Here, Kelly Friel from the tools and PPE specialists Zoro outlines how your company should be managing and maintaining your workers’ personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.
Whether you manage a warehouse or haulage business, you will have had to make many adjustments to the way you work over the last few months. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, staff must abide by social distancing rules wherever possible and, while the Health and Safety Executive hasn’t set out any specific guidelines for those who work in other industries besides healthcare, you’ll want to provide your employees with the necessary personal protective equipment to keep them safe. This could come in the form of masks, visors, gloves, and possibly even overalls.
It isn’t just a case of making sure this PPE is available, though. You also need to ensure it’s managed and maintained properly. I’m going to outline how you can do that here.
Collect your staff’s PPE at the end of every shift
Before coronavirus, your staff might have taken their uniforms and PPE home with them each night so they could come back prepared in the morning. But, in order to ensure everything is properly controlled and cleaned, I would recommend collecting everything at the end of each shift to clean and store yourself. This will mean, if the virus has made its way onto a member of staff’s PPE, there’ll be a smaller risk of them taking it home with them. And, it also eradicates the risk of your workers’ PPE becoming contaminated at home or on the way into work.
Wash all clothing and reusable face coverings thoroughly
If the PPE you provide your staff with includes clothing — such as overalls — and face coverings, you’ll want to launder this properly to limit the risk of Covid-19 spreading through your workforce. According to the government’s guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings outside the home, if a member of staff has shown symptoms of coronavirus, or a test has confirmed that someone has it, you should wash clothing with the warmest water setting that the manufacturer’s guidelines allow. You should also avoid shaking clothing before it’s washed to reduce the risk of dispersing the virus into the air. You should then disinfect anything that’s touched the laundry, such as the basket you might have carried it in. While this guidance is given for settings where it’s thought someone has the virus, I would recommend following these steps as a precaution, regardless.
Reduce your staff’s contact with each other’s PPE
We all know we should be social distancing wherever possible, but it’s also worth limiting how much contact your staff have with each other’s PPE. So, you might have to rethink the way you store or distribute their protective wear. For example, could you put everyone’s uniforms into separate lockers that are at least 1m apart? Or could you personally deliver their PPE kits to them each day? You essentially want to limit the number of hands that are going to touch each piece of clothing or equipment, so it’s a good idea to set up a system that makes this possible.
This is a strange time for everyone, and we’re all just trying to adapt the best we can. But the safety of your employees is paramount, which means you need to provide them with all of the appropriate PPE, as well as maintain and store it appropriately. Take these tips on board to ensure that is the case.