HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT TYPE OF PPE
The recent COVID-19 outbreak has changed the use of protective equipment globally. Individuals and Businesses around the world have not only actively started the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as an important strategy to protect their personnel from contamination but to also develop strong hygiene practices. with the changing scope of protective equipment, there are many more types and standards of PPE required based on type of use, frequency of use and environment its being used
What is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
PPE is a type of clothing or equipment designed to protect workers from physical hazards in their place of work. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been changes made by all organizations to focus on their employee’s health and protect them against the coronavirus. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses, face sheets, safety shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, gowns, or full bodysuits.
How to select the right PPE for your need:
PPE creates a barrier that reduces the chance of touching or being exposed to pathogens (bacteria, virus and microorganisms) or germs. One PPE is not intended to be the only measure of protection against virus, but sometimes a combination of two or more PPE is required for complete safety.
Before you select your PPE, first decide if you are in need of it and then select the right PPE based upon the type of hazard and level of contact with surfaces and people. At your workplace, you may need to use different types of PPE for different people. It is essential to consider the following factors when selecting PPE:
1) Proper Fitting and design
When it comes to selecting protective equipment, it is important to check the proper fit to avoid personal hazards. Moreover, it is essential to ensure that protective apparel is designed and made from the right materials. Wearing a glove, shoe, and garment that is too large in size is as unacceptable as one that is too small. It is important for employees to have varying options and sizes of protective apparel to ensure a good fit and full range of motion.
2) Flexibility and lightweight
Weight and flexibility are important in protective clothing because they affect the wearer's range of motion. While lightweight, single-use protective apparel offers obvious advantages over recyclable garments. Lightweight fabrics must also be strong enough to withstand the rigors of the workplace. This single-use protective apparels are easily available in the market and are cost-effective.
3) Comfort is a must!
For any individual, the aesthetic comfort of a protective garment can be as important as its physiological comfort. Hence, it is important to select the apparel which not only provides you with a protective barrier but also keeps you comfortable to withstand hot and humid environments.
Types of PPE
Depending upon the type of workplace, nature of the hazard, and your requirement, there are different types of PPE available in the market.
1) Eye protection:
Eye protection includes face shields and goggles. These eyewears are specifically designed to reduce the risk of exposure to chemical splashes, laser radiation, and/or flying debris.
General safety glasses: These provide a minimum level of eye protection and they could be worn in places such as laboratory, surgical clinics. They are effective in protecting the eyes from debris and chemical solutions.
Laser safety glasses: The selection of laser safety glasses is based on laser wavelength and power. Laser safety glasses have colored or special clear lenses that filter light. They block certain wavelengths of light (either visible or invisible) and allow other light to pass through.
2) Face protection:
Masks are intended to cover your mouth and nose. Some masks have a see-through plastic that cover an individual’s eyes. A surgical mask prevents the spread of pathogens. Below is some commonly used and highly recommended face protection apparel that can be worn at workplace and public places:
Surgical masks: Surgical masks are disposable, loose-fitting face masks that are intended to cover nose, mouth, and chin. They’re typically used to protect the individual from sprays, splashes, large-particle droplets, and may help to prevent the transmission of the bacteria and virus by blocking the dispersion of respiratory droplets propelled by coughing, sneezing and talking. Besides hospitals and private clinics, it is now required to wear masks when for essential and non-essential businesses such as banks, beauty salons, grocery stores, and while using public transportation.
KN-95 and N-95 Mask: These forms of mask are designed to reduce the risk of inhaling hazardous airborne pathogens. In addition to splashes, sprays, and large droplets, this mask has an ability to filter out up to 95 percent of very small particles, bacteria and viruses. The respirator itself is generally circular or oval in shape and is designed to form a tight seal to your face. Elastic bands help to hold it firmly to your face. Some types may have an attachment called an exhalation valve, which can help with breathing. It is recommended to use N-95 masks if you are working in the healthcare sector, food industry, construction industry, and other industrial-type jobs that require complete hygiene and where there are high chances of the workers getting exposed to dust and pathogens.
3) Hands Protection: Appropriate selection of gloves is essential for protecting hands from germs or chemicals. Gloves should only be used under the specific conditions for which they are designed, as gloves are not resistant to all chemicals. It is also important to note that gloves degrade over time, so they should be replaced as necessary to ensure adequate protection.
Latex and non-latex gloves: Latex gloves are available coated with powder to make them easier to put on, but in the case of sterile environments and procedures, non-powdered gloves are standard. Latex is favored for its comfort and the high degree of dexterity and tactile sensitivity it preserves, but as many professionals have developed allergies to it and hence non-latex gloves are used. The goals of non-latex gloves are the same as those of latex gloves. They should provide a barrier, be comfortable, and should allow professionals of any field to work with high precision. The main drawback is the high cost in comparison to latex gloves, but in cases where allergies prevent the use of latex, non-latex gloves are well worth it.
Disposable latex: They are easily available as powdered treated or non-powdered treated latex gloves. They are a popular choice of protective glove for medical or industrial use. They can be used at public places, workplaces, while using public transport and can be used at home for daily household activity. When allergy is not a concern, latex does have a slight advantage with comfort and dexterity over nitrile gloves.
Disposable vinyl: This is the most popular type of disposable glove commonly used by healthcare professionals, dental clinics, spa and salons, industrial workers and general public for household activities, gardening, painting, or while using public transport. They are economical and durable similar to that of latex gloves It is an excellent alternative for individuals who are allergic to natural latex.
4) Body Protection: Body protection clothing includes gowns, head covers, and shoe covers. These are often used during surgery to protect doctors and patients from bodily fluids. In the hospital, visitors are asked to wear gowns if they are visiting a person who is in isolation due to an illness that can be easily spread. In the lab, gowns can provide a barrier between skin and chemicals or liquids.
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