By: Sach Fernando
COVID-19 has changed the world in so many ways, including how we work.
Living in a pandemic is new to all of us, so it’s understandable that there is some confusion about what to do and what not to do. Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 and PPE.
What is PPE?
PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment. In some industries, like construction and healthcare, PPE has always been a standard part of the workplace. But now with COVID-19, other workplaces use PPE, too.
Proper use of PPE helps protect the wearer from infection of COVID-19, and also helps stops the spread.
The type of PPE you use for COVID-19 depends on what you’re doing, but PPE can include any of the following: surgical masks, particulate filter respirators (such as P2 or N95), gloves, goggles, glasses, face shields, gowns and aprons.
When should I use PPE?
Employers are legally obligated to maintain a safe work environment by providing employees with safe and effective PPE that is clean and well-fitting.
An employer must also provide staff with clear information about how and when to use PPE. This includes training staff on how to use it properly – how to safely put it on, how to remove it, how to store clean PPE, and what to do with used PPE.
Last, but not least, an employer must make sure that all staff clearly understand all PPE training and instructions, including providing extra help with those for staff who speak little English.
Besides PPE, there are other measures that an employer should put into place to protect staff from COVID-19. Policies and procedures to ensure a safe workplace should include:
- Good hygiene. This includes frequent washing and sanitising of hands, covering coughs or sneezes with the elbow, and regular wiping down of surfaces.
- Physical distancing. This means ensuring there is always 1.5 metres between workers and customers.
- Limiting gatherings. This entails enforcing limits on how many people are allowed to be together at the workplace.
- Testing/quarantine: This requires unwell staff to stay at home, get tested, and remain in isolation until they get the all-clear from a doctor that it’s okay to return to work.
What if I feel unsafe at work?
Objectionable customer behaviour during COVID-19 has been an issue for those working in customer-facing roles. Between the verbal abuse and refusal to wear masks, it has caused terrible stress for workers.
If you have been subjected to such unacceptable behaviour at work, remember: you have rights! You have the right to speak up, and you have the right to expect something to be done about the issue at hand. And your employer has both the legal right and the legal obligation to keep all staff safe.
Sach Fernando, Principal and Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law
PH: 1800 85 30 85
M: 0488 722 444