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PPE to have as a business: Small business guide

Person with face mask using computer

Introduction

Many small businesses have been greatly affected by COVID-19, whether through a temporary closure or implementing social distancing guidelines. One of the primary ways businesses are limiting the risk to their employees and customers during this uncertain time is wearing PPE, also called personal protective equipment.

What is PPE for businesses? 

Personal protective equipment is essential for limiting the transmission of the virus. The PPE that businesses are using include:

The purpose of PPE is to protect individuals from airborne particulate matter that may contain COVID-19 coming in contact with others. 

Is it necessary for my small business to have PPE? 

The  Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) states that all "employers must take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of workers." 

Small businesses must use protective equipment to slow down the spread of COVID-19. The use of PPE protects employees from contracting any possible diseases, infections, and other health and safety risks in the workplace. Social distancing is essential, but the World Health Organization also recommends that businesses adopt a "do it all" approach to keeping their employees and customers safe.

Types of masks and face coverings to be worn in your business include:

Different types of PPE for small businesses

PPE Guidelines 

  • When to wear PPE?  
  • How-to put-on PPE? 
  • How often you should wash your PPE 
  • Avoiding any contact with your face area 
  • Social distancing and providing barriers 

 

When to wear PPE? 

During this uncertain time, anyone interacting with your business in person should wear PPE. It is critical and mandatory that PPE be worn when:

  • You are in public;
  • There is the risk of coming within six feet of another person;
  • You are in a building with poor air circulation;
  • You are around the elderly or those with weak immune systems.

 

How-to put-on PPE? 

How to put on PPE

The CDC recommends: 

  • Gather your protective equipment needed;
  • Perform hand hygiene using anti-bacterial soap, finish off with hand sanitizer;
  • Put on your isolation gown (if a gown is necessary for you);
  • Put on your face covering or face mask (both your nose and mouth area should be covered and protected);
  • Put on a face shield or goggles (if necessary, for your occupation);
  • Put on gloves (should cover your wrists and be over your gown if wearing one).

As a business, train all of your employees on how to use PPE correctly. Educate employees on how to make sure PPE properly fits, the appropriate use of PPE, how to remove PPE without touching the face, maintenance, and disposal of single-use PPE.

 

Can disposable medical face masks be sterilized and reused?

No. The World Health Organization states that "Disposable medical face masks are intended for a single use only."

 

How often should I wash my PPE?

Clean it 24 hours before its next use by following the manufacturer's instructions. 

Reusable face masks such as bandannas, scarves, or masks made of fabric can be washed in your regular laundry using hot water and tumble dried in the dryer on a high setting. Many cloth face masks with elastic loops around the ear may lose their stretch when put in the dryer. In this case, consider handwashing with soap.

If you wish to hand wash your coverings, you can do so using hot, soapy water, scrubbing for at least 30 seconds, and hanging them in a well-ventilated area to dry.

Store your masks in a clean setting when they are not in use. They should not be damp or wet. It is recommended to clean your masks after every wear to reduce the risk of transmission.

 Social Distancing and Barriers for small businesses 

  • Implement flexible hours to limit the number of employees in the workplace;
  • Increase physical space between employees and customers;
  • Use signs, tape marks, physical barriers such as sneeze guards

 

Seven ways to implement COVID-19 regulations in your business

7 ways small businesses can implement PPE guidelines

 

Are employers required to provide PPE? 

Employers must provide a safe and comfortable working environment, which means the employer is responsible for ensuring that PPE guidelines are met within their business. The employer is encouraged to provide any PPE necessary to their business, such as disinfectant sprays and wipes, barriers to ensure social distancing guidelines are upheld, and the supply of masks. Communicating the PPE and mask policy can be done by: 

  • Creating a policy that is clear and understandable;
  • Train employees on the policy and who is exempt from it;
  • Require that all staff, customers or visitors wear a mask indoors, with some exceptions, including children under five years of age, people with preexisting health conditions, and employees in designated areas or protected by a physical barrier. 
  • Post signs at all entrances, reminding everyone to wear a mask. 

 

Where to get PPE for businesses 

There have been shortages of PPE products due to panic purchasing and strains on supply chains. With a dramatic increase in demand for personal protective equipment, the rise of counterfeit PPE that isn't certified or meet quality health standards has flooded online marketplaces.

Supply and Protect Inc has made it their priority to provide PPE that is trusted and manufactured in Canada. We require all necessary product certifications and licenses to be listed by our vendors, cutting out the vast amount of counterfeit and substandard products on the market. For this reason, Supply and Protect is a reliable marketplace for legitimate PPE products for businesses. 

For what is otherwise a very fragmented marketplace - Get everything you need to re-open your business safely from one site. Put whatever products you need from multiple vendors into your cart, pay once, and orders are immediately relayed to vendors for fulfilment. 

Next article The complete guide to medical gloves: Nitrile vs latex