PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru

PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR

Workplace Safety and PPE for Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare workers and other health professionals, such as those who work in nursing homes, dental practices or veterinary clinics have a duty to manage both their own safety and that of their patients and clients.

Healthcare workers are a very high-risk group due to the nature of their work. They are constantly exposed to a wide range of risks, be it from clients with infectious diseases or contaminated work areas, among others.

Risks in the health sector

Within the healthcare sector there are many types of occupational hazards. The most common risks associated with the healthcare industry are biological, chemical, physical and ergonomic risks.

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Biological risks

From handling or contact with biological agents (fungi, bacteria, viruses or parasites) or infectious or contagious fluids.

The routes of entry for these agents can be respiratory, digestive, skin contact or parenteral.

Chemical hazards through contact

Contact with harmful, toxic or corrosive substances in the form of fragments, particles, gases, vapours or liquids. By substances such as chemical waste and other hazardous substances that can cause chronic degenerative diseases.

The most common types of chemical hazards in the healthcare sector are inhalation of anaesthetic agents, sterilising agents, alcohols, aldehydes, cytostatic agents, endocrine disruptors, metals, medical waste or asbestos in installations, etc.

Physical risks

  • From exposure to radiation and electromagnetic energy, vibrations or harmful noise.
  • Risk of cuts and injuries from clinical objects or instruments like needles and scalpels.
  • Getting trapped, for example, in radio diagnostic machines or operating theatre equipment.

Ergonomic risks

  • Due to the manual handling of loads, poor posture, forced movements, sitting for long periods, sudden movements or intensive screen usage.
  • Risks of overexertion from lifting and moving patients, slips, trips and falls, and impacts against moving objects such as beds or equipment.
PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru

PPE in the healthcare sector

Due to the number of occupational hazards, personal protective equipment (PPE) plays a very important role in the daily life of healthcare professionals, helping to not only protect their own health and safety but that of their patients as well.

They must be used in conjunction with an adequate risk management plan and collective protective equipment.

PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru
PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru
PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru
PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru
PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru
PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru
PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru

Protective gloves

Due to the fact that health and care workers hands are exposed to such a wide variety of risks, they often need to use different types of hand protection, hazards can include:

  • Cuts or grazes from sharp instruments, such as hypodermic needles or scalpels.
  • Getting hands or fingers trapped in moving medical machinery.
  • Contact with chemical or biological agents (viruses, bacteria, etc.) that can be in the form of liquids, gases or vapour.

In addition, certain gloves for healthcare workers may be considered both personal protective equipment (PPE) and a medical device (MD). These are called dual-use products.

Dual-use gloves are designed to prevent the transmission of contaminants to patients and healthcare workers simultaneously.

There is a distinction between medical examination gloves, which may or may not be sterile, and surgical gloves, which are sterile.

Two gloves are often used in cases of contact with patient fluids, they should disposed of correctly and changed once contaminated.

PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru

The most common materials used in healthcare gloves are:

  • Latex – barrier against bloodborne pathogens and other infectious agents.
  • Polyisoprene – alternative to latex, protection against microorganisms, fluids and certain chemicals.
  • Nitrile – resistance to chemicals, biological agents and punctures or scratches.
  • Vinyl – for short-duration tasks, higher permeability and lower resistance than latex and nitrile.

Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

Respiratory protection is important to protect the user against the inhalation of harmful gases, particles or vapours, from dangerous medicines and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

When looking for a disposable face mask or reusable respirator mask, the mask must be certified and approved, it should also be comfortable and fit well without leaving any gaps.

Quality is very important, always opt for well-known brands Moldex or JSP to ensure a greater return on investment.

The most common respiratory protectors are:

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Particulate filtering face masks

  • Reusable (R).
  • Disposable (NR).
  • With or without an exhalation valve.
  • Protection levels FFP1, FFP2, FFP3 (according to EN 149:2001+A1:2009).

Every mask must be chosen according to the risks that the user is exposed to.

Half mask or full-face respirators with filters

Reusable masks with replaceable filters. P1, P2, P3.

All models should be compatible with other types of PPE.

Depending on the filter, they may offer protection against gases, organic or inorganic vapours, acids, ammonia, solid or liquid particles, among other risks.

"These types of respiratory protection are vital in the healthcare industry with cases of possible respiratory infections."

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Eye protection

Did you know infectious diseases can be transmitted through the eyes?

Healthcare workers are constantly exposed to splashes, droplets and projections of biological and chemical agents that could result in infection or injury.

Protective eyewear must offer the perfect balance between protection and comfort. Always look for safety eyewear that is certified, lightweight and has a wide field of vision.

In addition, protection with fog-resistant lenses is highly recommended it helps avoid constant fogging, which can be inconvenient and dangerous in certain situations. Anti-fog treatments prevent the wearer from having to clean the lenses continuously.

PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru

There are various different options in terms of eye protection (applicable standard: EN 166:2001):

  • Safety glasses – great ventilation, lightweight and comfortable. Some models have adjustable temples or arms for a secure fit.
  • Safety goggles – closed frame, panoramic vision and the best option in terms of protection. Some goggles can also be used with prescription glasses.
  • Safety over glasses – the most comfortable and cost-efficient option for protecting the eyes and prescription glasses at once.
  • Face shields – guarantee protection from the projection of fragments and particles to the whole face and not only the eye area.
PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru

Nursing clogs and medical shoes

Healthcare workers usually have very intense workloads, they can work shifts of up to 24 hours and are typically on their feet for many hours.

Furthermore, their feet are also at risk from cuts, slips, trips and falls, getting trapped, impacts from heavy falling objects as well as infections and injuries from biological or chemical agents, etc.

When it comes to footwear for medical professionals, it’s important to ensure they are certified, closed, anatomical and antibacterial.

PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru

They should also offer resistance to perforations from sharp objects. It’s important that they are washable and waterproof to maintain hygiene and protect the user in the event of contact with fluids.

Work clogs and medical footwear should be comfortable in order to prevent fatigue and they must also have slip resistant soles (SRC) and a secure fit to avoid slips and trips.

More protection may be required in certain situations, when this is the case, healthcare workers are required to use safety footwear in the form of safety boots, safety shoes or safety clogs.

This type of footwear is used to prevent accidents and injuries and they have a higher level of protection against crushing, punctures, sprains, cuts and scrapes, etc.

Nursing scrubs, lab coats and medical uniforms

Healthcare workers are known for their clean and hygienic image, they need to convey professionalism and reassurance to their patients from the outset.

Healthcare uniforms and clothing should be modern and stylish, but above everything, they must be ergonomic, breathable and comfortable.

PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru

As with any medical device, they should ensure the safety of both patients and professionals. Clothing should offer protection against germs, biological agents or microorganisms, among other hazards. It’s very important medical clothing is made of lightweight and flexible materials, so that they do not restrict movement.

There are various types of protective clothing, with different levels of leakage protection and coverage, e.g. full body suits, gowns, aprons, scrubs, etc. In some cases, it may be necessary for the clothing to be fully sealed, with seams and zips that close completely.

Ear protection

The use of machinery and electrical devices such as MRI scanners can cause noise exposure that may result in permanent hearing loss, headaches, nausea or fatigue, among others.

The protection required depends on the level of noise (which is measured in decibels or dB) and the length of exposure.

PERSONAL PROTECTION IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR | Safeguru

It’s important to choose the right level of protection and not to overprotect, always ensuring that the user can still communicate with patients and other staff.

There are two options, each with different levels of protection:

Ear plugs – reusable or disposable, with or without a safety cord (EN 352-2).

Ear muffs – with an overhead band (EN 352-1).

Do you need help choosing the right type of personal protective equipment?

Call 01422 774376 from 9:00 to 17:30 or send an email to customer@safeguru.co.uk.

A member of our team will get back to you shortly.

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