PPE for disinfection: How to handle the hazardous properties of disinfectants

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sanitizing handrails with Graco SaniSpray handheld sprayer

ALWAYS read the labels on any tools or chemicals you’re using for disinfection. Then read the labels on your PPE to ensure they meet the necessary standards. Disinfection materials are strong by necessity, which often makes them hazardous. Failing to follow a label’s directions carries risks and potential health consequences.

The hazardous properties of disinfectants make PPE a necessity whenever you’re using them. However, different methods need different types of protection.

This is a general guide to basic safety measures when using cleaning agents. Always remember to read all safety labels thoroughly before working with any disinfectant products.

What PPE do you need when you’re disinfecting?

Your PPE requirements are determined by disinfection method and cleaning chemicals, as well as the space you’re disinfecting.

Foggers

Foggers flood a room with aerosolized disinfecting chemicals. PPE is always required during the filling and application stages with foggers. You will typically need to wear:

  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Respirator

Sometimes protective coveralls are also necessary.

After application, the room needs to remain empty for a certain amount of time, depending on the chemicals used. Wait times of at least 2 hours are common. Also keep in mind the airflow requirements. A certain amount of air exchange is often required before you can safely re-enter without PPE.

UV disinfection

Burns are the greatest risk when working with UV disinfection lights. Different manufacturers make different PPE recommendations, partly because regulations are still being developed.

Generally, appropriate PPE will include:

  • Gloves
  • UV-blocking face shield
  • Safety glasses
  • Clothing that covers exposed skin

Never shine UV lights toward people, animals or plants. Also, never touch UV emitters or any recently radiated surfaces. These precautions limit potential burn risks.

Wiping by hand

When you are wiping disinfectant chemicals onto a contaminated surface by hand, you need to keep two potential risks in mind:

  • The risk of harmful effects from the disinfectant.
  • The risk of cross-contamination from directly touching contaminated surfaces.

PPE should be worn for any dilution steps in addition to the entire application process. Depending on the chemical, your equipment may include:

  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Face mask
  • Respirator

IMPORTANT: Take extra care when removing your gloves if there’s been a risk of cross-contamination. Never touch the exterior of the glove with your exposed skin. Here’s an easy way to remove disposable gloves safely:

  1. Pinch the outside wrist of the first glove.
  2. Pull the first glove inside-out and slide it down the hand until just the fingers are still covered.
  3. Use your fingers inside the first glove to pinch the outside wrist of the second glove.
  4. Pull the second glove inside-out and slide it off completely.
  5. Use your exposed hand to grab the inside-out portion of the first glove and finish sliding it off.
  6. Dispose of the gloves immediately.

Spraying

There are a variety of spraying options on the disinfection market. At EnviroPro Solutions we specialize in cutting-edge electrostatic and airless sprayersHowever, when it comes to PPE, the requirements are similar across technologies.

Once again, PPE should be worn for any dilution steps as well as during the application process. Depending on the chemical, you may need:

  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Face mask
  • Respirator

Always be mindful of whether a chemical is appropriate for the sprayer you’re using. For example, alcohols like Isopropyl should not be used with most electric sprayers.

Do’s and Don’ts for Disinfection PPE

Here are a few more general tips regarding PPE and mitigating the hazardous properties of disinfectants.

  • Do ensure a sufficient supply of PPE is always available and accessible.
  • Don’t re-use disposable items.
  • Do train staff on PPE requirements.
  • Don’t assume PPE requirements are the same for all chemicals.
  • Do read safety labels before use.
  • Do use e-mails, posters and other forms of communication to keep everyone informed of PPE requirements.

EnviroPro Solutions can answer your PPE questions

As a one-stop-shop for PPE, disinfecting chemicals and sprayer equipment, we’re able to provide comprehensive solutions for the entire disinfection process. If you have any questions about how to keep yourself or your staff safe during disinfection, please reach out to us at [email protected] or by phone at 1-763-296-4449.