17 Nov 2022

The risks of protection

It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has had unprecedented effects on all of our lives. But what about the potential effects of the very equipment meant to protect us from harm? A recent study has looked at how PPE and high workload affected a set of healthcare professionals’ physiological and cognitive performances.

Researchers compared the short-term effects of PPE1, which was classed as a medical coverall with a surgical mask, and PPE2, an impermeable full-body coverall with shoe covers, latex gloves, N95 mask and a face shield. The study mapped factors such as heart rate, energy expenditure, core body temperature, and cognitive performance.

It found that PPE2 and an intense workload greatly increased these physical factors, as well as participants’ sense of fatigue, skin wetness and clothing moisture. However it also found that the cognitive performance of the participants was not significantly affected by the type of PPE that they wore.

The findings, published in the journal Ergonomics, could help develop more effective PPE and highlights the importance of healthcare workers having the correct kit.

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