Whilst certain businesses are fortunate enough to be able to work from home, most essential workers do not have that luxury. Having the right personal protection equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 becomes very important for them in this scenario.

What PPE Should I be Wearing?

Personal protection equipment during COVID-19 recommended for health and social care settings include a plastic apron, disposable gloves, face-mask, and eye protection.

As per the HSE guidelines, the right PPE against the Coronavirus (which causes COVID-19) is a tight-fitting respirator, like an FFP3 mask or a reusable half-mask.

Different types of face masks and purple surgical gloves

What are FFP3 Masks?

FFP stands for Filtering Face Piece. These masks have been deemed appropriate PPE for COVID-19 and come in different levels of protection, with 1 offering the lowest protection and 3, the highest. These facemasks are designed to protect wearers from liquid as well as solid aerosols.

In order to get complete protection, these masks should be fitted to your face, with no gaps between the rim of the mask and your skin. Additionally, these are disposable and should be changed frequently.

Why Should I be Concerned About Aerosols?

Whilst we normally hear about aerosols in reference to deodorants and chemical spray bottles, the term actually means a suspension of particles in a gas. If you hear aerosol in reference to COVID-19, it means tiny droplets of liquid that are pushed out the nose or mouth when someone sneezes or coughs that stay suspended in the air for a period of time.

If the person is infected with the Coronavirus, these droplets could carry the virus, which could then land on you. If these get inside your nose or eyes, you run the risk of getting infected yourself. This is what the PPE for COVID-19 is supposed to protect you from.

man sneezing and the resulting aerosol spray of bodily fluids

How Should I Get Face-Fitted for Masks?

You might need the help of fit-testers in order to ensure a perfect mask fit. However, care should be taken to maintain proper social distancing. In case you have the symptoms of COVID-19, you should not attend a fit test. Only go for it if you’re not displaying a fever or a persistent cough.

If it becomes necessary for the fit-testers to come close to you for observation, they need to ensure that they have their masks on. They should also have gloves on to protect themselves.

Additionally, you should disinfect the mask you are trying on, especially around the areas that you will touch or will be touching your skin. You can use disinfectant wipes for this, as long as you check that these will not affect the efficacy of the filtration process in the mask.

How Do I Put on Disposable Respirators?

Before you put on your face mask, here are some things you need to check.

  • Are you clean-shaven? Facial hair can prevent a clean, tight fit.
  • Have you done a fit-test with this respirator?
  • Is the mask clean and undamaged?
  • Have you familiarised yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions for putting it on?

Once you have checked for the above, you can start the process of putting on your face mask. Here is a poster from HSE that shows the steps, but to summarise:

  1. Take the respirator in the cup of your palm, with the straps hanging out of the way.
  2. Put it up on your face and hold it there.
  3. Pull the bottom strap over your head, and place it on the back of your head.
  4. Do the same with the top strap but place it just above your ears.
  5. Check to see if the straps are twisted, and adjust them if needed. Always pull both sides of the strap together and ensure a close fit.
  6. If the mask comes with a nose clip, press this to the shape of your nose.
  7. Conduct a user seal check by placing your hand on the filter and breathing in. The mask should be pulled in towards your face when you breathe in sharply, and should not loosen if you hold your breath for 10 seconds. If it does loosen, adjust it again and repeat the process.

What Else Do I Need for Workplace Safety?

As we mentioned earlier, clothing to protect against COVID-19, like plastic aprons are also important. They prevent the virus from getting on to your garments, which in turn prevents the infection from getting on to your skin and face.

Disposable gloves, if changed regularly after each interaction, prevent the spread of the virus not only on yourself but also to anyone else who interacts with you. These are especially important for essential workers, like doctors, nurses, care workers, and retail staff, all of whom have to interact and possibly touch people and items that could be carrying the virus.

While only essential workers should be working at this time, we ask everyone to stay safe. This means that your workplace should be protected not just from the Coronavirus but also any harmful fumes and dust that may be generated in your work process. If you wish to place an order, send us an email and we shall get in touch with you.

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