With all the news coverage of the Ebola scare in recent weeks, many workplaces and individuals are wondering how and if they should prepare for this new threat. In part three of a 3-part series, we talk about how to put on and take off personal protective equipment to avoid contamination. These tips are important for any workers who deal with hazardous materials – from bloodborne pathogens to industrial solvents. Your PPE is designed to protect you before, during and after exposure, if used properly.
Proper PPE removal is crucial to avoid contamination. Even with the best gear, a worker can easily become contaminated if they are not careful to remove items safely. And, while the Ebola news has many worrying about these issues right now, the risk of contamination exists in many workplaces. Keep your workers safe by making sure they follow proper donning and doffing techniques.
Ongoing Risk of Exposure
Workers who deal with hazardous chemicals, high levels of heat or molten materials, or health hazards such as bloodborne pathogens certainly realize they are at risk while in the presence of the hazard. But the natural tendency is to relax once the initial danger is no longer present. It is during the removal of safety equipment, when the actual hazard is no longer obvious, that workers may let down their guard, and accidentally expose themselves to risk.
The most important thing to remember when removing PPE is to avoid touching contaminated surfaces with bare skin. Gloves, coveralls, hard hats, masks and goggles should all be treated as contaminated, and should be removed from the inside-out whenever possible. In the case of disposable gloves and coveralls, this allows the contaminated surface to be folded in on itself for safe disposal.
For more information, check out this poster from the CDC, detailing the proper way to wear PPE to avoid medical contamination, and two methods for safely removing gear.