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NIOSH Research Highlights Importance of Rigorous Standards for Gowns Used to Protect Healthcare Workers

Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Healthcare, Personal Protective Equipment

 

Recent research performed at the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), with support from Nelson Laboratories, suggests that some isolation gowns do not meet the performance standards established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI).

Isolation gowns are the second-most-used piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals, following gloves (Holguin, 2011). Hospital isolation gowns are worn to protect healthcare workers during procedures and patient-care activities when anticipating contact with blood, bodily fluids, secretions and excretions (Siegel, 2007). The threat of emerging infectious diseases, such as Ebola virus disease and pandemic influenza, has highlighted the need for effective PPE to protect both healthcare workers and their patients.

A Perfect Romance: A Valentine’s Day Guide to the Necessary Considerations of CBRN APR Use

Categories: Emergency Response/Public Sector, Personal Protective Equipment, Respirators

vday2015Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear … no, we’re not talking about our plans for Valentine’s Day. For the last few years NIOSH has celebrated this romantic holiday by showing a little love for respirators. This year we are highlighting the special considerations necessary for the use of CBRN APRs (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Air-Purifying Respirators). Please note that a respiratory protection program administrator should always ensure that manufacturer recommendations are being addressed and applicable regulations are followed in addition to the NIOSH Cautions and Limitations of use. APR wearers should also be trained to fully understand and appreciate the unique characteristics of the CBRN APRs in order to obtain optimal protection during use.

Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development – How NIOSH is Helping Design Improved Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers

Categories: Ebola, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Healthcare, International, Personal Protective Equipment

Figure 1. NIOSH sweating thermal manikin with the PPE ensemble commonly used by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) for high exposure areas. This PPE ensemble includes a TyChem C coverall (a type of limited-use Chemical Protective Coverall), a custom-made Tyvek hood with integrated surgical mask, rubber apron, respirator, googles, rubber gloves, and rubber boots.  Photo courtesy of NIOSH NPPTL.

Figure 1. NIOSH sweating thermal manikin with the PPE ensemble commonly used by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) for high exposure areas. This PPE ensemble includes a TyChem C coverall (a type of limited-use Chemical Protective Coverall), a custom-made Tyvek hood with integrated surgical mask, rubber apron, respirator, googles, rubber gloves, and rubber boots. Photo courtesy of NIOSH.

The current Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the largest in history and is unprecedented in many ways, including the large number of healthcare workers who have been infected while treating patients. The large scale of the epidemic, as well as the two healthcare workers who contracted Ebola while caring for the first case in the United States, has directed particular attention to the personal protective equipment (PPE) used by healthcare workers to reduce their risk of infection. PPE is designed to create a barrier to prevent pathogens from entering the body through the mucous membranes or broken skin. Examples of PPE used for Ebola include (but are not limited to) gloves, gown/coverall, mask/respirator, apron, faceshield/goggles, and cap/hood (see Figure 1). Reports from healthcare workers in West Africa indicate that some personnel are able to wear their PPE for only 40 minutes at a time because of the high ambient temperature and humid conditions. Even in the United States, where management of patients with Ebola is done in air-conditioned environments, uncomfortable PPE is a common complaint and causes additional burden for healthcare workers.

Be Pioneers to Protect Our Volunteers!

Categories: Emergency Response/Public Sector

oneresponder_beach (2)Emergency responders, such as police officers, fire fighters, and paramedics, are often on the front lines during a disaster, which makes them particularly vulnerable to work-related injuries and illnesses during a response. The scientific community has some knowledge about occupational injuries and illnesses among these groups from surveillance systems currently in place, notably the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), but the BLS database does not include volunteers.   What about the courageous responders from volunteer organizations or volunteer fire fighters and paramedics at local and county levels?

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