What Are the Constituents of a PPE and Who Needs What Gear?

The highly infectious nature of the Coronavirus has everyone scrambling to get a PPE. 

PPE – Personal Protective Equipment – protects various parts of the body from catching the virus through contact.

The concept of PPE is not new, nor is it related specifically to healthcare workers only.

  • Many industries and workers use PPEs, including defense personnel. 
  • NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical- now NBRC, including Radiological) warfare scare led the defense forces to prepare a comprehensive PPE.
  • Industrial workers faced with gas leaks or nuclear accidents need to use PPEs.

PPEs help to protect various parts of the body from contracting an infection or gas or radiation. 

What all needs protection?

  • Eyes -Goggles, Face Shields
  • Face – Face Mask, Face Shields
  • Hands- Gloves – single or double-layered depending upon the level of exposure
  • Feet – Shoe covers
  • Body- impervious bodysuit
  • Head – Head Cover/ Hood.
Pic courtesy Times of India - with grateful thanks

Pic courtesy Times of India – with grateful thanks

Who needs Which Gear?

  1. Healthcare workers in COVID designated ICUs, wards – Full PPE – Hood, goggles, impervious gown, face shield, N95 mask, double-layered gloves, and shoe cover.
  2. Healthcare workers, sanitation workers in non-COVID areas, caregivers of Covid-19 patients under home isolation – Gown, face shield, gloves, N95 mask.
  3. Officials on public duty- Police, store workers, office staff with public dealing, etc- 3 ply mask, face shield, gloves, hand sanitizer. Offices with the open desk between customers and staff must install a Plexiglas sheet to prevent droplet transmission from spreading.
  4. People at large coming out of homes – 3 Ply mask/ double-layered washable cloth mask,  face shield if in public transport – Metro, aircraft, etc, gloves (optional) and hand sanitizer. 

PPEs are cumbersome, uncomfortable, prevent easy movement, cause sweating, and are generally very poorly tolerated. It is difficult to operate complex machinery with full PPE. Persons not used to wearing a mask and those who are claustrophobic find it difficult to wear a mask. A mask, however, if not worn covering the nose and face is of no use. 

Buy Genuine PPEs

Due to a sudden increase in requirements, many unscrupulous players have entered the market and are selling substandard PPEs. To be certain you are buying the right standard PPE look for SITRA certification (South Indian Textile Research Association, Coimbatore). To check whether a coverall suit is SITRA certified kindly follow this link- 

PPE kits explained by Dr Rajesh Bhardwaj

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