When the Presidential Coronavirus task force addressed the nation a few weeks ago, they put out a plea to the construction industry for unused N95 masks to be donated to hospitals. For many Americans, this might have been the first time they realized that the types of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) being worn by medical professionals is also an important part of other occupational sectors.
While all news outlets are reporting widely on the need for PPE for healthcare workers, it is important to make sure that employees on jobsites are following protocol to protect themselves, their coworkers and families.
OSHA regulations call for employees to wear PPE for a variety of job hazards, including arc flash. According to OSHA: “employees must wear protective equipment for the eyes or face wherever there is the danger of injury to the eyes or face from electric arcs or flashes or from flying objects resulting from electrical explosion.”
In the past many contractors and industrials opted to share equipment between employees to reduce PPE cost and stock. While it may sound strange given today’s circumstances, sharing equipment has been a well-established practice. It has not, however, been commonplace for shared equipment such as hoods, suits and face shields to be properly disinfected between uses. The rise and spread of COVID-19 is forcing those habits to change.
- No sharing. Many companies are increasing their PPE stock to ensure each worker is assigned their own equipment to avoid cross contamination.
- Disinfect. Even if you prohibit the sharing of PPE, it’s important to ensure that all materials that are touched are properly disinfected. Knowing the difference between cleaning and disinfecting is crucial. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines cleaning versus disinfecting.
- Follow manufacturer and ASTM standards. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on proper care for the equipment, and consult the applicable ASTM standards to avoid compromising the protective properties of the equipment
At this time, it’s important that we all play a role in curbing the spread of the Coronavirus, at all times and in all places. Proper procedures and care of PPE we will help flatten the curve and keep workers and their families safe. For more information, please contact your Account Manager or reach out to us online today.