Revised World Health Organization (WHO) technical specifications for personal protective equipment (PPE) selection add an important dimension by including performance standards to PPE selection guidelines, according to the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). The WHO update released on October 31, 2014, provides some clarification on PPE options based on effective test methodologies that protect healthcare workers from Ebola virus disease transmission.

The technical specifications are part of new WHO guidelines developed by an international panel, in consultation with infection control experts as well as health care workers experienced in caring for Ebola patients. They reinforce the importance of selecting PPE based on a thorough hazard analysis; and the proper use and selection of protective clothing and equipment based on product safety standards to provide maximum protection against biological hazards.

ISEA believes that linking PPE selection guidelines with product performance standards is a positive step forward in assisting the healthcare provider in making the right decision when choosing safety products for healthcare workers.

ISEA member companies have been consulting with the CDC to provide updated product performance standards and methodologies that support best practices and universal precautions. “ISEA member companies have a broad and deep knowledge of protective technologies and draw from a wealth of experience in research and development to design and provide the highest level of protection available to the healthcare industry, first responders, disposal and decontamination personnel and the U.S. military,” said ISEA President Dan Shipp.

The ISEA continues to respond to inquiries from various organizations, including health care facilities, on product safety standards and are emphasizing the importance of purchasing PPE based on needs versus ‘panic buys’. “We are in constant communication with ISEA member companies, and although production capacities may be tight due to demand, manufacturers are doing all they can to provide adequate supplies of protective clothing and equipment,” stated Shipp.