Do you remember watching the movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? There’s a scene where government goons dressed up in hazmat suits descend upon the suburban home where ET is holed up and sick. Filmed at night and weirdly lit, it was hard to tell just who the real aliens were. Little may you have known that one day, you too would end up in an industry where PPE is common.
Although there’s no fear of contracting an ailment from otherworldly visitors (hopefully), there are a profusion of bio-hazards right here on earth you need to protect yourselves from, especially when working on sewage cleanup jobs or cleaning an area where birds and other animals have been living. Whether it’s Hepatitis B, Histoplasmosis, or another life-threatening disease, it’s important that you’re protected from infection by not only wearing the appropriate suit, but that you’re also wearing it correctly.
Protection Tips From the Experts
• Cover up – make sure you use suits with hoods and booties attached. Why? Because otherwise when you stretch, your bare wrists, ankles and neck might be exposed. It’s also better that a suit be a little bigger than smaller so that your movements won’t be limited when bending and reaching. And of course you’ll want to add a full face respirator to protect your mouth, eyes and nose.
• Double up – wear tear resistant nitrile gloves and tape them to the suit so that no exposure occurs when stretching. Then put a second pair of heavier gloves on over them. That way when you need to discard the soiled outer pair there will be no contact with your skin. Wearing any more than two pairs is overkill and will likely increase fatigue in your hands. You should also wear a pair of rubber boots over the booties for extra feet protection.
• Drink up – Needless to say, you can get very hot while suited up in all that protective gear. The longer you have it on, the higher the chance of experiencing something nasty like heat stroke. So before you zip yourself in, drink plenty of water. Don’t worry about being forced to use the restroom while all suited up because you drank so much. You’ll sweat most of that water out before it ever reaches your kidneys.
On any job where a hazmat suit is needed, it’s also a good idea to have available respirator and sanitizing wipes and a portable eyewash station. You should also have an extra change of clothing, as what you have on will probably be soaked through with sweat once you’re done. And before you ever put a suit on. be sure that you’ve first gotten Hepatitis B and tetanus vaccinations. PPE isn’t a suit of armor; there’s always the possibility of getting stuck, even when you’re unaware anything has happened.
ET was just a movie, but this is real life. So, do what you can to protect yours.