Posted by Fred Koenig on Apr 11th 2020

Why PPE Is Important and How to Use It Properly

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is important for all essential employees, because it acts as a barrier between you and viral and bacterial contaminants coming from respiratory secretions, blood, and other body fluids. Using PPE properly can help minimize exposure risk from injury or the spread of infection or illness, including COVID-19.

What PPE is necessary for ultimate protection?

With rising COVID-19 cases around the world, PPE is now more important than ever. This has caused a shortage of PPE, which means more and more essential workers and at-risk individuals are vulnerable to infection.

World Health Organization (WHO) has shipped 500,000 sets of PPE to 47 countries, but their supplies are rapidly depleting. The demand for masks, gloves, and goggles means there must be a 40% increase in PPE manufacturing to meet rising demand.

In response to this demand, ROMI Medical is working diligently to provide medical personnel, laboratory staff, and organizations with everything they will need to stay safe as they combat this pandemic.

What Is an N95 Mask?

The N95 respirator mask has a cup design which provides more enhanced filtration against potential hazards, and the dual straps enable a secure fit all while still allowing easy breathing.
There is also a multi-layered KN95 mask version that’s designed to look more like a standard surgical mask, yet it can easily block out COVID-19 and other particles that are 0.3 microns or larger.

The “95” in N95 and KN95 masks means they offer 95% filtration efficiency, making them ideal for hospitals. When worn properly sealed against your face, these masks are so effective that they are considered to be certified respirators since they filter particles that are too small to be seen with your eyes.

Standard medical face masks, also called surgical masks, also offer sufficient protection against dirt, dust, and bacteria, even without a set filtration level. They are soft on the skin, resist surface moisture, and come with loops that fit behind the ears. Unlike the N95, this particular design can only be worn for four hours and must be replaced once that time has passed.

Do Masks Protect Me From Others? When Should I Use One?

Homemade masks have become more popular due to mask shortages, but the results on how effective they are at preventing infection are mixed. NPR reported one study that said masks made from cotton t-shirts “would be better than no protection.” Yet, NPR noted a 2015 study that concluded, “Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% . . . .” The concerns were that “moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks, and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection.” (The authors have written a response to this article with further thoughts relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.) Regardless of the conflicting results, the CDC currently recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain . . . .”

The reason for this recommendation is that, in general, wearing a mask isn’t so much about protecting yourself from others’ germs, but about protecting others from YOUR germs. In other words, “My mask protects you, your mask protects me.”

You should wear a mask when:

  • Shopping at or interacting with others at an essential business
  • Visiting a doctor
  • Riding public transportation
  • Feeling sick, especially if you are coughing and sneezing

You can make a mask with only a few materials, in only a few minutes.

How to Properly Put On and Remove a Mask

To properly put on a mask:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (or rub your hands thoroughly with hand sanitizer).
  • Check the mask for tears or breaks.
  • Position the colored side of the mask outward, and the metallic strip across the bridge of your nose.
  • Hold the mask by the loops, ties, or elastic bands and secure around your ears or near the crown of your head and the nape of your neck.
  • Pinch and press the metallic strip around the shape of your nose.
  • Pull the bottom of the mask down over your mouth and chin.

To properly remove a mask:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (or rub your hands thoroughly with hand sanitizer).
  • Hold the mask by the loops, ties, or bands (do NOT touch the mask itself).
  • Depending on your mask, unhook both ear loops at once, untie the bottom bow followed by the top one, or remove the bottom band and lift it over your head followed by the top band.
  • Discard the mask by placing it in a covered trash bin.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (or rub your hands thoroughly with hand sanitizer).


  • Use a mask that doesn’t fit snugly
  • Crisscross the ties
  • Dangle the mask from one ear or hang it around your neck
  • Touch the mask once it’s in position
  • Use a soiled or damp mask
  • Reuse single-use masks

Watch a video about how to put on and take off a mask.

Other Forms of PPE

PPE involves more than just masks, but also includes goggles, face shields, isolation gowns, gloves, head covers, shoe covers. Additional, supplies such as hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and items like non-contact thermometers can improve the efficacy of PPE.


What is the most critical piece of PPE? From the medical industry to food service, gloves continue to be the most critical pieces of PPE for essential workers because they provide protection against fluids and contaminated surfaces. Gloves are available in sizes small to large so it is important that your gloves fit comfortably. Gloves come in a variety of materials including vinyl, latex, and powder-free nitrile gloves.

Isolation Gowns and Protective Clothing

Medical gowns provide an effective barrier against contact with blood, body fluids, and infectious substances and viruses. These are generally used in applications that require general isolation such as in hospitals, laboratories, clinics, and various public places. They come in a coverall design that’s complete with a hood to protect the hair, ears, and neck. They fasten down the front for easy removal. They are made to be safely destroyed according to health regulations after one use. Isolation gowns are breathable, waterproof, and dust-proof.

Disposable gowns are single-use gowns which provide the right level of protection for the wearer and help minimize the chance of contamination. Surgical gowns provide an excellent barrier against fluids and pathogens and are suitable for use by surgeons and surgical teams in all types of procedures. Reusable isolation gowns offer a good level of protection and can be reused multiple times to provide cost savings.

Isolation gowns are available in four barrier protection levels according to ANSI/AAMI Standards recognized by the FDA:

  • Level 1: For MINIMAL risk environments in basic patient care and standard hospital medical units.
  • Level 2: For LOW risk environments such as intensive care units and pathology labs.
  • Level 3: For MODERATE risk environments including emergency rooms and trauma centers.
  • Level 4: For HIGH risk situations which involve infectious diseases and large amounts of fluid exposure over long periods.

Shoe Covers and Head Covers provide an additional layer of protection in environments where there is risk of splashing or spraying of bodily fluids. Shoe covers also prevent the wearer from tracking potential hazards outside of their workspace and into their home. These covers are elastic and resist dust and moisture. As with masks and gowns, head and shoe covers should be disposed of after just one use.

Goggles and Face Shields

Goggles provide extra protection for those who work directly with chemicals and bodily fluids. The fully-enclosed design completely blocks out hazardous material, yet still allows enough room to wear glasses underneath and enables an adjustable fit.

However, for those who need full-face protection, an FDA-certified face shield would be a better option. They are designed to be impact and fog resistant, and are surprisingly lightweight in order to prevent possible dizziness.

Hand Sanitizers and Disinfectant Wipes

In addition to using PPE, items such as hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes can also help prevent the spread of germs and some viruses. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol can quickly remove germs and bacteria. It is recommended to use hand sanitizers when soap and water are not readily available. Hospital grade disinfectant wipes contain at least 70% isopropyl alcohol and can be used to decontaminate surfaces on workstations, tables, carts, door handles and equipment.

Non-contact Infrared Thermometers

Infrared thermometers can measure body temperature and check for fevers without making direct contact with the person. The advantage of a non-contact thermometer is that it avoids cross-infection and spread germs, diseases or bacteria. These thermometers provide a fast readout in under 1 seconds which means they can be used in high traffic areas like the entrance of buildings or groups of people.

Thermal cameras are a more streamlined method for temperature screening because they are fast, non-contact and can be monitored remotely. Thermal imaging cameras measure body temperature in real-time and do not interrupt the flow of crowds. These are commonly use in high traffic areas like airports, supermarkets, shopping malls, warehouses, factories, hospitals, schools and other public places.

The Importance of PPE & Why It Should Be Used

Now that you know what PPE is necessary, why is PPE important? As mentioned previously, it protects you (and others) from getting sick with infections such as influenza or COVID-19. However, there are plenty of other reasons why it should be used:

  • It’s something you can control, when everything else seems to be out of your control.
  • It’s a cheap and easy way to give yourself, and others, some much-needed reassurance.
  • It’s tried, tested, and reliable.
  • It allows you to do your job, and then allows you to go home again at night when you’re done.
  • It’s your responsibility and duty to do everything to protect yourself and those around you.
  • It sets a good example to others.
  • It prepares you for the worst and the unexpected.
  • It saves lives.

Need PPE? ROMI Medical Is Your Answer

Since 1979, our customer service team has been here to answer all your questions. We believe our integrity and professionalism shine in all we do. We ship to more than 200 countries around the world and use secure methods of payment that you can trust.

Remember, PPE is important and, when used properly, can save your life or someone else’s!