Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) maintains a barrier between you and any potentially infectious material.  A hazard assessment is to be performed to determine the risks posed by a task and the necessary precautions and PPE to use to avoid exposure.   PPE must be readily accessible and appropriate for the tasks performed. All PPE is supplied by WSU at no charge to the employee.

General rules to follow:

  • Always wear the assigned PPE in exposure situations.
  • Remove PPE that is torn or punctured, or has lost its ability to function as a barrier to bloodborne pathogens and replaced with intact PPE.
  • Remove PPE before leaving the work area.

Types of PPE

Gloves should be made of water impervious materials. The fact that latex gloves can trigger allergies should be taken into consideration when choosing gloves or other PPE materials. If glove material is thin or flimsy, double gloving can provide an additional layer of protection. Also, if you know you have cuts or sores on your hands, you should cover these with a bandage or similar protection before donning gloves. You should always inspect your gloves for tears or punctures before putting them on. If a glove is damaged, don’t use it! When taking used gloves, or other PPE, off make sure you do not touch the outside of your PPE with any bare skin.

Anytime there is a risk of splashing or misting of contaminated fluids, goggles or other eye protection should be used to protect your eyes.

Face Shields
Face shields may be worn in addition to goggles to provide additional face protection. A face shield will protect against splashes to the nose and mouth.  Again, bloodborne pathogens can be transmitted through the thin membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth so it is important to protect them. Splashing could occur while cleaning up a spill, during laboratory procedures, or while providing first aid or medical assistance.

Aprons/Lab Coats
Aprons, lab coats or protective suits may be worn to protect your clothing and to keep blood or other contaminated fluids from soaking through to your skin.

Foot Protection
Shoe covers may be required depending on the extent of the exposure risk.

Contaminated PPE and Clothing
Contaminated PPE and clothing should not be removed from the worksite.  Contaminated PPE and clothing should be handled as little as possible and placed in an appropriately labeled bag or container until it is decontaminated, disposed of, or laundered.  It is important to find out where these bags or containers are located in your area before beginning your work.  Normal clothing that becomes contaminated with blood should be removed as-soon-as possible because fluids can seep through the cloth and come into contact with skin.

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