Personal protective equipment
Although the principles of the hierarchical approach to control should be applied whenever practicable, there are some instances where personal protective equipment (PPE) should be considered, ie where the risk to health and safety cannot be adequately controlled by other means or it would not be reasonable to implement other control measures.
When PPE is deemed necessary, consideration should be given to the type of PPE needed, its safe use, maintenance and disposal.
Non-disposable PPE, eg, laboratory coats, overalls or aprons, must be stored appropriately, checked and kept clean and, if faulty, repaired or replaced. If PPE may be, or has been, contaminated by blood or other body fluids, it must be removed safely before leaving the workplace and kept apart from uncontaminated PPE and normal 'street' clothes. It should be cleaned and decontaminated or, if necessary, disposed of safely.
A key piece of PPE for working with BBVs is gloves, which play an important role, especially where there is risk of injury from puncture wounds from contaminated sharps.
Use of gloves
For detailed guidance, see The use of gloves.
Uniforms are not PPE as defined by the COSHH regulations but protective clothing, such as aprons, may be worn over uniforms or normal clothing to control the risk of contamination. If there is contamination of uniform or personal clothing, there should be spare clothing available for staff to use, eg disposable boiler suits, theatre scrubs, etc.
Risk assessment should identify how uniforms or protective clothing could become contaminated and how decontamination will be carried out.
- Control of substances hazardous to health (Fifth edition)
- Blood borne viruses in the workplace: Guidance for employers and employees
- Providing and using work equipment safely: A brief guide