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Personal Protective Equipment

Course Number: 483

Selecting and Using PPE

The CDC issues recommendations for when, what, and how PPE should be used to prevent exposure to infectious pathogens.1-5 OSHA issues and enforces workplace health and safety regulations. OSHA regulations require that employers provide their employees with appropriate PPE and to ensure that PPE is properly disposed of, or if reusable, that it is properly cleaned or laundered, repaired, and stored.2 The objective of the following sections is to provide information on the selection and use of PPE in oral healthcare settings.

When selecting PPE three key elements need to be considered. First, the type of anticipated exposure, e.g., direct contact with blood or OPIM; or exposure to splash, spatter, spray; or inhalation of airborne microorganisms in droplets or droplet nuclei suspended in air. Second, what is the durability and appropriateness of the PPE for the task, i.e., what is the barrier’s effectiveness? The third is the fit. PPE must fit the individual user, and it is up to the employer to ensure that all PPE are available in sizes appropriate for the workforce to be protected.2