What is PPE?
We’re all familiar with PPE at this point. The use of PPE, or personal protective equipment, has become even more prominent in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. PPE includes gloves, gowns, face shields, N-95s, foot coverings, and any other protective piece of equipment to help block the transmission of viruses. How an individual removes their PPE is just as critical as the PPE they use in the first place. The need for proper removal of PPE is a perfect opportunity to prove your value by educating cleaning professionals and healthcare workers to save lives by preventing cross contamination and exposure to germs.
The first step in protecting front line employees is ensuring they are wearing the correct PPE. PPE should be selected based on the results of a situation/site risk assessment. Custodial professionals need proper PPE before entering spaces to clean & disinfect where an infected (or potentially infected) individual has been located with COVID-19. Click here for more help following the minimum PPE guidance for certain situations where COVID-19 exposure risk is high. Referring to these guidelines allows you to educate your staff and customers on how to prevent contamination on their self and surroundings. Properly donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) PPE in a manner to prevent self and environmental contamination is crucial.
PPE Removal Tips
Here are some PPE removal tips following the latest information from OSHA and the CDC:
· Make sure you designate a space that is away from common areas of the building to remove their PPE. Utilize a buddy system where one worker walks through the removal steps with another worker and vice versa, maintaining a six feet distance from the other person while removing PPE.
· Depending on the situation, remove contaminated gloves first and put a clean set of gloves on to aid in the removal of your remaining PPE. Glove removal is a common area for mistakes since workers tend to rush the process. Pull the glove with the opposite hand and peel it off, turning it inside out (then follow the same procedure with the second hand). Dispose of the gloves and wash your hands, then apply an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for extra safety.
· Wear gowns to help prevent pathogens from getting on your clothing. Undo any tied areas and grab the gown from the neck, pulling it away from your body. Then, pull the gown over your hands and immediately begin rolling it inside out into a bundle. Dispose of the gown or place it in the laundry, and re-wash and sanitize your hands.
· Before removing your mask, wash your hands or put on a clean pair of gloves. Pull the straps off over your ears, avoiding touching the outside exposed area of the mask, and dispose of the mask or follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Wash and sanitize your hands.
· Wearing shoe covers helps protect people against viruses and contaminants that can linger on floors (such as SARS-CoV-2 virus). To remove them, sit down on a chair (do not stand and remove them) and pull the shoe covering over the heel and off your foot. Do the same with the other foot and the dispose of the shoe covers or launder them if they’re reusable.
· Eyeglasses aren’t considered PPE but they can become contaminated while cleaning or during the PPE removal process. Clean all parts of the frame with dish detergent and warm water, rinse, dry, and then wipe the frame with a disinfectant wipe. Always wash your hands at the end and between removal of different parts of your PPE.
How to properly dispose of disposable PPE must be part of the plan and important for infection and contamination control. Knowing how to properly clean, decontaminate, and maintain reusable PPE after and between uses is another important part of ensuring you have enough PPE in stock with current shortages.