Disposing of Face Coverings and PPE used for COVID Secure Measures

Disposing of Face Coverings and PPE used for COVID Secure Measures

If you run a business or organisation

The UK Converment provided guidance on how businesses should dispose of face coverings and PPE that is used in conjuction with your business COVID secure measures.

You should:

  • provide extra bins for your staff and customers to throw away their waste face coverings and PPE used for social distancing, and any other additional waste, such as takeaway packaging and disposable tableware
  • make sure that staff and customers do not put face coverings and PPE in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities
  • make sure bins are emptied often so they do not overflow and create litter

You do not need to collect PPE separately but, if you do, you must describe and code your waste correctly.

Ask your waste contractor if there is anything else you need to do.

If your staff are using PPE at work to protect against risks other than coronavirus, they can throw it away in the usual way.

You can put used disposable face coverings and PPE in an ‘offensive waste’ collection (yellow bags with a black stripe), if you have one.

You may be able to use specialist PPE recycling services for some items. Ask your waste contractor.

Source: UK Gov

Disinfecting The Workplace

Disinfecting The Workplace

Disinfecting Premises Using Fog, Mist, Vapour or Ultraviolet (UV) Systems During the Coronavirus Outbreak

The HSE has issued this guidance. It notes that, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, fog, mist, vapour or UV treatments may be suitable options to help control the spread of the virus, by cleaning and disinfecting a larger space or room. Any use of these treatments for these purposes should form part of the COVID-19 risk assessment. Users must be competent and properly trained.

Selecting the correct treatment will depend on:

  • the size of the area to be treated, its shape and how easily it can be sealed off if delivering an airborne product
  • whether there are hard or soft surfaces – soft furnishings may act as a ‘sink’ for the airborne chemicals and emit them for some time after treatment (it may be possible to remove items such as sofas before treatment)
  • the type of business you have – some areas may be better suited to UV surface treatments than airborne chemicals or vice-versa.

Avoiding harm

Disinfectants applied as a fog, mist or vapour may reach harmful levels during delivery and UV systems may cause eye/skin damage if people enter an area undergoing treatment. Discuss with suppliers what safety features they can provide to prevent inadvertent access to a room during treatment. For example, safety sensors, simply locking rooms during treatment if feasible, or safety signage as part of a safe system of work.

The guidance says:

  • do not spray people with disinfectant
  • do not disinfect large outdoor spaces.

Ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you are using the product safely and effectively. Advice on the law on chemicals is set out.

The guidance goes on to cover sealing off rooms – which is necessary to avoid risk of human exposure to the potentially harmful treatments. Disinfectants may reach harmful levels during delivery and UV systems may cause eye/skin damage if people enter an area undergoing treatment. It suggests that rooms that are very difficult to seal may not be suitable for delivering airborne chemicals.

Source: Barbour 2020

Returning to Work and Risk Assessments

Returning to Work and Risk Assessments

Almost every risk assessment in your workplace may need to be reviewed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many organisations will also need to carry out a specific COVID-19 risk assessment.

Careful review of risk assessments will need to decide whether any of the changes put in place as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak will alter the risk rating in your existing risk assessments and if so what else do you need to do?

Identification of those at greater risk from the virus and those employees who may be shielding more vulnerable persons at home is paramount in order to decide whether you need to take further precautions for these employees.

Being able to distance employees through moving their desks 2m apart and staggering breaks, start time, shift patterns etc may be the assessments that are more straight forward to undertake. Assessing the risk of ‘buddy’ work systems and the impact of reduced staff within a manufacturing setting may prove more challenging.

A review of safe systems of work is necessary to determine whether distancing guidance can be observed either when traveling to a job or whilst carrying out a task safely. Other considerations may include whether appropriate control measures and PPE are present, if operators are working abnormal shifts or increased hours leading to fatigue or unfamiliarity with the operation.

When re-deploying staff to unfamiliar tasks has an appropriate training regime been undertaken and how can it be assessed and audited?

If you would like to discuss your individual workplace, or get general advice, then please get in touch via the contact page. We are always happy to help.