Monday, January 27, 2014

Using Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Keeping yourself safe is a vitally important aspect of any healthcare position. And one required way to do just that is through the use of personal protective equipment.

So what is personal protective equipment?

PPE refers to equipment, or clothing items, that you wear to prevent or greatly minimize the possibility of exposure to injuries and illness in the workplace.  Items particularly relevant for healthcare workers include gloves, safety glasses, and depending on where you work, shoes, vests, and full body suits. The idea of this gear is to create a wall between you and infectious diseases and germs, and to prevent exposure to blood and other bodily fluids, thus minim

In short, PPE will reduce your chances of being exposed to, touching, and spreading contaminants. Whether you work in a hospital, doctor’s office, or veterinary facility, PPE protects you and others from the risk of infection. All healthcare workers should utilize personal protective equipment when they work with bodily fluids of any type. Why? For safety of course, but also because it is required to meet OSHA standards.

Typically, the most common healthcare PPE are gloves and masks. Naturally, gloves protect you from germs and from spreading them by touch. Masks cover your mouth and your nose, some even have a clear plastic section that covers your eyes. Masks function to keep you from breathing in some germs or spreading them.

In certain situations, a respiratory mask may be necessary to prevent breathing in very small germs by forming a seal around nose and mouth.

Eye protection is another form of PPE, such as goggles or shields, to protect your eyes from contact with bodily fluids or chemicals.

For your body, PPE clothing can be made up of aprons, gowns, shoe covers, and head covering.
Typically used during surgery and other medical procedures, the use of clean PPE clothing protects both you and the patient.

PPE may also be necessary to protect healthcare workers not just from germs but from certain chemicals and compounds, such as cancer treatments. This type of PPE, or cytotoxic personal protective equipment,  may include a liquid-proof grown with long sleeves and elastic cuffs.

So after you’ve found the proper PPE, and worn it, how do you dispose of it again?

You’ll need to follow safe removal and disposal protocol, placing garments in appropriate
laundry containers if they can be used again after cleaning, disposing of other one-use garments in special waste containers, or bags marked specifically for use with cytotoxic PPE clothing.

Overall, healthcare workers should be sure their PPE is clean, reliable, fits well, and is comfortable. Employers must provide you with training as to what type of equipment to wear and when it’s necessary to use it, as well as how to put it on, adjust it, and take it off and dispose of it correctly. PPE effectiveness should be regularly evaluated and updated, and worn or damaged PPE replaced.

In many cases, you may need to utilize different PPE for different situations and patients. If you don’t know the right kind of gear to use, or need general PPE instruction, Medtrainer can help. Our unique online instruction program guides healthcare staff of all types through OSHA requirements and safety standards.

Stay safe! Know what PPE is available to you and what you need. Learn correct use and disposal procedures. The life you save may be your own.

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