Selection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - Not Fad but Safety Fashion

The use of PPE has evolved from blasé latex gloves and white lab coats to a plethora of options. How do you know what to select and when? What criteria should be included in the evaluation?

Gloves
Gloves should be appropriately sized to accommodate all users in an area.
Consideration must be given to:

  • What type of procedures will be done and what is the anticipated length of time necessary to wear gloves?
  • What are the glove components?
  • Will chemical exposures or blood exposures be anticipated?
  • Is there potential for interaction between anticipated chemicals and the glove components?
  • Are there latex sensitive or allergic individuals in the area? If so consideration must be given to gloves comprised of synthetic components versus natural latex.

Myth: One type of glove can accommodate all personnel needs.
Fact: Not one type or size of glove will accommodate all users throughout all procedures and activities in a setting!

Gowns/lab coats
Size may be a consideration but more important is the comfort associated with the selection of gowns or lab coats. The impervious nature of today’s fabrics will increase fluid loss (perspiration), decrease comfort and could prompt non-compliance.
Consider the following:

  • What procedures truly require impervious gowns or lab coats?
  • How much heat is produced by instruments or equipment in the area?
  • Does the design include a cotton back panel to increase comfort for the wearer?
  • Will chemical exposures or blood exposures be anticipated?
  • How many washings can the fabric withstand and retain its impervious nature?

    Myth: The more impervious the better.
    Fact: Selection of gowns or lab coats needs to be driven by comfort as well as protection.

Eye protection
Eye protection needs to be integral to the dress code of an area. Consistent use can dramatically decrease splashes to the eye. Eye protection should provide top, side and bottom protection.  Consider the following:

  • What types of procedures are being done?
  • Is there distortion in the primary or peripheral field of vision for wearers? If so, could this create additional hazard or equilibrium problems?
  • Will the eye protection accommodate all users with corrective lenses?
  • Does fogging occur with the selected eye protection?

    Myth: Eye protection is only necessary for some procedures.
    Fact: Eye protection is necessary for all procedures
Last Updated: 03-12-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.