Washing and disinfection of contaminated PPE
In order to ensure their effectiveness and proper functioning, it is important to remember that all too often, the danger associated with toxic substances left on equipment is overlooked. Without proper cleaning or disinfection, they can be released when PPE is removed and enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, eye contact or skin contact. This is why the cleaning and disinfection of PPE is essential.
The importance of maintenance interventions
It is important to know that the people in charge of the equipment and cleaning at the customer's site, i.e. the maintenance technicians or the QHSE managers, can control the cleaning and disinfection themselves, but it is necessary that they respect the manufacturers' recommendations, as well as the cleaning products recommended by each manufacturer.
Why is it important to clean PPE?
Ensuring the health and safety of workers
It is important to know that Personal Protective Equipment is likely to be contaminated by substances coming from the production site or from the user himself. Cleaning PPE ensures the health and safety of the user, and ensures that it functions properly.
What does the Labour Code say?
In addition, the Labor Code requires the operator to maintain his own PPE. This is why, in addition to the maintenance performed by a maintenance technician, each employee must be vigilant about the cleanliness of the PPE provided to him.
Art. L 230-3: "In accordance with the instructions given to him by the employer... it is the responsibility of each worker to take care, according to his function and training and according to his possibilities, of his safety and health as well as that of other persons concerned as a result of his acts and omissions at work."
How to properly clean and maintain PPE?
First of all, it is important to follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Do not use non-recommended cleaning products, as this may damage the equipment. Preferably, cleaning and maintenance of PPE should be performed by qualified personnel. The maintenance technician must wear suitable equipment when cleaning and disinfecting. As the products used are sometimes toxic, it may be advisable to wear respiratory or eye protection equipment. This will avoid skin irritations or respiratory infections.
In short, be aware of the products used and follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Maintenance technicians are usually trained by the manufacturers to properly clean and disinfect equipment during their work.
Cleaning of portable detectors
Portable gas detectors are designed to be durable and easy to clean. Generally, a cleaning with cold water and a sponge is sufficient. Cleaning is not always sufficient, and sometimes disinfection is required. Be careful, however, because disinfection can alter the effectiveness of the detector. Indeed, the sensitivity of the sensor may be reduced, and there may be a loss of IP protection.
Cleaning of respiratory protective equipment
During a maintenance or production operation, it is important to be 100% sure of your personal protective equipment (PPE). The safety of your equipment is sometimes a real question of survival, especially for respiratory protection equipment. This is why equipment leaving the maintenance shop must be thoroughly checked to ensure the safety of the wearer.
It is very important to follow the manufacturer's cleaning and disinfecting instructions. Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) must be properly cleaned and disinfected:
If you remove the RPE for a break:
If removed for a break, the cartridge-equipped mask should be cleaned with a cleaning and/or disinfecting wipe, working from the inside of the mask to the outside. The mask and cartridges should be wiped with a damp cloth and dried with a paper towel.
If you remove the respirator at the end of the work shift:
At the end of the work shift, a more thorough cleaning procedure will be required. It may be completed by a disinfection procedure, depending on the company's risk assessment.
Cleaning of fall protection equipment
- Clean it with water and mild soap (pH neutral). Do not use acidic solvents or bases.
- Leave it to dry in a ventilated place and away from any direct fire or any other heat source. Store it in a place protected from humidity and ultraviolet rays.
- Avoid any corrosive, overheated or refrigerated atmosphere.
Otherwise, the easiest way to avoid contamination from textiles or plastics, such as harnesses or lanyards, is to handle them wearing gloves.
Properly cleaning PPE during Covid-19
During the Covid-19 pandemic, several recommendations are given. Disinfect hands regularly, as well as any material handled. For class III PPE (fall protection and respiratory protection), disinfecting textiles and plastics can be tricky. It is important to know that :
- Covid-19 disappears on textiles after 2 days
- It disappears on stainless steel and plastics after 7 days
Regarding gas detectors, do not clean them with hydroalcoholic gel because it can alter the efficiency of the sensors. Read this article to learn more!
"The barrier measures recommended by the government are now part of our daily lives. It is important to apply these precautionary principles to safety equipment such as gas detectors and class 3 PPE (fall arrest harnesses or respirators). Indeed, this individual protective equipment is not always assigned to a single employee, which is why it is important to wash and disinfect it before each use."
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