As an employer, you have a duty of care towards your staff. This means you’re require to take all necessary precautions to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees. During COVID-19, one of your responsibilities involves supplying your employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary.

Now, depending on the industry you operate in, this may be mandatory. But during these uncertain times, you’ll want to provide PPE even if you’re not required by law. Think about it, if you can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by simply supplying equipment, then why not?

In this article, we explore the types of PPE available, and which should be used in various working environments to help you supply the necessary equipment for your staff.

What is personal protective equipment (PPE)?

PPE is worn or used by employees to help reduce risks from health and safety hazards. For protection during COVID-19, this includes gloves, facemasks, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes.

While social distancing at work can go a long way by limiting the risks your workforce face, the addition of PPE can further decrease the chances of spreading. This doesn’t mean the addition of PPE will completely remove the risks altogether. So, you should be aware of the possibilities and have procedures in place should a member of staff become infected. This will likely include self-isolation for at least 2 weeks.

In short, PPE should be considered alongside social distancing measures, not as an alternative.

PPE supplies from SANIQUE

Correct PPE usage is vital

It’s important to note that incorrect use of PPE could put colleagues and customers at risk. The virus lives longer on plastic than regular clothes, so if not used and disposed of correctly, items such as masks and gloves could become a major hazard to infection.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, all issued PPE should be:

  • Correctly fitted, taking into account any health conditions
  • Stored in a clean and dry area to prevent contamination
  • Disposed of into the correct waste bin after use
  • Located near the point of use

PPE recommendations according to work environments

Cleaning staff

For jobs that involve cleaning premises where there have been possible or confirmed cases of COVID-19, a minimum of disposable gloves and an apron should be provided. For areas where a higher level of contamination may have been present, such as rooms where suspected sufferers have stayed, then surgical face masks and eye protection should be considered. The governments advice covers how PPE should be used in cohesion with other control measures such as hand washing.

Staff providing care to others

With the nature of caring, whether that be elderly people, sick patients, or children, it’s not always possible to maintain social distancing, so PPE is required. What PPE is required though depends on the level of care and risks that this entails. The government have worked closely alongside the NHS and other supporting organisations to produce tables that highlight the recommended level of PPE for these circumstances. Below are the PPR recommendations for:

  1. Table 1 – Healthcare workers by secondary care clinical context
  2. Table 2 – Primary, outpatient, community and social care setting, NHS and independent sector.
  3. Table 3 – Ambulance, paramedics, transport, pharmacists
  4. Table 4 – Additional considerations (any setting) for COVID-19

Schools and further education colleges

Following the latest government announcement about face coverings in schools, the guidance now says that teachers and pupils should wear face coverings when moving around the school, such as corridors and other communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. However, it won't be necessary to wear face coverings inside the classroom. Protective measures that are already in place mean that the risks are lower, and additional PPE is not needed in this environment.

This new approach applies to further education colleges and reflected in guidance to universities, but will not be applied to children in primary schools. 

For staff where social distancing is difficult to maintain

In most non-health and social care workplaces, social distancing measures combined with regular hand washing is considered the best protection against the spread of COVID-19. However, in some settings, such as educational facilities, housing associations, police & justice, etc. the requirements of service make it difficult to maintain social distancing.

To combat this, appropriate PPE must be used in order to help avoid spreading of the virus. This should be judged based on the level of risk for the given job. It’s important to note that it’s better to be over cautious than unprepared. Even if you opt for a type 1 disposable face mask, you’ll limit the spread of COVID-19 drastically.

PPE supplies from SANIQUE

At SANIQUE, we stock an extensive range of PPE products to help businesses keep both staff and customers safe during COVID-19. Our bulk buy discounts, competitive pricing, and short lead times makes us the number one supplier of safety equipment for the workplace. Our PPE range includes:

If you’re looking to purchase PPE and require assistance, or have any questions around our products, contact us and speak to an expert today.

To conclude

PPE should be taken seriously, especially during these uncertain times. If you’re unsure as to what level of PPE is required to keep your staff and customers safe, take a look at the COVID-19 section on the Gov.uk website. They’ve published several guides with recommendations around PPE in the workplace.  

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