Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an important tool for preventing chemical burns, infectious disease spread, and other problems involving hazardous materials. While putting PPE on is quite simple, you must take certain steps while removing the gear to preserve your PPE’s effectiveness. Follow these five best practices for putting on and removing PPE.
No Gapping at the Wrists
When donning your PPE, there should be no gaps between your PPE gown or suit and your gloves. To keep from exposing your wrists, make sure your gloves completely cover the wrists of your gown, creating a seamless protective exterior. Follow these steps no matter which level of HAZMAT protection you are using.
Proper Mask Fit
Different types of PPE call for different levels of face protection. The highest level of HAZMAT protection requires full face covering, goggles, and an SCBA respirator, while lower levels may only require a surgical mask and face shield. Regardless, it is crucial for your safety that your mask, respirator, goggles, and face shield fit securely at the nose and chin.
PPE Removal in Steps
There are two ways to remove PPE: taking off each piece step-by-step or removing most of your PPE at one time. Note that not all types of PPE work both ways, so use whichever process is most effective for your level of PPE.
To remove your PPE step-by-step, take each piece off in this order:
- Goggles/Face shield
Never touch the outside of your PPE with bare hands while removing it. This will defeat the purpose of your PPE.
PPE Removal All at Once
Another method you can use to remove some types of PPE is the all-at-once method. To do this, you’ll remove your gown and gloves at the same time. This works best with thin, fabric-like PPE gowns as opposed to heavy-duty level A HAZMAT suits.
Start by pulling the gown away from you, breaking the ties in the back. Using your gloved hands, you can pull the gown off your body, crumpling the PPE gown into a ball. Pull your hands out of the gloves, keeping them in the ball. The outer side of the ball will be safe to touch since it was the inside of the gown.
The final best practice for putting on and removing PPE is washing your hands to remove any accidental traces of hazardous materials. Once you have done this step, you are finished removing PPE and can return to other work zones. You should also wash your hands immediately if you accidentally touch the outside of your PPE while removing it.
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