Update on PPE and Health and Safety

Ambulance line up blue sky

As the country begins to transition out of lockdown, there are several factors that over the coming weeks may lead to an increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 within the community and subsequently in the workplace.

During the transition from lockdown to the opening of hospitality and shops etc, we need to further show our vigilance and ensure that we protect ourselves, our colleagues, and our families. It is vital that all staff continue to follow working safely practices and PPE guidance.

As a Trust, EEAST staff have done a great job adhering to key issues such as social distancing, cleaning of desks and workstations after use, and wearing face masks. Many of our staff have now received their second Covid vaccination, and those that have not will do so in the coming weeks. It is important that despite this, we continue to follow the health and safety guidance to ensure that we are keeping ourselves, our colleagues, our families, and our patients safe.

As previously mentioned, Covid Marshalls have been appointed across the Trust to undertake weekly compliance assessments on the national working safely guidance. There have been some areas where compliance has been and issue and areas of improvement relate to the placement of furniture in stations to allow for social distancing, decontamination of vehicles before and after use, and wiping down of frequently used surfaces.

Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser should be available in all areas. If you find that there isn’t any available where you are working, or what you have is running low, please escalate this to your line manager to ensure that stocks can be replenished.

Most areas have demonstrated a high level of compliance and we have seen a significant increase in compliance month after month in the Covid Marshall compliance audit reports.

Compliance with Health and Safety guidance and regulations is key to the safety of yourself as well as your colleagues and patients. The improvement notice and the notice of contravention from the HSE highlighted concerns relating to social distancing, compliance with working safely guidance and fit testing.

The Trust has put in several measures over the past few months to protect our staff. As well as the appointment of Covid Marshalls, this also includes the purchase of additional respirator hoods, practical training on the use of respirator hoods and the provision of accredited fit test training for staff. The Trust is currently rolling out the Force 8 half masks and all staff are being fit tested for these. Staff who fail the fit test will be provided a respirator hood.

There are some instances of PPE breaches, when performing AGP’s and in relation to eye protection.  Staff are reminded that PPE guidance (when to wear level 2 and level 3 PPE) whilst attending to patients has not changed. Level 2 for example includes wearing an apron which is the most frequently missed aspect. Information regarding PPE levels and requirements is also listed on EAST24 including images of correct PPE levels and donning/doffing procedures.

We are continuing to build upon the array of measures we have in place. PPE is one integral component in our standard precautions and should be used in conjunction with other measures, i.e., lateral flow testing, vaccination, decontamination, distancing and so on. PPE does not replace other measures and vice versa. We must continue to reduce risk by using all the measures we have available, collectively and as individuals.

Health and Safety training such as IOSH Managing Safely and NEBOSH Certificate in Health and Safety have been run for staff, with further sessions planned for later in the year. Staff will also soon be provided with training on risk assessments.

The team is currently reviewing the mandatory training for Health and Safety, and a new section on Health, Safety and Security will soon be added into the Trust corporate induction for new members of staff. The additional training programs and processes being put in place will further enhance the safety and security of our staff.

Published 8th April 2021