PPE for Healthcare Workers: What You Need to Know

Prior to the pandemic, most people hadn’t even heard of the terms “personal protective equipment” or PPE. But given the current global health crisis, it is a term that is all too familiar, especially among healthcare workers. The thing is, PPE for healthcare workers was already widely in use even before the pandemic. Healthcare professionals are exposed to hazards in their line of work when exposed to patients and contaminants in the laboratory. Wearing protective equipment is a must for ensuring their own health and safety.  

What are 4 types of PPE used in healthcare?

The term PPE refers to a set of products or equipment designed to provide protection against possible exposure to infection in the hospital or laboratory. Selecting the right PPE is crucial in the prevention of infection and to limit the exposure to hazards at work. 

The four types of PPE can be classified into the following categories: eye and face protection, respiratory protection, hand protection, and body protection. 

1. Eye and Face Protection

Healthcare workers are required to wear some type of eyewear that is specifically designed to reduce the exposure to hazards in the workplace. Since the eyes, mouth, and nose are considered potential areas for transmission of the virus, it is important that healthcare workers wear adequate protection in these areas. 

For example, PPE like face shields, face masks, and impact goggles are essential to avoid exposure to contaminants in the hospital or laboratory.

2. Respiratory Protection

Respiratory equipment provides the last line of defense for healthcare workers against causes of respiratory illness. There are several types of respiratory devices in use in hospitals and clinics such as N-95 respirators, surgical masks, half-mask respirators, full-mask respirators, and respirator cartridges, to name a few.

3. Hand Protection

Contamination in a healthcare setting could easily be transmitted through the hands. Therefore, healthcare workers must wear adequate gear for hand protection to minimize dermal exposures when working in laboratories or the spread of infection through their hands. 

Wearing latex or nitrile gloves is a common practice among healthcare workers. But it is worth noting that gloves deteriorate over time, so they should be replaced often. There is also a variety of types of gloves available for medical use, so make sure you choose the right one for the specific setting.

4. Body Protection

The wearing of lab coats is recommended for all healthcare workers. It protects the body from possible contaminants in the hospital or laboratories. If healthcare workers are handling infectious materials, specialized barrier coats are also required for added protection. 

how effective is PPE for healthcare workers

What PPE is required for healthcare workers?

PPE for healthcare workers is a must in healthcare settings to provide a barrier of protection for these workers against infectious agents. The requirement for PPE use will vary on a case-to-case basis. 

For standard control precautions, there are general guidelines that must be met when using PPE, such as the following:

  • The wearing of gloves, surgical masks, eye goggles, respirator masks, face visors, and long sleeved gowns is required in most healthcare settings.
  • The specific type of PPE used will be based on the risk assessment of the healthcare setting. For example, healthcare workers that will be exposed to infectious agents such as bodily fluids must wear an extra layer of protection in addition to the general PPE requirements. 
  • The proper wearing and fitting of PPE is also emphasized in healthcare settings, which is just as important as the wearing of PPE altogether. Proper disposal of PPE must also be observed to limit contamination and the spread of infectious agents. 
ppe for healthcare workers guideline

How effective is PPE for healthcare workers? 

The FDA and regulatory bodies in the healthcare industry impose the wearing of PPEs in hospitals and other healthcare settings as a legal requirement. This is to ensure that the healthcare workers are safe and protected from potential hazards. It is also part of the compliance in providing a safe and healthy working environment for healthcare professionals. 

But how effective is PPE for healthcare workers really? The first factor that improves the effectiveness of wearing PPEs is the risk assessment of the working conditions. Specialized PPEs are required for advanced risk settings, such as during the time of global pandemic. Every healthcare worker must carefully consider the proper fit and use of the PPE to ensure that it does its job of limiting exposure. 

The use of High quality  personal protective equipment  is also one way to guarantee that it is effective in delivering protection. Make sure that all PPE obtained for use in healthcare settings have met the regulatory requirements of the FDA. This will ensure that the PPE is made using the best quality materials that can limit the transmission of viruses and other infectious agents. 

Make sure to always check for compliance when you buy PPE or medical equipment. One way to ensure this is to buy only from trusted suppliers so you can guarantee that the medical equipment obtained is fit for use in healthcare settings.