Personal Protective Equipment Guide During COVID-19
28 April 2020
It is now crucial because of COVID-19 that employers and employees understand how to practise infection control and prevention by appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
When must PPE be worn?
PPE should only be worn where the risks cannot be avoided or limited by other means. In circumstances where the risks are sufficiently low and can be considered to be adequately controlled, the provision of PPE is not necessary. PPE should only be used if staff know how to correctly use it.
Limitations of PPE
Employers and employees can sometimes have a false sense of security when using PPE. This is why it is important that they know the facts are trained appropriately. Here are some of the limitations of PPE:
- It is ineffective if not fitted or removed properly.
- Theoretical levels of protection are seldom reached in practice.
- The use of PPE restricts the wearer to some degree.
- The psychological effect of PPE may be such that the individual wearing the PPE feels more protected than he or she actually is.
Below are some tips to ensure the PPE you purchase for the workplace is of the highest standard and that it is correctly managed.
- It is important when sourcing PPE that it is CE marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2018. The CE marking signifies that the PPE satisfies certain essential health and safety requirements
- When sourcing PPE, the employer must select appropriate PPE which is user-friendly, and which fits the individual employee correctly.
- Special care should be taken where persons suffer from certain medical conditions, e.g. certain types of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) may not be suitable for employees with asthma, bronchitis or heart disease. Where situations such as these occur, the employer should seek medical advice as to whether the employee can tolerate the use of PPE.
- Instruct and train people how to use PEE e.g. train people to remove masks contaminating their skin. It is also recommended to explain why PPE is needed, when to use it and what its limitations are.
- PPE must be properly looked after and stored when not in use. It is recommended to store in a dry, clean cupboard or must be stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This is extremely important as leaving PPE lying around increases the risk of parts deteriorating by exposure to dirt, oil, UV rays, sunlight etc. If it is reusable it must be cleaned and kept in good condition.
- Keep replacement PPE available.
- Have an assigned person who monitors all PPE. They must thoroughly examine regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Putting in place some safety signs can be useful in reminding people that PPE should be worn.