Personal protective equipment
Find guidance, training and resources for using personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to COVID-19 in NSW.
Last updated 18 June 2020
The safety of NSW Health staff is a priority at all times, especially during COVID-19.
When staff are directed to work with patients who are COVID-19 positive or COVID-19 symptomatic the CEC guidelines prescribe the safe working practices required using PPE (e.g. face shields/masks or other equipment).
In all circumstances:
- staff are to wear PPE as prescribed in the CEC guidelines
- staff are not to undertake or be required to undertake tasks requiring PPE if the PPE is not available for use. Any such tasks are not to proceed until required PPE is available.
Where staff are performing tasks requiring P2/N95 mask use under the CEC guidelines and where the employee has fit checked the available P2/N95 mask sizes and these sizes are not a correct fit, then the employee is to be temporarily redirected to work which does not require the use of a P2/N95 mask until suitable masks with correct fit become available
Resources below have been developed to provide guidance on contact, droplet and airborne precautions in healthcare settings. More information on Transmission-Based Precautions is available on our Infection Prevention and Control pages. Information on COVID-19, relating to matters other than PPE, can be found at NSW Health.
Published: 11 June 2020 | Audience: Allied Health Workers | Size: 221.8 KB, 5 pages
This guide is intended to support Allied Health professionals' decision making in relation to the indications for the recommended use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in hospitals, community health centres and other facilities.
Published: 18 June 2020 | Audience: health managers and health workers | Size 1 MB, 43 pages
This document provides guidance on using gowns, surgical masks, P2 and N95 masks, and mask fit checking and fit testing.
Published: 27 April 2020 | Audience: health workers | Size 96 KB, 3 pages
This document provides a quick reference guide for using PPE in emergency departments and includes information on PPE use at different risk levels of COVID-19 infection.
Published: 19 March 2020 | Audience: health workers | Size: 659 KB, 2 pages
This guidance provides a summary on the use of masks for NSW healthcare and community settings.
Published: 19 March 2020 | Audience: health workers | Size 595 KB, 1 page
This visual step-by-step guide shows one example of how to safely put on and fit-check P2 and N95 masks.
Published: 2 June 2020 | Audience: health workers | Size: 80 KB, 4 pages
This guide provides advice to facilitate easy identification of an appropriate surgical gown for surgical/aseptic procedures.
Published: 5 May 2020 | Audience: health workers | Size 4MB, 58 pages
This adaptable presentation is an introduction to infection prevention and control standard and transmission–based precautions summarising the purpose of PPE and detailed steps for safe donning and doffing.
Published: 3 April 2020 | Audience: health workers in drive-through specimen collection centres | Size: 72 KB, 3 pages
This document provides interim guidance on using PPE and the process for collecting specimens for COVID-19 testing in drive-through specimen collection centres.
NSW Health staff are encouraged to complete three My Health Learning modules related to COVID-19, in addition to the new module titled “Personal protective equipment for combined transmission-based precautions”.
The education videos on this page are also available to view on the Clinical Excellence Commission YouTube channel.
Additional My Health Learning modules
- Infection Prevention and Control Practices (Course code: 46777047)
- Infection Prevention – Transmission Based Precautions (Course code: 253093581)
- Infection Prevention – Enhanced Precautions for Pandemic Flu (Course code: 289888589)
Transmission Based Precautions
Health workers must have an understanding of the basic principles of Contact, Droplet and Airborne precautions as they are applied individually. The combined precautions are required for COVID-19 in clinical practice.
The proper removal (doffing) and disposal of contaminated PPE is the most important step in preventing inadvertent exposure to pathogens. There are a variety of ways to safely remove PPE without contaminating your clothing, skin, or mucous membranes with potentially infectious materials. See three examples below.
NB: Facilities can adopt other safe ways of PPE removal according to local guidelines and procedures.
Hand Hygiene should be performed between steps and at any point where contamination occurs.
My Health Learning videos
HETI have create video training resources for healthcare staff. These are divided into the three categories of airborne, contact and droplet precautions.
PPE training videos
These PPE training videos outline the steps for putting on and taking off PPE when applying combined contact and droplet precautions or combined contact droplet and airborne precautions in addition to standard precautions, when caring for patients with some infectious diseases such as COVID-19.
NSW Health staff are required to view the videos in My Health Learning (Course Code 294450660, PPE for combined transmission-based precautions).
Always refer to your local infection prevention and control guidelines if you are unsure whether these recommendations apply in your workplace. We acknowledge there will be variation in the PPE available in different settings according to needs, so the videos provide one example of step-by step personal protective equipment (PPE) donning and two examples of PPE doffing specifically for patients with COVID-19.
Health workers must have an understanding of the basic principles of transmission based precautions as they are applied individually. Once basic principles of these precautions are understood, the requirement for combining these precautions improves overall understanding. For individual components of PPE donning and doffing see My Health Learning -Transmission Based Precautions modules.
Combined contact and droplet precautions
For patients with infections such as COVID-19, you will need to use contact and droplet precautions combined to provide the protection required for health workers.
This video briefly outlines the steps for putting on and taking off PPE when applying contact and droplet precautions in addition to standard precautions, when caring for patients with some infectious diseases such as COVID-19.
Combined contact, droplet and airborne precautions
Some procedures are believed to generate aerosols beyond normal droplet dispersion as a source of respiratory pathogens. These procedures include intubation, extubation, non-invasive ventilation, bronchoscopy, and high flow nasal oxygen. A number of procedures may generate droplets but are not considered as an aerosol generating procedure and contact and droplet precautions provide the correct precautions for these procedures. Standard precautions apply at all times.
For patients with infections such as COVID-19 and aerosol generating procedures, you will need to use contact, droplet and airborne precautions combined to provide the protection required for health workers. Some critically ill patients requiring extended length of care may also require addition of airborne precautions.
This video briefly outlines the principles and steps for putting on and taking off PPE when applying contact, droplet and airborne precautions in addition to standard precautions, when aerosol generating procedures are conducted on patients with COVID-19.
- Contact and Droplet Precaution Sign 2020 - Portrait - remove gloves and gown separately (updated 14/04/2020)
- Contact and Droplet Precaution Sign 2020 - Portrait - remove gloves and gown as one step (updated 15/4/2020)
- Contact Droplet Airborne Precautions Sign 2020 - Portrait - remove gloves and gown separately (24/4/2020)
- Contact Droplet Airborne Precautions Sign 2020 - Portrait - remove gloves and gown as one step (24/4/2020)
- Isolation Signs - Landscape (09/03/2020)
- Isolation Signs - Portrait (09/03/2020)
- Special Precautions for COVID-19 Designated Zones (28/4/2020)
- Infection Prevention and Control COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (28/4/2020)
- COVID-19 - Prevent Transmission - Protect Staff and Patients (26/03/2020)
- Respiratory Hygiene Poster (updated 11/3/2020)
- NSW Health 'Stop the Spread' (20/3/2020)