If you’re sending workers into COVID-19 positive housing, whether social or private housing, we’ve put together some guidance to help prevent contracting COVID-19.
The risk for contracting COVID-19 is the air that you breathe. If virus is present then it is likely that you will be exposed to it.
The virus is held in droplets which form from coughing and sneezing. Recent research has shown that the virus can stay active in the air for up to 3 hours, on cardboard for 24 hours and plastic and stainless steel for 72 hours.
To mitigate COVID-19 infection from happening, PPE must be worn, if the task must go ahead in an environment where there is an increased risk of exposure.
Advice for Face Masks and PPE
ideally a respirator-type mask should be used. However, this must be face fitted, otherwise the seal will not be tight and ‘outside air’ will be able to enter. Furthermore, if the wearer has a beard, the seal on the mask will not work and a hood type mask, with its own air supply should be provided.
Alternatively – an FFP2 mask (the type used for dust) can be worn (again should be face fitted) with a face shield, this avoids any human droplets from a COVID-positive person, coming into contact with an individual.
The type of mask worn should be proportional to the risk of infection, i.e. frontline NHS workers need the most protection, while contractors (maintenance workers) would only encounter low-level risks when entering a COVID-19 positive household.
For further protection, gloves (such as nitrile) should be worn. And to avoid cross-contamination to the individual’s vehicle (and potentially home) a disposable gown/suit should be worn.
Once the job is complete, the PPE should be double-bagged and disposed of via incineration – the only way of doing this is via a hospital, clinic or specialist clinical waste contractor, where they have the appropriate facilities to dispose of these items
The Appropriate Method for Applying and Disposing of PPE
- Before entering property
- Wash hands with soap and water (if not available, use hand sanitiser)
- Put on a disposable gown, gloves, mask and face shield (the latter two pieces of PPE only need to worn if there is potential exposure to COVID-19, i.e. from a COVID-19 positive household)
- Enter property
- Explain why you are wearing PPE – it can be scary for the other person, so just reassure them that you are just protecting yourself and they are not at risk
- Do not physically touch the person, or get into too close contact
- Ask the person to stay in a different room to the one you are working in
- Carry out the work required
- Leave the property – while still wearing the PPE
- In an area – NOT your vehicle – where there are few people about, ideally no people
- Remove the gown first and put into bag
- Remove the face shield and put into bag – if you are using a non-disposable face shield, place this in a separate bag, tie the bag and then place it in another bag and seal
- Remove the mask and put into bag
- Remove your gloves and put into bag
- Without touching any part of your body, tie the bag and put this bag into another bag and seal it
- Wash hands with soap and water (or hand sanitiser)
- To dispose of the contaminated waste – contact your local hospital/clinic and they should be able to advise you on where you can take it for incineration
The latest research shows that the virus has a 4-day incubation period, i.e. it takes 4 days from exposure to showing symptoms, however, this can be different depending on your risk factor, so just keep an eye on your health, if at any time you develop symptoms, follow the NHS advice.
It is highly unlikely that the virus can attach itself to materials such as screwdrivers, etc. unless they have been in direct contact with droplets from coughing and sneezing. However, as this virus is emerging it is difficult to know what types of material the virus can attach itself to and whether the virus can be transferred via these types of materials.
If you think that your work tools may have been infected, whilst wearing gloves, clean them in alcohol, such as Industrial Methylated Spirit (IMS) at 60% and above. Do not touch them with your bare hands. All evidence suggests that the virus cannot survive for longer than 3 hours outside the body, i.e. at 37degC.
Risk factors: You are more at risk if you are over 55 years of age; obese; smoke (and potentially vape); have an underlying medical conditions (such as type II diabetes, hypertension, and conditions where the immune system is affected).
If you’d like further information surrounding PPE for coronavirus, or in any other COSHH situations, email [email protected], or call 020 7469 0200.