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Select and Wear Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for Work in Healthcare Settings


IMPORTANT: This page is in rough draft mode. We consider it to be unfinished so the detail may be less than that of a fully-completed page and it may contain errors. However, it should hopefully give you some pointers about what you need to do.

In addition, this unit was not written by us but generously donated by one of our regular visitors. Thank you.


Learning Outcome 1: Understand legislation, local policy and protocol in relation to dressing for work in a healthcare setting

1.1 – Explain organisational policies and protocols in relation to preparing and dressing for work in healthcare settings


This policy is designed for the health and safety of staff, individuals and colleagues.

All Staff will be professional in their appearance and not compromise the health, safety and security of themselves, their service users and colleagues. All employees will must:

  • Maintain professional appearance
  • Instil confidence in patients / hospital users
  • Enable easy and secure identification
  • Protect self, staff and patients from trauma/injury caused by jewellery and badges and wearing of personal and protective equipment
  • Promote health, safety and security
  • Minimise cross infection
  • Name badges / Photo Identification / Security badge, Must be worn at all times, clearly visible

Only the following items of jewellery are permitted to be worn:

  • Wedding ring
  • Earrings: gold

1.2a – Explain standard precautions for infection prevention and control which affect own practice in: preparing for work


Everyone who works in a healthcare setting must always present a professional image, regardless of their role, or whether or not they wear a uniform. They should come to work neat and tidy, and have a good standard of personal hygiene. For example, their hair should be clean and their nails should be kept short and not varnished. If a uniform is worn it should allow for mobility and comfort, and naturally, be clean. Shoes should be clean, safe and practical and comply with the relevant Health and Safety Regulations.

Standard precautions are the minimum infection prevention and control practices that must be used at all times for all patients in all situations.


1.2b – Explain standard precautions for infection prevention and control which affect own practice in: dressing for work

Good hand hygiene is paramount and long sleeves prevent this. Therefore, you should be ‘bare below the elbow’.


Rings and wrist watches increase the risk of bacterial contamination and should not be worn, although an exception is made for a plain wedding band. If it is, additional care needs to be taken with hand hygiene.

If you have long hair you should tie it up neatly.


A hanging ID badge could cause injury and needs to be worn in a pocket or be below the waistline. It also needs to be cleaned.

For many tasks, such as personal care and food preparation, PPE should be worn.


1.3 – Explain how and when to cleanse own hands in line with local policy and protocol

Hand hygiene is considered one of the most important infection control measures for reducing the spread of infection.

  1. Wet hands and forearms thoroughly under warm running water and squirt liquid soap onto palm of one hand.
  2. Rub pal to palm, rub with fingers interlaced.
  3. Massage between fingers, right palm over back of left hand, left palm over back of right hand.
  4. Rub with fingers locked and rotationally with thumbs locked.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with warm running water.
  6. Dry palms and backs of hands thoroughly using a disposable towel to help remove remaining bacteria, between fingers, around and under nails.

More information on handwashing technique can found here.


We should do that:

  • at the start and finish of the working period.
  • before and after touching a client.
  • before performing a procedure and after a procedure or exposure to body fluids/substances
  • after handling used laundry and clinical waste
  • after using toilet, after removal of gloves
  • after touching the environment around a client.
  • before and after handling food, before eating, after blowing nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • whenever in doubt

Hands are the most common way of spreading infection. During the course of the day your hands will come into contact with the individual you support, colleagues and all objects in the environment, including work surfaces and door handles. Your hands will also touch your own face. Through your hands micro-organisms will be transferred, thereby risking infecting yourself and others, and spreading germs and disease. As a result, good hand hygiene is absolutely essential, and it should be emphasised that this extends a long way beyond them being visibly free of dirt.

1.4 – Explain the importance of maintaining a professional appearance and presentation


Whilst you may work in a relaxed way in order to create a positive relationship with the individual you are supporting, this doesn’t mean that you should present yourself in a casual manner. A professional appearance and presentation is reassuring to the individual you support and their family; it shows that your are serious about your work and competent at it. This presentation includes all aspects of how you conduct yourself: your communication, body language and the courtesy you show.

It should be remembered that you are not only representing yourself, but also the organisation you work for.


1.5 – Explain the importance of removing personal clothing, make up and fashion items as required by own work setting

Personal clothing, make up and fashion items should be removed for two reasons. As stated in 1.4, it is important to present yourself in a professional manner, being clean and tidy, and wearing appropriate clothing. Secondly, they can create a barrier to effective hygiene.


Learning Outcome 2: Be able to select and use personal protective equipment (PPE) in a healthcare setting

2.1 Check for the cleanliness, suitability and fit of PPE for the roles and procedures to be undertaken


Before any roles or procedures involving PPE are undertaken, you should always ensure that the equipment is clean, suitable and fits correctly.

Cleanliness checks can often be performed with a visual check and by ensuring the PPE has been stored correctly. You should also ensure the equipment is suitable for the task at hand. Finally, you should ensure that the PPE fits correctly. If something is too small or tight it could cause pain and discomfort, whilst equipment is that is too large or loose could fall off or not protect adequately.


2.2 Wear PPE in the designated work area only according to own role and procedures to be undertaken

PPE should only be used during necessary roles or procedures and should be removed after use. Similarly, it should only be used in designated areas of the workplace.


2.3 – Describe how PPE may become unsuitable for use including the actions to take if this happens

PPE should not be used just for the sake of it. An assessment should be carried out before all tasks, as to the risks involved, and if it is determined that PPE is required it should be used for that task and then safely discarded. Further use of the PPE would negate its efficacy as microorganisms would become ‘attached’ to it and result in their transmission. PPE should also be discarded if it rips or tears.


It is important not to wear gloves for a prolonged period of time, even if you do change them, as they can cause an adverse reaction to the skin. Latex allergies are becoming more common and it is therefore better to wear nitrile gloves. Latex gloves that contain a powder should not be worn because of the increased risk of allergy.

2.4 Remove and dispose of PPE in line with local policy and protocol


You should be aware of the correct way to remove PPE and how to dispose of it.

2.5 – Describe what additional protection equipment should be worn when there is a risk of aerosol blood, body fluids or radiation


A disposable apron should be worn whenever there is a possibility of contact with blood/body fluids or supporting an individual with personal hygiene tasks. A separate one should be worn for each occasion of care given to an individual and change aprons between caring for different individuals in order to prevent cross-contamination.

If there is the potential of bodily fluids reaching the eyes, nose or mouth, goggles and a facial mask should be worn. These are also needed when aerosols are used.


2.6 – Describe the importance of promptly reporting reduction in stocks of PPE

It is important to promptly report reductions in the stock of PPE so that stock can be replenished in time and you would not be have to work without PPE.


2.7 – Explain when synthetic non-powdered un-sterile gloves and apron should be used

As has been previously stated hands are the most common way of spreading infection and consequently the need for good hand hygiene. However, there are situations where hand hygiene is not enough and gloves have to be worn, as their use will reduce the transmission of microbes. If the gloves are non-sterile, they can only be used once and then must be safely discarded. Gloves should be worn:


Before an aseptic procedure

When there is the potential for contact with mucous membranes or non-intact skin, secretions, excretions, mucous membranes, or equipment/environmental surfaces contaminated with blood/body fluids.


When in contact with an individual and/or their equipment.

During food preparation


During medication administration.

Change gloves between tasks and procedures on the same patient. Gloves should be removed immediately after a procedure and hand hygiene performed so as to avoid contaminating the environment, other patients or other sites on the same patient.


Aprons should also be used during any of the above listed activities. Ensure you are “bare-below-the-elbows”.

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