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Coronavirus and the importance of PPE

The current Coronavirus pandemic has led to an increased focus on the use and supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The UK government has implemented a series of measure in order to contain the spread of the virus.  These have included the closing of schools, pubs, restaurants, and shops selling non-essential items.  Encouraging people to work from home if they can.  Prohibiting any unnecessary journey unless they are for medical supplies/treatment, to buy essential items or for exercise.

In addition, social distancing is also in place.  People are to stay at least two metres apart from others (excluding those they already live with) and self isolate if they, or anyone in their household, shows any symptoms of the virus.

WHY IS PPE IMPORTANT?

Due to the ease of transmission of Coronavirus (or COVID-19) and the potentially serious nature of the virus, PPE is needed to reduce transmission rates.

When used correctly, PPE can act as a physical barrier between the infection and the eyes, nose, mouth, and skin.  This is vital to stopping the spread of the virus and protecting those most at risk from complications.

Before the social distancing and lockdown measures were brought in, it was estimated that one person with Coronavirus could infect up to 400 people.

WHO NEEDS PPE?

PPE is vital to the work of medical professionals and those working in health and social care.

Additionally, employers in other sectors will need to conduct a risk assessment for their employees who are still required to work with the general public.  These can include (but are not limited to):

  • Shopworkers
  • Delivery drivers
  • Couriers
  • Public transport staff
  • Teachers
  • Carers

Throughout the world, 30 countries have already made the wearing of protective facemasks compulsory when leaving the house.  It is expected that the UK will follow suit in the near future.

If you are currently caring for someone who has Coronavirus you may want to use PPE to minimise the risk of transmission.

Many people have already made the decision to start wearing facemasks and gloves when working, travelling, or exercising.

DO I NEED TO SUPPLY MY EMPLOYEES WITH PPE EQUIPMENT?

All employers have a duty of care to provide their workers with the correct PPE to carry out their jobs safely, this includes any PPE required during Coronavirus.

Outside of the healthcare system, where guidelines are already firmly in place, employers will need to conduct a risk assessment on what PPE equipment their employees will need.

For many companies, this will mean providing gloves, aprons, and facemasks, gloves and hand sanitizer.

You can find information on the responsibilities of employers on the Unison website.

CORRECT USE OF PPE

The correct use of PPE is vital to protect colleagues, family, and friends from contracting the virus.  Incorrect use and disposal can cause additional risks.

Generally, PPE for Coronavirus protection should be single-use only.

BEWARE OF SCAMS

These are unsettling times and you may well be very anxious about your safety and that of your loved ones. Unfortunately, there are people willing to take advantage of this.  There have been numerous reports of scams selling PPE that is either fake, overpriced or doesn’t actually exist.

Only buy from a reputable source, and if you have any doubts at all, don’t risk your money.