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A Comprehensive Guide to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Time:Nov 16, 2021
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk to healthcare workers has skyrocketed. According to Massachusetts General Hospital, “Compared with the general community, frontline health care workers had an 11.6-times higher risk of testing positive [for COVID-19] and those who reported that they had inadequate access to PPE had a 23% higher risk.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that “when used properly, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) acts as a barrier between infectious materials such as viral and bacterial contaminants and your skin, mouth, nose, or eyes.”

What is personal protective equipment (PPE)?

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Personal Protective Equipment Program, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) program, describes PPE as the “technical methods, processes, techniques, tools, and materials that prevent work-related injury, illness, and death.”

Examples of PPE include the following:

*Masks and face shields
*Respirators
*Gloves
*Fall protection and harnesses
*Full-body suits
*Helmets
*Goggles
*Work boots

In a healthcare setting during the pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires “healthcare workers to use proper PPE when exposed to a patient with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or other sources of SARS-CoV-2.”

PPE for healthcare workers and employers consists of gloves; gowns; face protection (such as a face shield); and NIOSH-certified, disposable N95 filter facepiece respirators.

One form of PPE that professionals in every industry currently use is a mask.

Even when the world isn’t dealing with the widespread impact of a pandemic, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is important in every workplace setting because it helps prevent injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

The Importance of PPE

Professionals in every occupation face varying levels of risk of becoming injured or falling ill.

OSHA describes how, on a regular basis, “these injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, medical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards.”

To ensure workplace safety, different organizations establish regulations according to OSHA standards.

Here are some proactive tips about managing PPE in all types of work environments, according to “The Best Way to Manage PPE for Employees.”

*Step 1: Physically remove the hazard from the workplace. If a hazard, such as dangerous equipment, has been causing multiple injuries, a manager should remove it.
*Step 2: Replace the hazard with a safer substitute. If workers on a construction site are getting injured because of a specific tool, the manager should substitute the tool for a safer, more effective one.
*Step 3: Identify a way to complete the job without the hazard. Managers can look into alternatives that avoid the hazard altogether.
*Step 4: Ensure that workers have the necessary PPE to complete the job without getting injured.

PPE looks different in various settings. While healthcare workers might wear face shields and gowns, construction workers might wear helmets and work boots.  However, PPE is equally important in all settings, because it can minimize the risk of employees becoming fatally injured due to a hazard.

The Importance of PPE in the Workplace

For individuals in leadership positions, developing an effective PPE management plan is essential.

Before creating a PPE plan, managers should consider their goals for their work environments. Some goals should include the following:

*Protecting workers
*Complying with federal, state, and regional regulations
*Adhering to company guidelines
*Understanding what’s technically feasible in the workplace
*Adhering to the budget

Healthcare Management and the Importance of Personal Protective Equipment

The effects of COVID-19 have demonstrated the importance of personal protective equipment in healthcare settings and other workplaces. Healthcare managers, among other industry leaders, have implemented regulations about using PPE — such as wearing masks, face shields, and gowns and regularly practicing hand hygiene — to help prevent the spread  of COVID-19.

Understanding how to create and implement a PPE management plan is an essential skill for professionals in leadership roles. Learn more about how to prepare your employees and work environment for health hazards.
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