Incorrect procedures for donning or doffing personal protective equipment (PPE) including safety glasses/goggles, respirators, coveralls and safety gloves can cause exposure to hazardous materials, contamination of food or other critical areas, leading to serious health ramifications.
Product Development Manager of ProChoice Safety Gear, Brad Rodgers said that the key concern is creating a barrier between wearers’ skin and contaminants, pathogens or other hazardous materials and that workers must be given the necessary tools and training.
“A PCBU has a requirement to ensure staff are trained in the effective and safe selection, use, maintenance and disposal of PPE,” Rodgers said.
He added that while both are important, the process of doffing (removing) PPE is more critical than the process of donning (putting on).
Speaking of the order in which PPE should be removed, Rodgers said it depends on what items of PPE are exposed or affected, but generally, it will be safety gloves and coveralls (being careful not to touch affected areas), goggles/safety glasses then respiratory protective equipment.
Immediately after donning or removing PPE, the hands should be washed using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, he said.
If the PPE is single-use, Rodgers said it should be disposed of. If it has been used to handle chemicals, the PPE should be disposed of in accordance with the chemical manufacturer’s recommendations.
“If it is re-usable PPE, it should be cleaned and disinfected and then stored in a cool dry place where it can be accessed and re-used again,” Rodgers said.
Incorrect doffing procedures can lead to hazardous materials exposure (touching the outside of the safety gloves) and also contamination of critical areas (doffing the glove whilst still in contact or near clean areas), Rodgers added.
“This can have serious health ramifications,” he said.
The process for donning PPE is also important, however not as critical as the process for doffing, according to Rodgers. He said gloves should be put on last, after donning coveralls, respiratory protective equipment, goggles and other PPE.
Donning PPE should also generally occur in a separate room or facility before a worker is exposed to the task environment, according to Rodgers.
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Sequence for donning (putting on) PPE (Source: CDC)
- Fully cover torso from neck to knees, arms to end of wrists, and wrap around the back.
- Fasten at the back of neck and waist
- Secure ties or elastic bands at middle of head and neck
- Fit flexible band to nose bridge
- Fit snug to face and below chin
- Fit-check respirator
- Place over face and eyes and adjust to fit
- Extend to cover wrist of isolation gown
Always use safe work practices:
- Keep hands away from face
- Limit surfaces touched
- Change gloves when torn or heavily contaminated
- Perform hand hygiene
Process for doffing (removing) PPE (Source: CDC)
Perform hand hygiene between steps if hands become contaminated and immediately after removing all PPE.
Gloves and gown
- Your gown front, sleeves and the outside of gloves are contaminated!
- If your hands get contaminated during gown or glove removal, immediately wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Grasp the gown in the front and pull away from your body so that the ties break, touching outside of gown only with gloved hands.
- While removing the gown, fold or roll the gown inside-out into a bundle.
- As you are removing the gown, peel off your gloves at the same time, only touching the inside of the gloves and gown with your bare hands. Place the gown and gloves into a waste container
Goggles/face shields/ safety glasses
- Outside of safety glasses / goggles or face shield may be contaminated!
- If your hands get contaminated during goggle or face shield removal, immediately wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Remove safety glasses/ goggles or face shield from the back by lifting headband and without touching the front of the goggles or face shield
- If the item is reusable, place in a designated receptacle for reprocessing. Otherwise, discard in a waste container
- Front of mask/respirator is contaminated — DO NOT TOUCH!
- If your hands get contaminated during mask/respirator removal, immediately wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Grasp bottom ties or elastics of the mask/respirator, then the ones at the top, and remove without touching the front
- Discard in a waste container
Don’t forget work boots may also be contaminated in some circumstances. Using an effective Job Safety Analysis tool will help you to identify any contamination of PPE.
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