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How to Store PPE

PPE clothing, otherwise known as personal protective equipment, refers to any item either used or worn to reduce potential risk on workers when they're at work. It's an effective way to protect them from physical injuries or contamination in their work environment. But because of the challenges brought about by COVID-19, a spike in demand for PPE has been observed especially for face masks, gloves, and gowns. 

 

Now, millions of people worldwide have constantly been using PPE since the pandemic started to protect themselves. So to understand the importance of PPE, let's look at what it's all about and what its benefits are. 

What is PPE?

 

PPE has played a crucial role in protecting employees assigned in potentially hazardous workspaces as they perform their jobs. Recently, its essential role has been brought to the fore in protecting the healthcare frontliners during the pandemic.

 

PPE for COVID-19 primarily consists of surgical masks, gloves, particulate filter respirators, and face shields. It also includes goggles, aprons, and gowns. Aside from healthcare employees, other workers may need to use one if they work around individuals who are COVID-19 positive or those who might be a suspected carrier of any infectious disease or hazardous chemicals.

 

Why is PPE essential?

 

Protects the wearer from exposure to harmful bacteria

 

PPE safety is essential to help workers prepare themselves for any potential health and safety risks by providing additional protection against exposure. These days, the PPE is one of the most effective means of protection from viruses and infection. It's also one of the most efficient safety measures that comes only second to physical distancing when it comes to controlling the spread of the virus.

 

Alleviates the risk of acquiring respiratory diseases

 

In most cases, respiratory health problems result from inhaling gases, chemicals, or smoke from contaminated air. That's why respirators are crucial in protecting your lungs from their short-term and long-term effects. Understanding the standard precautions of using PPE is a practical way to protect yourself from such exposure to harmful contaminants that can cause irritation and difficulty in breathing and can even cause viruses to spread.

 

Reduces chances for injury

 

People working in a healthcare facility are always on the move. So, they must wear the proper footwear and body and head protection when doing their work. Aside from wearing boots with a good grip, ensuring their safety from head to toe is necessary to prevent them from getting exposed to the virus. 

 

How to store PPE

 

While there are workspaces that require their employees to always wear their PPE daily, there are also PPEs that employees can safely store. Understanding how to properly keep and maintain one's PPE apparel is essential to ensuring that it remains sanitary and in reliable condition.

 

The facility should also have a particular area where staff can safely store their PPE, protected from harsh conditions. But while PPE must be stored in a specific cabinet, the company should still ensure that their staff can easily access it in case of any emergency.

 

Meanwhile, if the PPE is intended for a one-time use, the company needs to provide its staff with the proper receptacles to dispose of them safely after use. Also, employers need to train their staff about the importance of appropriate PPE disposal and maintenance to ensure everyone's safety.

 

Aside from providing the staff with the knowledge on how to store their PPE correctly, employers should also include visual communication to disseminate the information effectively. Aside from letting the staff know when and where they need to use the PPE, it's also best to inform them where they can easily find them. In most cases, people tend to forget the procedure during emergencies or find their PPE when they need them. Posting signs on where they are stored can help in averting these unwanted scenarios.

 What to do if PPE is damaged?

 

Using a damaged PPE is not only ineffective but can  also put the employees at higher risk. That's why it's essential to learn how to properly maintain such equipment for optimal serviceability. To ensure that you won't experience any garment failure, the first step is to inspect it from any damage before putting it on carefully.

 

Even if you just took it out from the cabinet or got it out from the box, inspecting your PPE will make you feel more at ease knowing that your garment isn't compromised. Meanwhile, if you're using non-disposable PPE clothing, it's essential to remember that using it regularly will cause it to wear and tear over time. That's why it's also a must to check them regularly, especially before wearing them. 

 

It's highly advisable to read the label to familiarize yourself with all the information needed to maintain the garment. It should include the details placed by the product's manufacturer, especially the expiry date. You should also check for any signs of damage, such as tear, cracks, or any fraying edges. 

 

Primary types of PPE

 

Gloves: Check for any signs of wear and tear on the glove to ensure that its gripping function and protection aren’t compromised. Wear the gloves and go through a series of motions of using the equipment to ensure that they are still usable.

 

Eye Protection: You should thoroughly inspect the eyewear for any signs of damage such as cracks or scratches that could potentially affect your vision, especially when doing your tasks. Meanwhile, you should also discard the item if it doesn't fit properly so that it won't impair your operations.

 

Headgear: Check the item for any observable holes, cracks, or other tell-tale signs of damage. It's also essential to check if it fits you snugly.

 

Garments: Garments include pants and full-body suits that workers wear to protect them from contamination. When inspecting your suit, it's best to check for any fraying seams or frayed areas that appear thin. You should also check the garment if it fits you right and won't inhibit you from moving.

 

Once you've gone through a series of thorough inspections, your employer will expect you to report any issues with your PPE and let your manager know that you need to either get it replaced or throw it away.

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