Personal Protection Equipment has fast become a necessity during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Schools, workplaces and the general public unfortunately cannot go without it. This is more than likely not going to change anytime in the near future. So, what exactly is PPE or personal protection equipment?
In short, any item of PPE is used to create a barrier between the person using it and the environment they find themselves in. It is a crucial way in which to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as to give our frontline caregivers the protection that they deserve, especially during the second wave of the pandemic.
“If we are to successfully manage the anticipated surge in cases and ensure that everyone who needs treatment receives it, we must provide for additional expenditure on personal protective equipment for health workers, community screening, an increase in testing capacity, additional beds in field hospitals, ventilators, medicine and staffing,” – Cyril Ramaphosa
Medical Staff PPE
PPE works as a barrier between a person’s skin, mouth, nose, or eyes and viral and bacterial infections. In order to be used in a medical setting, most PPE such as medical gloves, gowns, and N95 respirators are regulated and must meet governmental regulations.
Doctors and medical staff need to practice safety and social distancing when dealing with patients who are possibly infected with the COVID-19 virus. Often, they need to be around these patients for prolonged periods of time in order to examine them or treat their symptoms.
PPE in most medical settings includes face masks, face shields, gloves, eye protection, boots and protective suits.
Face masks are by far one of the most effective and easy ways in which to implement personal safety. It is important to wear one at all times when you are in public while at the same time practicing social distancing guidelines, using hand sanitizers and washing your hands frequently for at least 30 seconds at a time.
PPE And Its Importance in The Workplace
Personal Protective Equipment is clothing or equipment that is designed to reduce an employee’s exposure to chemical, biological, and physical hazards when operating in their workplace.
Here are some other benefits of using PPEs in the Workplace:
- Prevention of injury in the workplace.
- The protection of employees from any chemical exposure.
- Prevention of the spread of germs and infectious diseases such as COVID-19.
- Helping businesses to comply with regulatory requirements.
- The improvement of employee productivity and efficiency.
The following are basic PPE items that are needed to protect employees in the workplace:
Face and Eye Protection
This type of PPE includes safety goggles and face shields and is normally used for tasks that can cause eye damage or loss of vision. They are also used to prevent sprays of toxic liquids, splashes, and burns from the face and eyes.
This includes full-face respirators, self-contained breathing apparatus, gas masks, N95 respirators, and surgical masks that are used for tasks that can cause inhalation of harmful materials.
These harmful materials may include harmful gases, chemicals, large-particle droplets, sprays, splashes or splatter that may contain viruses and bacteria such as COVID-19 or other viral infections.
Skin and Body Protection
Skin and body PPE is made up of the following categories in order to protect employees from any physical hazards:
PPE in this category includes hard hats and headgears that are required for certain tasks that can prevent any force or object from falling onto the head and causing serious damage.
This includes safety vests and suits that are used for tasks that can cause bodily harm from extreme temperatures, flames, toxic chemicals, insect bites and radiation.
PPE includes safety gloves that are mainly used for tasks that can cause hand and skin burns, absorption of harmful substances, cuts or fractures.
This includes knee pads and safety boots that are used for tasks that can cause foot and leg injuries caused from falling or rolling objects, hot substances, electrical hazards, and slippery surfaces.
This PPE includes safety harnesses and lanyards that are used for tasks that can cause falling from heights thus protecting the user from serious injury or even death.
This is equipment such earmuffs and plugs that are used for tasks that can cause hearing problems or loss of hearing.
PPE and Covid19
When used properly and with other infection control practices PPE can significantly minimize the spread of the virus from one person to another during the current pandemic.
While the equipment is necessary for both public and personal health, there can at times be shortages which in turn can put anyone who comes into contact with COVID-19 patients at risk.
The WHO explains that the current PPE shortage is driven not only by the number of COVID-19 cases but also by misinformation, panic buying and stockpiling (source).
Let Protective Hygiene protect you, your workplace and your family in a time where sanitization and personal protective equipment can mean the difference between sickness and health or even life and death.