WoundReference improves clinical decisions
 Choose the role that best describes you
WoundReference logo

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Overview

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Overview

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Overview



It is essential for all workplaces that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are to be made available to all workers as this plays a crucial role in keeping the health and safety of the workers and this holds even more essential for hazard prone workplaces. This PPE overview introduces the fundamental concepts and importance of PPE in the medical field. 

Healthcare settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices, dental clinics, blood banks, veterinary clinics, and research labs, produce various kinds of medical waste. Healthcare professionals might encounter these wastes directly in their role, whether they are involved in patient care, housekeeping, maintenance, or other tasks. It is important to note that some medical waste can pose health risks. This topic aims to outline the potential dangers associated with medical waste, guide healthcare professionals on how to safeguard themselves against exposure, and detail the steps necessary to protect themselves and their colleagues from these risks.

Upon reading this topic, healthcare professionals will learn the following:
  • Understand the purpose and importance of PPE in the workplace.
  • Identify different types of PPE and their specific uses.
  • Learn how to properly select, fit, and use PPE.
  • Understand the maintenance, inspection, and storage requirements for PPE.
  • Recognize the importance of training and employee responsibilities regarding PPE usage.



  • PPE is the abbreviated from Personal Protective Equipment.[1]
  • PPE refers to equipment worn to minimize hazards that may result in serious injuries and illnesses in the workplace.[1]
  • Hazards may either be chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or of other types. [1]


PPE plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and well-being of healthcare workers in medical workplaces. Below are some key points highlighting its importance [2]:
  • Protection Against Infections
    • PPE (such as gloves, masks, gown, and eye protection) provides protection for healthcare workers from infectious agents and reduces risk of exposure to pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
  • Prevention of Cross-Contamination
    • The spread of infection between healthcare workers, patients and the surrounding environment can be prevented by the proper usage of PPE.
  • Protection from chemical splashes, sharp objects and airborne particles, as well as minimizing the risk of injuries and illnesses.
  • Proper compliance with regulatory standards set by organizations such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as well as promote a safe working environment.
  • Improve confidence and efficiency of healthcare workers protected with proper PPE.
  • Pandemic preparedness during pandemics and outbreaks of infectious diseases and prevent healthcare associated infections and control the spread of diseases within healthcare facilities.

Video 1. What is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Types of PPE in Healthcare

  • Gloves
    • Used to protect hands and allow efficient removal of foreign organisms from washed areas.
  • Gowns and Aprons
    • Protects the skin and clothing
  • Face masks 
    • Protect mucous membranes of the face, mouth and nose
  • Respirators
    • Prevent inhalation of infectious material.
  • Goggles
    • Used to protect eyes
  • Face shields 
    • Used to protect mucous membranes of face, mouth, nose and eyes

PPE Selection

There are two criteria needed in determining which PPEs are needed:
  • Degree of protection required.
  • Appropriateness of the equipment to the situation (including the practicality of the equipment being used and kept in good repair).
The following are guidelines for selection of PPE:
  • Match PPE to the Hazard
    • Choose PPE according to the hazards. In cases where workers are exposed to two or more different hazards, it is necessary to use multiple types of PPE.
  • Obtain advice
    • PPE are to be selected based on thorough risk assessment, work acceptance and types of PPE available. Discuss your needs with trained sales representatives and ask for recommendations. (Ask for alternatives and check into product claims and test data as well as try out PPE and test if the equipment meets all requirements). 
  • Involve workers in evaluations
    • Involve the individual workers in the selection process, they should select among 2 or 3 models allowing for personal preference.
  • Consider physical comfort of PPE (ergonomics)
    • It is important that the user is comfortable when using PPE and it should not impede their work when worn.
  • Evaluate cost considerations
    • Ensure that the PPE is cost effective and good for long term use.
  • Review standards
    • Performance requirements of all standards must be reviewed to ensure that exposure to injury will be minimized or eliminated by using PPE.  If PPE is exposed to hazards greater than those for which it is designed, it will not deliver adequate protection.


Refer to CDC's handout on "Sequence for Putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and How to Safely Remove Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Don before contact with the patient, generally before entering the room
  • Remove PPE in the right order and discard PPE carefully
  • After doffing, immediately perform hand hygiene (see Video 2 below)
  • Do not wear the same gown and gloves for the care of more than one person

Video 2. Educate: Developing Knowledge and Skill in Hand Hygiene by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Maintenance and Inspection

Perform regular maintenance and inspections in order to assure the effectiveness of PPE. 
  • PPE maintenance should include the following:
    • Inspection
    • Care
    • Cleaning
    • Repair
    • Proper Storage
  • The most important part of maintenance is its continuity of the PPE’s inspections. A carefully performed inspection can identify damaged or malfunctioning PPE before being used.
  • Procedures should be set up to allow workers to get new PPE or replacement parts for damaged PPE and help keep them clean.

Training and Responsibilities

Regular training and education to ensure PPE is used effectively should be conducted. The training should cover the following:
  • How to fit and wear PPE
  • How to adjust for maximum protection
  • How to take care of PPE
  • How to don and remove PPE in the correct order so as to minimize contamination
    • Hand hygiene should be performed before donning and after removing PPE
Official reprint from WoundReference® woundreference.com ©2024 Wound Reference, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Use of WoundReference is subject to the Subscription and License Agreement. ​
NOTE: This is a controlled document. This document is not a substitute for proper training, experience, and exercising of professional judgment. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents, neither the authors nor the Wound Reference, Inc. give any guarantee as to the accuracy of the information contained in them nor accept any liability, with respect to loss, damage, injury or expense arising from any such errors or omissions in the contents of the work.


  1. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC). Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Coaching and Training Frontline Health Care Professionals . 2023;.
  2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Personal Protective Equipment .;.
Topic 2439 Version 1.0


Latex AllergyIntroductionA NIOSH Alert, Preventing Allergic Reactions to Natural Rubber Latex in the Workplace [NIOSH 1997], outlines many of the safety and health issues related to occupational exposure to products that contain natural rubber latex (NRL). This chapter includes information from the Alert as well as from other mate- rial useful to healthcare workers. Unless oth- erwise cited, the material in this chapter is from the Alert.In this chapter, latex means N


Musculoskeletal Disorders and Ergonomic InterventionsIntroductionAll healthcare workers who lift and move patients are at high risk for back injury and other musculoskeletal disorders [Owen 1999; Waters et al. 2006]. A work-related musculoskeletal disorder is an injury of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, joints, cartilage, bones, or blood vessels in the extremities or back that is caused or aggravated by work tasks such as lifting, pushing, and pulling [Orr 1997]

Occupational StressIntroductionHome healthcare work involves challenges that are not present in hospital or other in- patient healthcare settings. Not many stud- ies have looked into stress levels of home healthcare workers, but the few studies that have show that home healthcare may be quite stressful. The home setting may in- volve stressors, such as lack of control over work planning, that are risks for shoulder and neck pain, especially when combined with physical risk f

Violence in The WorkplaceIntroductionServing patients in the community is the essence of home healthcare. Yet, the com- munity setting makes home healthcare pro- viders more vulnerable to violent assaults. Home healthcare workers face an unpro- tected and unpredictable environment each time they enter the patient’s community and home. According to estimates of the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) [BLS 2007a], 330 nonfatal assaults on home healt

Exposure to Other Hazards7.1 Introduction

Handling Medical WasteOverviewHealthcare settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices, dental clinics, blood banks, veterinary clinics, and research labs, produce various kinds of medical waste. As someone working in healthcare, you might encounter these wastes directly in your role, whether you're involved in patient care, housekeeping, maintenance, or other tasks. It's important to note that some medical waste can pose health risks. This training aims to outline the potenti