Over the last several months, many places of business have been closed or operating in a limited capacity. As we reopen, PPE (personal protective equipment) will play a key role in shaping our new ways of working.
Whether you work for a fitness facility, in hospitality, education, transportation or business services, there is one thing that rings true as we move forward from the initial onset of the Coronavirus pandemic: PPE is now a necessity.
While most people immediately think of masks when they think of PPE (and, of course, they're correct), masks are only one part of PPE that facilities should have on hand as they reopen. According to the FDA, “Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to protective clothing, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, surgical masks, respirators, and other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or help prevent wearer exposure to infection or illness.”
What's really needed, and where, when it comes to PPE? We compiled the below PPE educational guide for you to reference for your facility.
Masks are available in many different styles, like surgical and unvalved N95s (best saved for healthcare and those who work around chemicals, like plumbers or painters), fabric or cloth masks, and disposable surgical masks. The CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Although people may have their own cloth face masks that they wear to your facility, you should still have inventory of disposable PPE masks in the event that someone forgets to bring one. This is especially true for academic settings with younger children, who may need a replacement during the day. Masks are possibly one of the most essential pieces of equipment your facility will need.
Similar to other types of PPE, there are a variety of different gloves to choose from for your facility. We suggest using vinyl gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. These gloves are also an excellent choice for food handling, where manual dexterity and personal protection are simultaneously needed. Made from non-sterilized, latex-free, powder-free and DOP-free vinyl, these gloves allow individuals to safely handle materials while avoiding subject-to-skin contact.
Face shields are a pre-assembled, lightweight and easy-to-use device that protect against spray particles directed at the face.
Shields have a number of advantages. First of all, they are endlessly reusable, simply requiring cleaning with soap and water or common disinfectants, or replacement of the shield if it is damaged. Shields are usually more comfortable to wear than masks, and they form a barrier that keeps people from easily touching their own faces. The use of a face shield also allows visibility of facial expressions and lip movements for speech perception.
Not technically PPE, but considered the first line of defense when entering your facility. Be sure to have hand sanitizing stations readily available for all who enter. They're practical to be certain but also provide peace of mind for those that visit your place of business. Use a hand sanitizer with 60% or greater alcohol content as recommeded by the CDC.
Stay in the Know
Remember that the above is a guide, and PPE should only be one part of any infection control effort, along with social distancing and hand-washing, especially as we relax physical distancing going forward. Knowledge of your local rules and regulations regarding PPE will also help guide you through the process of what PPE is right for your business.
For more COVID-19 Resources, check out the following posts:
- COVID-19 Tips: Dwell Times for Effective Disinfection
- Welcome to the Touch-Free Future
- Alcohol-Based Vs. Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers