July 13, 2020
The First Rule of PPE
- It is just as important for the nose to be covered as it is for the mouth.
- It is also important to keep in mind that wearing gloves does not make proper and frequent hand washing unnecessary.
- The first rule of keeping your customers safe is keeping your employees safe.
By now, it is obvious to most that we will not ring out the year with quite the same carefree spirit with which we rang it in. There are changes that will not leave us for the conceivable future. Since it’s clear we will be using PPE in the workplace for quite some time it is important to make sure your protocols for employees are clear and consistent. Each employee should know what is expected from them and what to expect from others.
In circumstances where gloves are recommended, it is important to remember that they pick up potential pathogens just as bare skin does. That means that an employee wearing the same pair of gloves for hours at a time while coming in contact with various customers is not doing anyone any favors. If gloves are being utilized, they need to be changed between contacts with different patrons. It is also important to keep in mind that wearing gloves does not make proper and frequent hand washing unnecessary.
Masks are also only helpful if used properly. It is just as important for the nose to be covered as it is for the mouth. All employees need to be encouraged to develop proper habits regarding their masks. That means wearing them properly, washing reusable masks after each use, and handling them after removal as though they are contaminated. Develop the habit of not letting the outside of the mask touch your face during removal. Make sure employees are resisting the urge to touch a mask unnecessarily while wearing it, as the more times a mask is touched during wearing, the more cross contamination can occur between hands and face.
Uniform or safety components such as aprons should be washed between uses, and if possible, should not be shared between employees. Equipment such as salon chairs, keyboards, and office chairs should be used by only one employee if at all possible. Daily temperature checks at the beginning of each shift is also a sensible precaution, and at that time PPE for employees can also be checked.
While physical distancing is obviously easier to accomplish in some businesses (such as banks) than in others (such as busy kitchens) it is a good idea to have assigned employee work areas whenever feasible. The more employees are able to work without entering one another’s’ protective bubbles, the safer it is for everyone, including your patrons.
While some have found additional safety precautions challenging, it is helpful to focus on the benefits. As a society, we have made many changes over the years that were difficult to get used to, but that were clearly of benefit to all. And for every customer that doesn’t understand or embrace new protocols, there are many more that appreciate each step taken to ensure their safety. And the first rule of keeping your customers safe is keeping your employees safe.
And definitely do talk about it.