While it’s historically typically used in the private healthcare sector and NHS, PPE has become commonplace across all industries and roles, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 2020, UK companies have turned to personal protective equipment to keep their staff safe and workplaces open.
We can learn from the healthcare sector that a critical element to the effectiveness of NHS PPE is how it is donned and doffed (put on and taken off) by the wearer. Wearing an item incorrectly or mishandling a garment can put a person at increased risk of contamination to harmful substances like bacteria, fungi and viruses. So this article serves as a guide for the best practise on how to don and doff the most common forms of protective equipment.
While the following methods for applying and removing PPE aim to work across all sectors, you should always follow the guidelines for your specific workplace. For example, you might expect rules around the order to add and remove items, where to store them and how to dispose of them. In addition, some sectors, like healthcare, have much stricter processes for PPE than others due to the infection risk involved with the work.
It’s important to remember that the outside of the gloves is likely to be contaminated, so you should immediately wash your hands if you touch them. To remove them, use a gloved hand to grab the palm of the other gloved hand and peel the glove off inside out. Then, keeping hold of the glove in your gloved hand, slide the fingers of your ungloved hand into the remaining glove and peel it off over the first glove. Finally, discard the gloves together in a waste container.
Face shield or goggles
Remove the face shield or googles from the back by lifting the earpieces or headband. If the item is reusable, store it in a suitable place ready for cleaning. Otherwise, discard it into the correct waste container. Make sure you wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser after touching the PPE item.
To remove the apron, reach behind you and untie the fastening ties, then pull the garment away from your neck and shoulders, touching only the inside of the apron. Finally, turn the apron inside out and fold it into a bundle before disposing of it. Ensure the outside of the apron never touches your body when you remove it, as it’s likely to be contaminated. If it does touch your body or clothing, you may have to remove your clothes immediately for cleaning.
Face mask or respirator
To remove the mask, first grab the bottom ties or elastic, then the ones at the top and peel it from your face without touching the front. Then, discard the mask in the waste container. Again, ensure not to touch the front of the mask, but if you do, then wash your hands immediately.
Once you’ve removed all necessary PPE, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water or an appropriate hand sanitiser. Hand sanitisers should be made with at least 60% alcohol and designed to kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.
While the processes for removing PPE can be lengthy with specific movements and order to remember, they are a must to ensure the garments keep workers as safe as possible.
If you or your workplace needs protective equipment, then visit Alexandra Workwear. Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, their range of private and NHS PPE has been helping to keep people safe across all industries.