PPE is equipment that protects people's health against infection or safety risks. It includes objects like gloves, security helmets, high-visibility clothing, eye protection, face masks, safety footwear, gowns and aprons, and other safety fittings.
This pandemic has put continuous pressure and restrictions on getting any items of PPE. Before you get into the usage of PPE, you need to know how to use PPE, and what you need.
Ask yourself a few questions: What are you exposed to? How long are you exposed? and How much are you exposed?
When choosing PPE, you need to choose products that suit you– check the size, fit, and weight of the PPE. If you choose it carefully, you will be more likely to use it. If you wish to use more than one item of PPE at the same time, you need to make sure they can be used together, such as using safety glasses may disrupt the seal of a respirator, creating air leaks. Always use these products with extra care for example remove your gloves without contaminating their skin. You should be aware of how to use them and what are the limitations of these products.
How COVID-19 Spreads
This COVID-19 virus mainly spreads through respiratory droplets. When an infected person with COVID-19 sneezes or coughs, respiratory droplets that carry the virus are discharged and can be breathed in by someone. The only way that this virus can enter your body is through the respiratory droplets that carry the virus getting into your airways or mucous membranes of your nose, eyes, or mouth.
The other way that this virus can reach you is that if you touch any surface contaminated with the virus and then touch your mouth, eyes, nose.
Why is PPE Important?
PPE guards the wearer against infection. Proper use of it helps keep people safe and prevents the spread of COVID-19. In this ongoing pandemic, these days making the workplace safe involves giving instructions, methods, training, and guidance to help people to work carefully and responsibly.
Other than workplaces PPE is also needed for people who frequently go out to public gatherings or at some events. Despite if there are safety measures and other controls, some hazards might remain. These include:
- the lungs, e.g. from breathing in contaminated air
- the eyes, e.g. from flying particles or splashes
- the skin, e.g. from contact with infected materials
- the body, e.g. from extremes of heat or cold
You should also use PPE while providing treatment or care, like:
- If you are caring for someone suspected, presumable, or confirmed COVID-19.
- While collecting specimens from people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- If you are having any contact with people who have a temperature or severe respiratory symptoms.
- If you are working directly with patients or citizens in an area with significant community transmission.
PPE is of utmost importance in all these cases to reduce the risk.
How to Access and Use PPE
Use the following PPE when caring for people that are suspected or confirmed with COVID-19:
- Long-sleeved apron or gown
- Surgical mask
- Protecting eyewear such as safety goggles or face shield, or
- Disposable gloves
Fit-check your PPE equipment with every use. After your consultation procedure of patient contact, safely remove your PPE. Maintain hand hygiene after every individual PPE item is removed.
When to Use What?
Gloves prevent infection and help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If:
- They are used correctly; and
- Proper hand hygiene before and after wear.
It’s essential to understand that gloves do not give complete protection from hand contamination. So, hand hygiene is very important before and after glove use.
Note: Never use the same pair of gloves for the care of more than one patient!
Gowns are used to resist penetration by blood or body fluids. They prevent your clothes from getting contaminated are fluid resistant enough to keep body fluids away.
They are used for the care of patients on contact precautions and splash-generating procedures.
3) Masks and Respirators
When used accurately, N95 respirators and other procedure masks protect you from droplets and particles that could be contagious.
They should be used always whenever you are moving out of your home. An N95 respirator is intended to provide more protection than a procedure mask.