Personal Protective Equipment, commonly referred to as PPE, is special equipment worn to minimize and prevent exposure to biohazards in the workplace. All personnel must receive biosafety training to ensure they understand what appropriate PPE is required for work in facilities at each biosafety level and how to properly handle PPE.
Personal protective equipment should fit comfortably and provide ease of movement. If the equipment does not fit an individual properly, it can expose them to hazardous chemicals or biological agents.
When is PPE Necessary?
As you’ll learn in our biosafety training course (Control of Biohazards Course), personal protective equipment is necessary whenever an individual is working with biohazardous materials or substances in a laboratory setting. For BSL-1 facilities, standard safety equipment usually consists of lab coats or gowns, long-sleeve nitrile gloves, and eye protection. BSL-2 workplaces require these basics plus a biosafety cabinet and possibly face masks or respirators.
Those working in BSL-3 labs require extra biosafety training to ensure they are prepared for work with microorganisms that can be transmitted by the respiratory route. Negative pressure respirators or positive air supply respirators (PAPRs) may be required for work outside of biosafety cabinets. BSL-4, the highest level, requires all work to be performed with glove ports in a sealed Class III biosafety cabinet line or while wearing a full body, HEPA-filtered air-supplied positive pressure suit for work in Class II biosafety cabinets.
What are the Limitations of PPE?
Though personal protective equipment is designed for your safety, it’s important to use the knowledge you’ve gained through experience and biosafety training to determine whether PPE is appropriate for your work. PPE can restrict movement and also reduce your field of vision. Depending on the length of time you’re wearing PPE, you can also experience fatigue or dehydration.
Personal protective equipment can make a difference between keeping you safe or spreading a biohazard throughout your workplace. The Control of Biohazards biosafety training course provides you current biosafety practices and procedures. Call (410) 961-6638 for more information about our course.