Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is specialized clothing or equipment that protects you from exposure to blood or other potentially infectious material.
Personal protective equipment is designed to keep blood and other potentially infectious material away from your skin, eyes, and mouth.
Examples of PPE include: disposable gloves, gowns, laboratory coats, protective face shields, resuscitation masks or shields, and mouth pieces. Any equipment necessary to prevent exposure to blood or other potentially infectious material is considered PPE.
When engineering, work practice, and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide effective personal protective equipment to their workers and ensure its proper use.
To be considered effective, personal protective equipment must not allow potentially infectious materials to pass through or reach your skin, eyes, mouth, or clothes under normal conditions of use.
General work clothes, such as uniforms, pants, shirts, or blouses, which are not intended to function as a protective barrier against hazards, are not considered to be PPE.
An employer must ensure employees use appropriate personal protective equipment.
Your employer must make PPE available to you in the appropriate size and at no cost. Non-latex alternatives will also be made available to employees who have allergic sensitivity to latex. Employers must also properly clean, launder, repair, replace, or dispose of contaminated PPE as needed at no cost to the employee.
Employees should never take contaminated clothing home to be washed. This can increase the chance of accidental exposure to themselves and their family.
Disposable gloves should be a standard component of emergency response and first aid equipment and should be worn by anyone initiating emergency care.
It is best to always wear disposable gloves when providing first aid care.
Wear face shields when splashes, sprays, spatters, or droplets of infectious material pose a hazard to your eyes, nose, or mouth. It is always better to be prepared and wear a face shield if there is any chance of potential exposure to your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Use a disposable ventilation mask or shield with a one-way valve to prevent an exposure when performing rescue ventilations during CPR. It is common for patients to vomit during CPR due to excess air in the stomach.
Place contaminated protective equipment in appropriately designed areas or containers for cleaning or disposal. These areas or containers should be properly labeled and identified in your employer's exposure control plan.
Sarah is a medical laboratory technician. As part of her job duties she analyzes blood and body fluid samples. Sarah was recently reprimanded for not wearing disposable gloves to perform her work duties. She tells her supervisor the gloves make it hard for her to handle the collection containers and that she would prefer not wear gloves.
Sarah's supervisor must tell her the use of personal protective equipment is not optional. She must wear the gloves. The supervisor should also ask Sarah if the gloves are the correct size and fit for her hands. If the gloves are not the correct size, then this issue must be resolved as well. Only under very rare circumstances can an employee decline the use of personal protective equipment.
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