Restrictions have recently eased in the UK, no longer enforcing people to wear masks in public spaces by law. Despite the reduced requirement for PPE, it still proves to be a significant tool in protecting us against the risk of coronavirus. This includes the workplace, where staff may have to be in close contact with colleagues, customers and visitors.
While restrictions have been lifted, there is still the chance that PPE will need to be reintroduced if cases were to rise. It might also prove a valuable tool if other infections threaten workplaces, especially with the reported resurgence of cold and flu this winter.
However, it can be difficult to ensure compliance, especially as workers fall into old habits and mistakenly believe the risks have disappeared.
This blog explains how to encourage ongoing PPE use among your workforce to create a safer environment.
- Utilise signage
- Find smart solutions
- Conduct a risk assessment
- Update your health and safety policy
Often, when people forget about using PPE, it’s because they’re busy or absorbed in other thoughts. In this time, it’s easy to stop taking the necessary precautions while you’re in a rush.
Placing signage around the workplace is a helpful way to remind staff to utilise PPE when appropriate. It’s particularly worth displaying signs in the areas where PPE is most required: for example, notices to wear masks in crowded, communal spaces.
Signs could relate to physical PPE, such as gloves and masks, but they could also be used to encourage hand hygiene and cleaning. As workplaces can be hotbeds for bacteria, such reminders can prove essential in improving hygiene and reducing the spread of infection. So, consider introducing handwashing signs in bathrooms or even reminders to use hand sanitiser at workstations.
Find smart solutions
As an employer, it is your duty to provide staff with the PPE they need to work safely. This means supplying PPE of a high enough quality that enables workers to do their jobs. However, it’s also possible to identify intelligent solutions that make it easier to comply with PPE at work.
A perfect example of such a solution is the Orbel hand sanitiser. Like any other good sanitiser, it provides significant germ-killing power, eliminating 99.9% of bacteria during its 15-second application process.
However, beyond this, it features a wearable design that means staff can use it on the go, eliminating the excuse of being away from handwashing facilities or being too busy for hygiene. It also contains innovative technology, with the included rollerballs and cooling gel offering stimulation that reinforces habits and encourages users to sanitise their hands more frequently.
By employing clever PPE such as this, you can actively train your staff to utilise it, creating a consistently safer environment in the workplace.
Another consideration is to make sure you are purchasing PPE that your staff can use comfortably. If it feels like a hindrance, they are much less likely to comply. So, aim for PPE that fits the purpose and doesn’t harm your employees (such as irritating skin or being ill-fitting).
Conduct a risk assessment
Another way to encourage the appropriate wearing of PPE at work is by conducting a risk assessment that analyses where PPE may be most needed and the risk if it isn’t. This will enable you to accurately guide staff and focus on PPE in the areas it matters most, instead of excessive use that reduces the chances of compliance.
Start by taking stock of your workplace and the hazards that may occur. This includes examining each area and asking questions such as:
- Is this a busy area?
- Do staff work closely together here?
- Are visitors common in this area, including customers?
- Is there ventilation?
- Will staff be likely to encounter germs here (such as using communal facilities, like printers)?
If a specific area or task seems hazardous, it is worth considering how PPE can be leveraged to reduce the risk and keep staff safe.
Remember to revisit your assessment if the risk level adapts – for example, if local case numbers rise or government guidance changes. This will ensure you have the proper protection in response to the threat posed to your business.
When aiming to improve PPE compliance in your business, the essential first step is communicating your expectations to staff. This will ensure they know the protocol to follow and that your entire workforce is on the same page.
This includes making staff aware of the hazards that face them, how PPE will help to overcome barriers and what might happen if the correct procedures aren’t followed. Aim to explain the risks in terms that they will understand, such as the knock-on effect to their jobs or departments specifically or how their colleagues could be negatively impacted.
Remember that this communication should be two-sided so that employees feel comfortable approaching management with their concerns and thoughts. In some cases, staff members may not be able to use PPE for health reasons, which must be accounted for. Similarly, staff will have their own opinions about PPE use, such as where it is needed or concerns about their colleagues’ compliance. Listening to this can help you determine how effectively your processes are working and where intervention might be needed.
Update your health and safety policy
In the bid to communicate the importance of PPE to the workforce, you should consider including them in your health and safety policy. This is especially critical if you have not updated your policy since the pandemic and added in the new potential risks.
Start by laying out the expectations from both sides. This consists of what you will provide as an employer, and how you expect your employees to use their PPE in your workplace. By placing this into an official document, everyone is held to account for their part, and there should be no room for confusion.
Once your health and safety policy has been updated, circulate it around your business and ensure staff have constant access to it when they need a refresher. This will encourage their understanding and ability to comply with the rules set out to do their jobs safely.
Although it’s tempting to simply put the coronavirus pandemic behind us, there are no guarantees that the danger is over. Businesses should now be more aware of the need for preventative strategies than ever before, whether it’s dealing with COVID-19 or any other infection that may strike the workplace.
By continuing to utilise PPE where necessary, you can fulfil your duty to keep your staff safe whilst limiting potential outbreaks. But providing PPE is only part of the job; you also need to implement appropriate measures that encourage compliance and empower employees to protect themselves.
If you successfully create a robust health and safety plan for your business and teach staff to follow it, you will benefit from a safer working environment, where productivity is higher and staff sickness is lower.
If you need support in introducing PPE to your workplace effectively, we can help. We provide helpful solutions for businesses, including the habit enforcing Orbel hand sanitiser.