What is PPE?
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is apparel designed to keep the wearer safe from infection, particularly from airborne diseases or biohazards. PPE can include face masks, which cover the nose and mouth and can be made from single-use microplastics or reusable fabrics such as polyester or cotton; face shields, which are made from clear plastic and cover the entire face; isolation gowns, which cover the entire body and can be made of disposable or reusable, washable materials; and surgical caps, which cover the head and hold in the hair.
What are the 4 PPE Levels?
In the US, there are four levels of personal protective equipment.
Level 4 (or A) protection is the highest level of protection. It is required when there is a high risk of exposure to hazards and offers the greatest level of protection for the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Some examples of Level 4 PPE include self-contained breathing apparatuses, totally encapsulated protective suits, and inner and outer chemical-resistant gloves.
Level 3 (or B) protection PPE is required when there is a need for the highest level of respiratory protection, but when skin protection is less crucial. Some examples of Level 3 PPE include self-contained breathing apparatuses, inner and outer chemical-resistant gloves, face shields, coveralls, and outer chemical-resistant boots.
Level 2 (or C) protection PPE is required when the concentration and type of airborne substances are known, and air-purifying respirators are being used. Some Level 2 equipment examples include full-face respirators, inner and outer chemical-resistant gloves, and escape masks.
Level 1 (or D) protection PPE is the minimum protection required and may be sufficient when no contaminants are present. Level 1 equipment can include safety glasses, coveralls, and face shields.
Who Needs PPE?
Individuals working in environments where they may be exposed to potential airborne contaminants or other hazardous materials require PPE. These individuals include staff working in healthcare settings such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, as well as those providing at-home care to patients or loved ones.
As the COVID-19 virus remains an issue of concern, it is recommended that everyone wears a face mask that covers their nose and mouth when interacting with other individuals in enclosed spaces as well as outdoors when a distance of six feet is not possible. According to the CDC, reusable face masks, which are face masks made of fabric, should be triple-ply to effectively help protect the wearer from the COVID-19 virus.
Types of PPE Used in Healthcare
The types of PPE used in healthcare are generally in the lower levels, as healthcare environments do not involve significant exposure to highly toxic or hazardous chemicals; instead, healthcare professionals and caregivers are protecting themselves from biohazards, such as viruses and bacteria. To protect themselves from such hazards, healthcare professionals may use isolation gowns, which prevent liquids and other substances from coming into contact with their clothing, as well as face masks, which prevent healthcare professionals from breathing in airborne contaminants such as viruses or bacteria.
How to Choose PPE
The type of PPE you need will depend on your working environment. Healthcare providers may require isolation gowns to protect themselves and their clothing from biohazards. The MIP Cares reusable isolation gown meets Level 2 requirements and is guaranteed for 75 washes, making it a reliable and eco-friendly PPE choice.
Recommendations for Using PPE
Healthcare professionals and other individuals using PPE should ensure the equipment is worn correctly. MIP Cares’ isolation gown features a wrap-around design, ensuring full-body coverage.