PPE in the Workplace: 5 Important Steps of Proper PPE Disposal
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is now a part of daily life. If you’ve implemented a personal protective equipment plan in your workplace, you’re likely searching for guidelines for proper PPE disposal. While it’s something else for operations leaders to focus on, PPE in the workplace is proven to be effective.
A recent study looked at 100 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and measured the presence of the virus in droplet and aerosol form. When patients were wearing masks, they didn’t exhale any coronavirus aerosols or droplets, adding to the body of evidence asserting that wearing masks effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Now that you know you must put a protective equipment plan into action, how are you planning to handle PPE disposal?
Keep reading to learn more about using PPE in the workplace and best practices when disposing of the contaminated materials.
What Is Personal Protective Equipment?
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is worn to minimize one’s exposure to hazards that can cause serious workplace illnesses and injuries.
These illnesses and injuries may result from contact with radiological, chemical, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other hazards. PPE may include safety glasses, gloves, earplugs or muffs, respirators, hard hats, coveralls, full body suits, and vests.
Ensuring Proper Use
All PPE should be safely designed and constructed and maintained reliably and cleanly.
PPE should fit comfortably to encourage worker use. If it doesn’t fit properly, it can mean the difference between being adequately and safely covered or severely exposed.
When work practices, engineering, and administrative controls do not provide sufficient protection, you must provide PPE to your employees and ensure that they use it properly.
You’re also required to train workers who must use personal protective equipment to know:
- What kind is necessary
- When it is necessary
- How to properly put it on, wear, adjust, and take it off
- Limitations of the PPE
- Proper maintenance and care, useful life, and disposal
If you implement a plan to use PPE in your work environment, a program should be executed. It should address the hazards present in the workplace, the selection and use of PPE, employee training, and the plan’s monitoring to ensure ongoing effectiveness.
Implement Best Practices
Once you’ve created your PPE plan, purchase your equipment, and put it into action. It’s time to implement best practices and observe your employees and improve your plan down the road if needed.
Ensure Good Fit
First, work with your employees to ensure they know how PPE is designed to fit. If they misuse it, it won’t effectively protect the employee and those around them.
Take the time to measure each member of your team and identify which type of PPE they’ll need. When more than one type is required, make sure each item is compatible with the others.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has put forth engineering guidelines around various hazards found on job sites. Make sure you purchase PPE that adheres to these standards.
Invest in Automated Vending Machines
Make it easy for your employees to purchase or access PPE by installing PPE vending machines. Sure, the cost upfront is more, but you’ll save money, time and possibly lives in the long run.
Train your employees on how to use the machines, so they don’t waste any PPE. You’ll also need to designate an employee or team to manage the machines, so they’re always stocked and running properly.
Audit Your Equipment Continuously
Personal protective equipment is the last line of defense for you and your employees. For this reason, respect your PPE regularly to be sure it is effective at all times.
Some employees will be stubborn about wearing PPE, so instead of punishing them for not wearing it properly, ask what the problem is. Sometimes equipment makes it uncomfortable or difficult to do their job. Maybe there is something more practical and wearable that will do the job.
Create a Safety Culture Around PPE
Eventually, safe PPE practices should become part of your company’s culture. Don’t just train your employees on how to wear it, but communicate why PPE is important.
And don’t stop there. Look for new opportunities to allow your workers to guide and mentor their peers in a positive manner. Consider a PPE donning activity during a company talk or new employee mentorship program.
Perform Regular Inspections
PPE isn’t designed to last forever. You regularly audit and inspect other areas of your business for safety, so it’s equally important to conduct these regular inspections of your personal protective equipment.
Safe PPE Disposal
If personal protective equipment isn’t disposed of correctly, it can introduce more harm than good.
Imagine an employee touching potentially contaminated PPE and then going about their day, touching door handles and other surfaces. All of a sudden, the disease runs rampant throughout your organization.
The World Health Organization recommends that gloves, face masks, and paper tissues should be hygienically disposed of in a closed bin once removed safely.
Set your employees up for success by making sure you have the right facilities in place for PPE disposal:
- Show employees and visitors that you care by offering easy PPE disposal at your workplace
- Incorporate touch-free closed bins for high standards of hygiene
- Treat each unit with EPA registered, hospital-grade disinfectant to kill potentially harmful viruses
- Place disposal points throughout high-traffic areas of your facility, such as entrance and exit points, parking garages, near elevators, kitchens, lobbies, and more.
Consult OSHA Guidelines
OSHA’s Safety Health and Program Management Guidelines provide recommendations for you to consider as you build your PPE program. The guidelines cover four main areas, including:
- Management leadership and employee involvementÂ
- Worksite analysis
- Safety and health training
- Hazard prevention and control
Are You Well-Stocked With Workplace PPE?
All businesses should review their current PPE disposal procedures to ensure they’re taking appropriate steps to manage risk and hazards.
Stay one step ahead and ensure that your business is adequately protected with all of the necessary hygienic facilities onsite. Then do your due diligence to dispose of contaminated PPE properly with MedSharps.
If you’re not a current MedSharps customer and would like to request a free quote, fill out our online form or call. (888) 620-4899 today.