How long can a clinician wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) safely work in a high-risk isolation area during one continuous shift?

Grant ID: EMLE-165R34-2020-BODNAR

Project Summary

Patients with COVID-19 symptoms are isolated and treated in a high-risk zone (HRZ) within the emergency department. Entry is restricted to essential staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).

HRZ doctors and nurses typically work 5-10 hour shifts, during which meal and toilet breaks must be taken outside the HRZ. Doffing (taking off PPE) and repeated donning (putting on PPE) are discouraged to conserve PPE. Doctors and nurses often work continuously with minimum breaks because they must doff before exiting and don before entering the HRZ. PPE traps body heat generated by physical activity, adding to mental and physical fatigue, and potential breaches in infection control precautions.

This study will investigate the length-of-time doctors or nurses can safely work in HRZ in one continuous shift.



- Bodnar, D., Brown, N. J., Mitchell, G., Hughes, J. A., Lourensen, D., Hawkins, T., Chu, K., 2023. Determinants of fatigue in emergency department clinicians who wear personal protective equipment. Emergency Medicine Australasia.


- Bodnar, D., Mitchell, G., Hughes, J., Hawkins, T., Chu, K., 2021. Fatigue associated with personal protective equipment and patient care in a high-risk isolation area of the emergency department. Herston Health Precinct Symposium, Brisbane, Australia.


Amount Awarded


Grant Scheme


Principal Investigator:
Dr Daniel Bodnar

Co Investigators:
A/Prof Kevin Chu
Dr Nathan Brown
Ms Tracey Hawkins
Dr Gary Mitchell
Dr James Hughes
Mr Darren Lourensen


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