The past year has witnessed a colossal surge of COVID-19 cases all over the world and donning basic shields of face masks has become the new norm nowadays when stepping out for work or travel. However, the healthcare community across the globe, who have been toiling day and night to treat infected patients, are at a significantly higher risk of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 viral strain and falling sick with coronavirus disease. Thus, they certainly require enhanced safeguarding gear in the form of a PPE kit. Moreover, even common people, in particular situations such as caring for corona positive family members in hospitals or having to travel for long distances by bus, train, flight need to cover themselves in PPE to stay safe from COVID-19.
What Is PPE?
PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and in the medical and hospital industry, comprises advanced outfits and equipment worn by workers to ensure their security, welfare against infectious diseases. Consisting of head covers, hand gloves, full-length gowns, shoes, eye protectors, specialised masks and respirators, PPE kits help healthcare employees avoid coming in direct contact with microbial pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, besides contaminated body fluids like blood.
Moreover, PPE kits are not made exclusively only for healthcare personnel but are manufactured for several purposes. This is primarily to protect workers in all professions from occupational health hazards and avert injuries from perilous physical, chemical, heat/inflammable and electrical materials, besides pollutants, biohazards and airborne particulate matter. People in jobs such as chemical plant operators, mining industry workers, waste collection and disposal sectors, construction units, burial ground labourers etc. are examples of non-healthcare activities wherein PPE kits are necessary.
Types Of PPE:
In the healthcare environment and other high-risk professions, all organs of the workers, such as the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, face, head, hair, neck, body, hands and feet are constantly exposed to detrimental substances and pathogens. Hence, distinct types of PPE are manufactured, to shield the employees completely and reduce the risk of confronting any injuries or hazards. These comprise:
- Eye Protection of safety glasses, impact goggles
- Respiratory Protection consisting of surgical masks, respirators
- Face Protection with face shields
- Head Protection with helmets, hard hats
- Hand Protection with gloves, wrist cuffs
- Body Protection of gowns, full-body suits
- Hearing Protection with ear plugs, noise bands, acoustic foams
- Foot Protection with safety boots, concealed shoes
- Height And Access Protection of body harnesses, fall-arrest systems
Guidelines On Uses Of PPE Or Personal Protective Equipment In Curbing The Spread Of COVID-19:
Since COVID-19 is fundamentally an infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract that is transmitted by SARS-CoV-2 virus particles passed on from a sick to a healthy person, PPE kits offer umpteen benefits in shielding healthcare personnel from coronavirus.
Official guidelines regarding the proper use of PPE kits to stop the spread of COVID-19 among healthcare workers have been enlisted by key global associations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and The United States Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC). Even the central health organisation in India, the Ministry Of Health And Family Welfare (MoHFW) details the appropriate uses of PPE kits to effectively halt COVID-19 disease transmission. These include:
- Face shields and goggles with flexible frames that entirely seal the skin and the eyes
- Masks of specific type – triple layer medical mask and an N-95 respirator mask to avoid the passage of viral particles via nasal tract
- Hand gloves of good quality and nitrile or latex material
- Coveralls and gowns to protect the body when handling COVID positive patients
- Shoes made from impermeable material to completely cover the feet and prevent exposure to contaminants
- Head covers to conceal hair and head of healthcare workers from coming in direct contact with viral particles
Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that COVID-appropriate behaviour of frequent hand sanitizing and maintaining social distancing of at least 1 – 2 meters from infected patients must be adhered to by workers wherever possible even in a healthcare setting, to prevent acquiring COVID-19.