COVID-19: Managing Your Operations - A Discussion About PPE [Videocast]
[HOST] Welcome to today’s videocast which is part of a series on Managing Your Operations in a COVID-19 World. I am your host, Jesse Matthews. Each videocast in this series, we focus on specific topics that have been on many of our minds as businesses resume operations. In this discussion, we’ll focus on personal protective equipment commonly referred to as PPE.
Today I have two panelists joining me, Joe David and Torey McLaren, both Industrial Hygiene Specialists with Travelers Risk Control organization. Thank you both for joining me today. Let’s jump right into the discussion.
[HOST] Let’s start at the top, what are the different face coverings and what is considered PPE?
[SPEAKER 1] PPE is really any equipment that workers use to protect themselves from hazards in the work environment…such as a filtering facepiece respirator that protects a worker from inhalation hazards such as metal fumes from welding tasks. In the COVID-19 world, PPE has been used as a term to refer to face coverings. And face coverings is a broad term and can include cloth coverings, surgical masks, face shields, and for health care settings, N95 filtering facepiece respirators. For this discussion we are referring to face coverings worn by the general workforce to aid in preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes of COVID-19.
[SPEAKER 2] So, the face covering is a means to help prevent transmission since proper use interrupts the pathway of droplet transmission when the wearer is talking, coughing or sneezing.
[HOST] Interesting Torey – can you expand on how the covering interrupts the transmission?
[SPEAKER 2] Face coverings are meant to protect OTHER people in the event that the wearer is infected. Remember that people can be infected with the virus and be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. So a seemingly healthy person can still be expelling the virus when they talk, sneeze, or cough…The CDC recommends that everyone wear a cloth face covering when they are in public and can’t practice physical distancing. Public may also include the work place and is not limited to community spaces.
[HOST] If employees are wearing face coverings, do they still need to worry about practicing physical distancing?
[SPEAKER 2] Oh yes, absolutely. Face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing. Employees should always practice physical distancing even if they are wearing face coverings.
[HOST] Now that we understand the face covering, let’s discuss donning and doffing face coverings……Walk us through the method for putting the face covering on and taking it off. Torey, maybe you can start us off with the donning process.
Wash your hands before putting on your face covering.
- Position the covering over the mouth and nose…..and avoid actually touching your face…….this takes some practice!
- Secure the straps comfortably to your head while holding the covering in place
- Wash your hands AGAIN!
[HOST] It seems the more I see people on the sidewalks and in stores the more I see different ways they wear the face covering, I see a lot of people with it pulled down only covering their mouth but their nose is exposed, even I know that doesn’t look right.
[SPEAKER 2] Yes, you’re right about that. There are several resources, including from CDC and OSHA, that show the appropriate use of face covering and need to cover your nose and mouth.
[SPEAKER 2] It’s also important to pay attention to how to REMOVE face coverings. This should be done in a specific order to prevent contamination from the face covering itself. So, when removing a face covering, people should wash their hands first. Always wash your hands first! Then, remove the face covering and put it somewhere safe, where no one else can touch it, until you reuse or launder it. And again…..you know what I’m going to say……, wash your hands.
[HOST] People also seem to be getting creative, I’ve seen a lot of people using bandanas as face coverings. That doesn’t seem very official. Are bandanas acceptable?
[SPEAKER 1] Yes, in the COVID-19 world, bandanas can be an acceptable face covering if properly worn. BUT, I’ve seen workers use bandanas to cover their nose and mouth on a road crew when cutting concrete. In the case of the road crew, bandanas do NOT protect the wearer from inhalation hazards arising from contaminants associated with the work they’re doing, like airborne silica dust from cutting concrete.
[HOST] The discussion wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk about PPE for the hands. Can you share some thoughts on use of gloves?
[SPEAKER 1] Let’s start by clarifying that gloves are NOT a substitute for thorough and frequent hand washing…..In fact, gloves may actually give people a false sense of protection. Infectious materials can contaminate the gloves just like they can contaminate your hands…….. and those contaminants can be transferred if you then touch your face with a dirty glove. Also, when you take your gloves off….you have to use your hands…..if the gloves are contaminated, your hands can then become contaminated. Torey, do you mind demonstrating how to properly remove gloves?
[SPEAKER 1] walks through steps:
- Pinch and hold the outside of the glove near the wrist area.
- Peel away from the wrist, turning the glove inside out.
- Pull the glove away until it is removed from the hand and hold the inside-out glove with the gloved hand.
- With your un-gloved hand, slide your finger/s under the wrist of the remaining glove, taking care not to touch the outside of the glove.
- Again, peel away from the wrist, turning the glove inside out.
- Continue to pull the glove down and over the inside-out glove being held in your gloved hand.
- This will ensure that both gloves are inside out, one glove enveloped inside the other, with no contaminant on the bare hands.
- Wash your hands!
In fact, it is a common practice for healthcare professionals to thoroughly wash their hands after removing gloves.
[HOST] I heard you mention two other topics….. physical distancing and hand hygiene practices – for our listeners, we have two additional videocasts regarding these topics as part of this series.
[HOST] This has been a great discussion regarding PPE. And you have given listeners a lot of good things to think about as businesses resume operations. Thank you for listening and stay tuned for other videocasts in this series. Please also remember Travelers has additional resources for COVID-19 to help support and guide you and your organizations.