Personal Protective Equipment

This guidance is meant to be used by workers who perform non-medical functions and do not have regular contact with vulnerable populations such as the elderly. Examples of business types and facility types are grocery stores, restaurants, banks, schools, offices and other retail establishments. The use of PPE should be a supplement to employee health monitoring, social distancing practices, hand washing hygiene and frequent environmental cleaning.

Who needs PPE?

Anyone who works in areas that are shared with other workers or the public should have, at minimum, respiratory protection such as a face covering and hand protection such as gloves. Additional PPE such as an apron and safety glasses should be worn by those whose primary job is to perform functions such as cleaning kitchens and bathrooms.

What kind of PPE can be used?

Acceptable PPE are cloth face coverings that can be washed and reused. Disposable face masks such as N95s or surgical paper masks that are worn by healthcare workers are not necessary or recommended. Gloves can be of the reusable type as well. Gloves routinely used in households for washing dishes or cleaning bathrooms are acceptable and can be cleaned and disinfected daily, dried and reused. Acceptable aprons can be cloth or plastic reusable types that can be washed.

How much PPE should a facility have available for its workers?

Since most workers will be using some sort of PPE, employers should assess the amount of PPE needed by:

  • Counting the number of employees that they have
  • Assessing the type of work that each employee or groups of employees will be performing
  • Detemining the PPE items that each employee will need each day
  • Doing the math and making sure that there is at least that amount of PPE available each day

Employers should also take into consideration PPE needs if they routinely have contactors or outside visitors such as delivery or sales persons.

Who is responsible for providing adequate PPE for employees?

In general, employers are responsible for providing adequate PPE to protect workers. In the case of reusable PPE, employees may want to take on the responsibility of maintaining their own PPE, taking the items home to wash. That is acceptable. However, the employer must have extra PPE items available for those employees who forget to bring theirs or who choose not to maintain their own PPE. Employers must also have some sort of brief training about the use of PPE that should include why PPE should be used, how to maintain the PPE and how often PPE should be changed, depending on the tasks being performed.

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