PPE, aka, personal protective equipment, may not have been on your list of things to buy for your business pre-COVID-19. In fact, these were items that were mostly worn by medical professionals. But COVID-19 has added face masks, gloves, and face shields to our everyday lives. At least some form of PPE is now required while visiting any facility including grocery stores, banks, daycares, offices, and other environments. In addition to social distancing, wearing PPE helps to flatten the curve of coronavirus.
WHAT IS PPE?
As defined by the FDA, personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to protective clothing, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, facemasks, and other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or the spread of infection or illness.” Personal protective equipment functions as a barrier between pathogens and the eyes, nose, mouth, and hands to prevent sickness.
PPE is designed to keep bacteria and viruses from spreading via direct and indirect contact. This includes person to person, which is spread through respiratory droplets, and surface to person, which is when someone touches a contaminated surface and then proceeds to touch their mouth or nose. While PPE alone can’t stop the spread of germs, it plays a big role in keeping people safe when used with proper handwashing, social distancing, thorough disinfection, and good hygienic practices.
4 TYPES OF PPE YOUR FACILITY NEEDS
Business and facility managers need to invest in PPE to keep their environments safe from dangerous pathogens like coronavirus, influenza, pneumonia, and others. Here are the 4 types of PPE your facility needs.
Face masks keep customers or employees from inhaling or exhaling germs (such as coronavirus) that transfer via respiratory droplets or the air. Wearing a face mask blocks the germs from entering the body. More importantly, they help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases from individuals who appear well but are unknowingly carrying pathogens and spreading them when they talk, laugh, sneeze, or cough. To make sure all staff members and customers stay protected, you’ll need to provide face masks at entryways and on desks and counters.
Gloves keep employees’ and customers’ hands safe from invisible germs. Oftentimes when people come into contact with pathogens on a contaminated surface, they don’t know it. Using gloves prevents direct contact with germs that could cause illness. Gloves are typically worn during cleaning or in healthcare settings because they do create a barrier between the skin and the contaminated or unsafe matter whether it be blood, vomit, or saliva.
When wearing gloves, keep these key things in mind:
- Gloves do become contaminated. While your hands are likely free of germs, your gloves can be covered in bacteria. Be sure to not touch your face or skin while wearing them.
- Follow proper procedures to put on and remove gloves. Clean your hands before and after, and be sure to remove gloves in a safe way so germs do not spread.
- Change gloves frequently. Swap out your gloves for a new pair after touching a surface to keep germs from being transmitted.
- Order gloves in bulk as they can run out pretty quickly.
PROTECTIVE CLOTHING OR GEAR
Protective clothing or gear like suits or uniforms can keep employees safe from head to toe. Protective gear is designed to cover arms, legs, and chest areas with the goal of keeping the person wearing the garments safe. From gowns to full bodysuits, there are many options for keeping skin safe from bacteria.
Not only are you able to protect yourself from coming into contact with pathogens by wearing them, but it also guarantees you’re not spreading them. Protective clothing is only effective when cared for properly. PPE clothing and gear should always be taken off at the end of the day and washed with a special disinfectant laundry detergent, to prevent employees from taking germs home with them via the garments.
FACE SHIELDS & SNEEZE GUARDS
Face shields are a step up from face masks in the fight to stop the spread of germs. Because they cover the entire face and neck and are often made of non-porous materials, face shields offer a higher level of protection.
Face shields are easier to disinfect and they are often reusable. This is the reason why face shields are showing up everywhere, from the grocery store check out counters to salons. These protective glass barriers and shields are designed to keep employees safe from germs that customers bring in.
Just imagine the exposure level of a cashier who assists dozens of people in a day. These safety devices are important to create an added level of protection for essential workers and exposed employees. You’ll need to disinfect the glass at least once a day with an EPA-disinfectant wipe to keep it clean and safe.