The COVID-19 crisis has thrust personal protective equipment (PPE) into the spotlight, and as wearing masks becomes the norm, so too have conversations around the critical role of PPE. In this blog, we are going to look at how people can protect themselves when performing cleaning tasks in this strange new world, and cover a few best practices to minimise the risk of viral transmission.
The Government has provided general guidance for cleaning in relation to COVID-19, which outlines the various factors which can increase or exacerbate the risk of transmission. With lockdown in the UK ongoing in one way or another, the opening and closing of spaces such as offices require a considered approach to sanitation. As such, it is more important than ever for anyone tasked with cleaning these spaces to familiarise themselves with the guidance, in order to ensure best practice is followed.
One of the key defences in the fight against coronavirus has been PPE, which has been well-documented throughout the pandemic and often refers to equipment that is involved with infection control. Its role is now coming under increased interest when it comes to cleaning in a wide range of locations, from places of work through to restaurants, pubs, and public transport.
Getting the right equipment and using it correctly
It’s important to get the correct PPE when cleaning, and a big part of this is avoiding over-specification. For example, medical grade respiratory equipment is not considered necessary for general cleaning purposes in a non-medical setting.
It is crucial that those working on the frontline have access to the equipment they need to keep themselves and all of us safe, and as such we need to ensure they have ongoing access to the highest-grade PPE. To help with this, those tasked with cleaning need to make sure they are wearing relevant and appropriate equipment.
Disposable gloves and disposable overshoes are two of the key items for general cleaning and disinfection, but it must be understood that these do not provide absolute protection against COVID-19. Instead, they are important in reducing transmission from one workspace to another – whether that’s between different locations or within an office.
To ensure PPE remains as effective as possible, it is vital that once an area has been cleaned items are immediately and safely disposed of, and hands must still be washed thoroughly for 20 seconds. The best way to think about it is if you would normally wash your hands when not wearing hand protection, take that as a prompt to change gloves.
There is a massive range of disposable PPE available, so those tasked with specifying the protective equipment need to consider what they need for their specific task. Below are a few of the main considerations when it comes to the core pieces of disposable equipment:
- Material – getting the material of the glove right is crucial for a number of reasons. Although latex gloves are available, there are a number of people who have latex allergies and will therefore require latex free alternatives. It is also the case that this material, alongside vinyl and polythene gloves, does not protect the wearer from the chemicals used in cleaning. While COVID-19 is the primary health concern, there are immediate dangers to the hand if not properly protected. With this in mind, powder-free nitrile gloves are the best option.
- Fit - this can refer to a number of different aspects surrounding how a glove fits on the wearer’s hand. Are beaded cuffs required, what level of dexterity is necessary, and what size do you need?
Disposable shoe covers
- Material - as with gloves, it is important to get disposable overshoes that are fit for purpose. Look out for anti-slip material on the bottom, and an elasticated ankle closure for maximum hygiene.
- We’ve put disposable aprons on this list because it’s an item of PPE that is popular in certain environments that require hygienic practices. They are perfect for applications such as food preparation, and can minimise contamination between product and clothes, but they only offer limited protection against COVID-19. Even if correct procedure is followed i.e. disposing of the apron between workspaces, the area covered by the item is not necessarily large enough to make a meaningful difference.
- However, every effort should still be made to minimise the risk wherever possible. Opting for disposable PVC gowns, or SMS coveralls with splash protection properties, alongside ongoing and stringent personal hygiene strategies, should be the priority.
Sourcing equipment properly
Alongside ensuring that you specify the correct type of PPE, care should also be taken over where equipment is sourced from. One of the most concerning outcomes of the massive increase in demand as a result of COVID-19 has been the prevalence of non-compliant, uncertified, and potentially ineffective PPE entering the market.
Now more than ever, those tasked with providing PPE need to make sure they are getting their equipment from trusted suppliers. There is now a greater understanding of the impact PPE has on minimising the risk of transmission, so it is critical that high-quality PPE is sourced through legitimate channels, in order to avoid issues with non-compliant equipment.
The Registered Safety Supplier Scheme, of which Supertouch is a member, audits sellers of PPE to ensure products are properly certified by the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF). Equipment that has become an absolute necessity for cleaning, such as disposable gloves, aprons and overshoes, must be fit for purpose, in order to protect the wearer and ensure effective cleaning can take place.
Earlier this year we launched our new website to ensure we could offer reduced lead times and enhanced customer service. It enables us to provide next day delivery to our distributors, and we can also offer drop ship direct of our products to end users when sold through a distributor.
Check out Supertouch’s range of disposable PPE here