You should regularly check the government’s online information to ensure that you are following the most up to date advice and guidance on PPE.
Public Health England (PHE) guidance
You must ensure that you use the recommended PPE for working in different settings when working with confirmed or suspected cases and contexts and PHE’s guidance on working safely, as follows:
This illustrated guide is for health and social care workers during this period of sustained transmission of COVID-19. It’s a quick and easy visual guide to help care workers to understand what PPE they need to wear in different scenarios.
Putting on, wearing and taking off PPE
You must ensure that guidance on the correct procedure for putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) PPE is followed at all times. For more information see:
A short training video covering the basic skills in donning and doffing PPE is available on the County Council’s Learning and Development Gateway. The video is accessible via a free sign-up to the Gateway.
Wearing masks – a quick visual guide to the do’s and don’ts of wearing masks. This resource will support staff to understand how to wear masks safely and correctly to ensure that they are used effectively.
Fit testing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs.)
Under Public Health England’s (PHE) guidance, staff are required to wear disposable FFP3 or other suitable respirators for certain Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs.) The list of what constitutes an AGP during the Covid-19 outbreak can be found in the COVID-19 infection prevention and control guidance: aerosol generating procedures published by Gov.uk. Guidance published by Gov.uk is also available on the use of PPE for AGPs.
It is an employer’s responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure that staff have access to appropriate equipment and that they know how to wear it properly. In relation to PPE required for AGPs, this means that staff should be fit tested to ensure that masks fit correctly and are effective. Staff must also understand how to create and check the seal every time it is worn. Staff will need to be fit tested for each brand or model of mask that they will use because not all masks fit in the same way.
For a list of approved fit-test trainers and for more information about fit testing see the fit2fit website.
An alternative to using a fit-tested mask is a positive pressure hood. These are reusable and suitable for all staff including those with facial hair. Positive pressure hoods do not need to be fit tested and may offer an alternative to using FFP3. If purchasing a positive pressure hood from a supplier, ensure that this meets the required standards.
Disposal of PPE
Guidance for care workers working in care homes includes information about the disposal of PPE: PHE's Guidance: Personal protective equipment (PPE): resource for care workers working in care homes during sustained COVID-19 transmission in England
There is also guidance for the disposal of PPE when supporting people in their own homes contained within the following PHE Guidance: Personal protective equipment (PPE): resource for care workers delivering domiciliary care during sustained COVID-19 transmission in England
During the COVID-19 pandemic staff need to wear PPE. This can be quite disorientating and potentially scary for people receiving support, as well as making communication more difficult.
This resource from NHS Lothian , (Edinburgh Behaviour Support Service), gives some suggestions of how to support people living with dementia when wearing PPE.
For further information about supporting customers, including those with specific communication or mental health needs or learning disabilities see the Customer Wellbeing section.
It is vitally important that staff wear PPE in line with PHE guidance (including face masks) to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you feel that you are unable to fully follow or implement any guidance due to the specific needs of customers then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
Employers’ responsibilities under the Health and Safety Executive
We appreciate and recognise the hard work that providers have taken to facilitate and promote infection control within services. However, the risk of transmission and further outbreaks of COVID-19 in West Sussex remains and so it is vitally important that services continue to follow and adhere to current PPE guidance for the safety of all staff, residents and visitors.
Under the Health and Safety Executive, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure they provide and train staff to wear the appropriate PPE at work. Please see the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.
No exemptions to wearing masks in social care
As you may be aware, some people are exempt from wearing face coverings in public places such as shops etc. These exemptions do not apply to wearing PPE as a social care worker.
If an employee is unable to wear a fluid repellent surgical mask or FFP3 respirator (for Aerosol Generating Procedures) or any other type of PPE as per guidelines, this must be included in their risk assessment. Consideration must be given to their current working duties and any reasonable adjustments made (as required) to accommodate a safe working environment. If this cannot be achieved, then the individual may need to be redeployed away from environments requiring respiratory PPE use.
Visors / face shields are not a suitable alternative to wearing face masks because they are for a different purpose. Face masks are for respiratory protection, whereas visors / face shields are for eye and face surface protection from droplets but do not prevent inhalation of airborne particles.
Please ensure that you are following the most recent government guidance on the use of PPE during COVID-19, which can be found on the Public Health England Coronavirus (COVID-19): Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) hub. If you feel that you are unable to fully follow or implement any guidance in relation to COVID-19 then contact us at email@example.com for advice.