Sourcing Hand Sanitisers and Using Face Masks in The Workplace
Face masks and hand sanitiser have become symbols of the coronavirus pandemic and now they are playing their part in the safe reopening of workplaces as the lockdown eases.
As businesses assess the risks involved in returning to the workplace and look at precautions that can be taken to minimise those risks for their employees, customers and others attending the workplace, many are sourcing hand sanitiser and surface disinfectants that they can use. Furthermore, many are considering the use of face masks.
Sourcing hand sanitiser and surface disinfectants
The Health and Safety Executive regulates these biocidal products and has issued guidance so that employers can ensure the products they use in the workplace are safe. The HSE recommends that a good place to start to find out which products are suitable for everyone’s needs is their database of authorised products.
The database provides information about hand sanitiser and surface disinfectants that have been authorised under the Biocidal Products Regulation.
Product manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products are suitably efficient, including meeting any necessary testing standards. The HSE recommends that businesses discuss their requirements with product manufacturers to determine if a particular product meets their needs.
Product manufacturers are also responsible for providing information and instructions for the user on the product label. Employers must always make sure that they read and understand the label before using a product and follow the label instructions carefully to ensure that they are using the product safely and effectively.
Wearing a face covering is now compulsory on public transport. However, it remains optional in most circumstances and is generally not required in workplaces. Face coverings are not an effective way to manage the risks from coronavirus and should not be relied upon as a business’ sole risk management measure.
Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect the wearer. However, it may protect others if the wearer is infected and has not developed symptoms.
Face coverings are not classed as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Face coverings or masks are not manufactured to a recognised standard and are not CE marked. Furthermore, they do not provide a proven level of protection for work risks such as dust and spray.
If people choose to wear face coverings in work, employers should support them. Other measures that should be taken to manage the risk of COVID-19 infection are:
social distancing or, where that is not possible, reducing the number of people in the work area;
assigning (and keeping) people to shift teams;
increasing hand and surface washing.
Unlike face coverings, surgical face masks are manufactured to a recognised standard and are resistant to droplets of fluids and splashes. They are designed to be worn in medical settings to limit the spread of infection. Wearing them should be very limited outside healthcare activities because they are not generally considered to be PPE in non-healthcare situations. With a high demand for supply, they should also be reserved for those working on the front line.
Looking for more advice or guidance on this matter, or any other business-related issue?
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