Ask the expert: Booties and masks in the cafeteria

By: April 30th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: We have been told that all personal protective equipment (PPE) worn in the OR or procedure room should be removed before leaving the room/area. We’re trying to enforce the removal of such PPE. No booties and mask in the cafeteria! Is this an OSHA standard? Is there a fine.?

A: The applicable section of the Bloodborne Pathogens standard is:

1910.1030(d)(3)(vii): All personal protective equipment shall be removed prior to leaving the work area.

That’s straightforward enough to mean no booties and masks in the cafeteria to me. And, yes, this violation could be the basis of a fine. It is also contrary to AORN and APIC recommendations and would find disfavor with a number of accreditation organizations.

Furthermore, if the employer uses the excuse that despite reminders workers are just not following the standard, then OSHA would look for deficiencies in your PPE training which would be covered by:

1910.1030(g)(2)(vii)(G) Information on the types, proper use, location, removal, handling, decontamination and disposal of personal protective equipment.

So, in some case you could have two violations with fines on this matter.

I have seen PPE worn outside the work area in facilities that I have worked at and visited, and I always wondered not only why it is tolerated, but why someone would even think of wearing PPE out in public areas. It’s similar to shaking hands while wearing a sign saying: “By the way, I don’t wash my hands when I’m supposed to because I’m above all that stuff.”

Maybe, like a hat worn at a rakish angle, a surgical mask dangling from the neck cuts a dashing figure in the cinematic mind of the healthcare worker… but booties? C’mon.

Do you have other insights into this situation. Let us know in the comments section below.


By Susan Justice on May 10th, 2010 at 11:03 am

What about head coverings? We have found conflicting information about whether they should also be removed with the mask and booties.

By David LaHoda on May 10th, 2010 at 11:07 am

PPE is PPE as far as OSHA is concerned. What’s your conflicting information?

But seriously do you really want anyone form the surgical area walking around in PPE while helping themselves to the salad bar?

By Terrie Ramage on July 23rd, 2018 at 3:14 pm

If the employee is using a Clean PPE (lab coat)for warmth or protecting their scrubs while they are outside a sterile work area, is this still a violation?


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