Infection Control and Prevention - PPE Frequently Asked Questions

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - Frequently Asked Questions

Infection control principles and practices for local health agencies


Gwen Borlaug
Infection Control Epidemiologist
Wisconsin Division of Public Health
Bureau of Communicable Diseases
Phone 608-267-7711
Fax 608-261-49-76

What PPE should be used to clean vomitus? How should it be discarded?
  • Wear gloves to protect hands, and a surgical mask to prevent ingestion of aerosolized particles that may have been generated in the contaminated area. Gowns are also recommended if clothing or skin will come in contact with potentially infectious material. 
  • Disposable items used for clean-up and PPE saturated or dripping with infectious material should be discarded into red biohazard bags, otherwise items may be placed into the regular trash.
What PPE is needed when in contact with a known or suspected TB patient?

A NIOSH certified fit-tested N-95 filtering face piece (FFP) or a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) must be worn by staff sharing the same air space as a potentially infected person. Staff persons who have not been fit-tested or have not received a medical evaluation for the ability to wear a respirator must NOT have exposure to potentially infectious air.

What PPE is used if both airborne and contact precautions are needed, such as for SARS and Avian influenza?

Use a NIOSH certified fit-tested N-95 filtering face piece or PAPR, gown, and gloves. These diseases also require use of eye protection (goggles or face shield) during patient contact.

When PPE is needed during home visits, when should the PPE be put on?
  • PPE such as gowns, gloves, and surgical masks should be donned in an entrance of the home where a client is least likely to have contaminated the area. Clients should be notified in advance of the visit, if possible, to make sure they are not at the entrance when local public health agency staff arrives.
  • If respiratory protection is needed, however, the N-95 filtering face piece or PAPR must be applied before entering the home and remains on until outside the home. Fit-check steps should be performed before entering the home when wearing an N-95 filtering face piece.
How often does the employer need to provide training for staff requiring PPE?

Initial training must be done prior to use of PPE, and thereafter when an employer has reason to believe that an employee does not have the understanding of use of PPE, or when there are changes in the workplace or types of PPE rendering previous training obsolete.

Who can provide training?

There are no specific requirements for the person assigned to provide training. However, it is best to select someone with knowledge in this area.

How should PPE be stored?

Generally PPE should be stored in a dry area at room temperature, protected from dust and moisture. Check with the manufacturer for more specific storage conditions. Some items may have expiration dates and will require rotation of stock to avoid outdating.

Last Revised: November 13, 2015