Health and Safety expert and VECTA member Karen Meadows of Safety in Action has provided us with the following helpful advice on PPE.
There are two types of mask. The first is worn as PPE to protect users from risks where there is Coronavirus present (tight fitting and half face), hence they have only been advised for hospitals and healthcare workers.
If workers are going into places where there is active Covid-19, for example a household that has positive cases, but their boiler has broken down, the employee will need to wear RPE (respiratory protective equipment) and they should have a face fit test for the mask. The risk will depend on the employer's risk assessment, which every employer should be doing.
Surgical masks / face coverings do not protect the wearer. They are there to give some protection to others as the wearer may not be exhibiting symptoms but still carrying the virus. This is not classed as PPE.
No one needs to wear gloves as they give a false sense of security to the wearer. Frequent handwashing is still key. Improved cleaning of hand contact points is key with sanitisers or 1/10 bleach solutions.
Protection in workplaces:
Employees are required to stay 2 metres apart whenever possible and when this isn’t, other measures should be put in place such as screens. Wearing surgical masks will also provide some degree of protection to others. Keep buildings well ventilated. Work at home if possible.
Visit the Safety in Action website for lots of advice on workplace Health and Safety and Covid-19.