – Coronavirus Edition

Healthcare professionals rely on personal protective equipment every single day to protect themselves and their patients from the spread of germs and infectious diseases. But now, with the coronavirus pandemic spreading like wildfire, PPE is more important than ever.
Now, healthcare professionals are seeing the real risk of failure to use PPE, rather than discussing risk as a hypothetical worst-case scenario. Healthcare workers are now the most at-risk population for coronavirus simply because they see so many infected patients.

Worse, when healthcare workers do get sick, their constant exposure to sick patients means that their viral load will be much higher than the average person and they face a far greater risk of incapacitating or fatal infections.

In light of the current dangers, we’re taking a closer look at PPE – coronavirus edition. Here are some of the most essential forms of PPE and what they do to protect your workers during the pandemic.

Face Masks
The key feature of the coronavirus is respiratory symptoms, such as dry coughing, and it spreads primarily through saliva droplets or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is why masks (and even custom plexiglass sneeze guards) are essential – for the infected and those around them.

While it does help to cover your cough or sneeze and face away from others, covering your mouth with your elbow or sleeve does not fully contain saliva droplets flung into the air. A face mask keeps saliva and discharge completely contained, protecting those around you.

In addition, face masks protect healthy individuals by preventing them from breathing in saliva droplets of an infected person.

The most efficient and effective masks are N95 respirators, which must be fitted to the individual wearer. These are also difficult to acquire at the moment because they’re in high demand, and should only be worn by medical personnel. The same goes for surgical masks, which must now go through decontamination to be reused because of severe shortages.

To help conserve resources for medical personnel, non-medical workers should wear cloth face masks.

According to the National Institutes of Health, coronavirus can stay stable on surfaces for several hours, similar to the original SARS virus. On plastic and stainless steel, for example, scientists found viable traces of COVID-19 two to three days after exposure. And because coronavirus is a virus (and thus isn’t exactly alive) you cannot necessarily kill the virus by disinfecting surfaces the way you would kill germs.

Safety gloves are critical PPE because they prevent your hands from being exposed to the virus on surfaces. We use our hands for everything, and because the virus can live without a host for quite some time, it’s astonishingly easy to spread the virus via touch.

Granted, touching someone with infected gloves is no better than touching them with your bare hands, but gloves do protect the wearer from exposure – as long as you remove and dispose of them properly.

7 Types of Personal Protective Equipment

Understanding PPE for the Coronavirus
We understand that this is a difficult time for many workers, especially healthcare providers. We hope to be a safety resource during this period. Share this PPE – coronavirus guide with your workers as part of safety training.

And if you need more coronavirus resources, make sure to check out our blog, like this beginner’s guide to coronavirus.