10.0 Cleaners PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) – Explained
10.1 The Basics
WITH THE CURRENT COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK, THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH ADDITIONAL POINTERS HIGHLIGHTED IN ITALICS.
Cleaners' PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and refers to any kinds of special clothing or items you have to wear or use to carry out a certain task. It is a generic phrase used in non-cleaning scenarios as well such as property maintenance.
It’s important for cleaning because of the potential harm to people from cleaning substances such as bleach, or cleaning activities such as mopping floors. There is a duty to consider this form of protection in general compliance legislation, as well as common sense measures such as wearing gloves when dealing with bleach.
This is to protect both the person doing the cleaning as well as people using the cleaned area, and generally becomes more involved the more potentially dangerous and commercial a clearing activity is.
Whilst you and ourselves Easy Cleaners tend to use certain PPE items during regular cleaning tasks, but be open to consider then also for one-off tasks as well, even though this can take a lot of arranging just for one activity.
What Are the Regulations and Requirements for Cleaning PPE?
Within a work context, which can include volunteering capacities as well, there is a specific requirement to consider PPE under The PPE Regulations 2018, which is a development of the original Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, which boils down to when there is a risk to workers, PPE must be used and maintained.
This also stems back to the main Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for general health and safety considerations, and the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Practically, look for the ‘CE’ mark on any equipment you do purchase like gloves or hair nets, with verification that the PPE is fit for purpose and meets European Safety Standards.
Under the Covid-19 outbreak, there is specific PPC cleaning advice from the World Health Organisation here, guidance on the supply and use of PPE here from the NHS, and the government’s advice on personal protective equipment (PPE) for cleaning here and actual posters to use here.
What Procedures, Training, Toolbox Talks and Lists Exist for Cleaners PPE?
When deciding how you need to arrange the selection and use of cleaning PPE, each situation is different and needs it’s own unique determination – whether you’re training cleaning staff, or dealing with individually.
Plus, this varies for the context as well. So, the PPE for office cleaners (Personal protective Cleaners) will require more formal procedures in line with the business you’re serving and stored PPE on site, as opposed to a simple domestic clean where the cleaner has less risk and is mobile.
However, there are a few general pointers which will help you shape the right cleaning procedures and then develop appropriate procedures on how to use them.
The Cleaning Risk Assessment is key to all of this. This person, whether within a business or external Risk Assessor, will look at the areas you’re cleaning, the types of cleaning products and equipment needed, and the individuals involved with this – to then decide how it’s done.
Make sure they state exactly what PPE is needed, how and when its used, how it stored and cleaned, and what happens when things go wrong.
Also, you may require new posters and updates to people and procedures to adopt to things.
Make sure as well that you’re clear on how to deal with spillages and accidents for both the persons involved and the PPE, with knock-on effects of change-of and the cleaning of clothing itself.
PPE may also need to be regular changed during a clean, such as different coloured and types of gloves sued when cleaning toilet areas, with appropriate hand washing etc in between.
The Data Sheets and products details are essential to know as well, which will affect what Personal protective Equipment is required for that task and substance.
Storing the PPE is also to be considered, ideally as close as possible to where used, in a clean and dry areas, with locks and security.
In these Covid-19 times, you need to consider correct social distancing of cleaners between each other and other people, and any self-isolation measures being taken by people. Remember that there will be a greater risk of the virus infection from bodily fluids spotted, is more likely is areas where people touch and breath on like door glass. Handles and stair banister rails, and generally lasts longer on plastics than clothing PPE.
Also, how you are dealing with disposable PE items like gloves and aprons, and where they safely go. And basic housekeeping routines at these times like regular hand washing, even after there has been a change in the PPE.
The selection and use of PPE will also be influenced by people during these times, both the actual cleaners and people around them when cleaning. They may include keyworkers and frontline staff that still require these, and some degree of regard use of businesses.
How Do You Clean, Sanitize, Wash and Disinfect Cleaner’s PPE?
As above, this goes back to what your Risk Assessment is saying is required for the clean.
One important distinction is whether the PPE is disposable or not, in which case it won’t need ‘cleaning’ as such, however, suitable measures for disposing and maybe actual cleaners keeping safe and clean in the process.
Check the suppliers requirements as well, whether a form of full machine=-wash is possible, or more hand wash or even being taken away to specialists.
Careful timing and location of all your cleaning protective gear is also required – do people leave in a certain place, and how often are they then cleaned?
Under Covid-19 you must look at how cleaning PPE is cleaned and even disinfected and sterilized VERY carefully. You may need to allow time for any virus to naturally go within a few days, and as above as much disposable items as possible are really needed. Any person doing the ‘cleaning’ must also be correctly prepared for this.
What Actual Cleaning PPE Items Are Best?
In terms of what actual items of PPE that cleaners tend to use, here are some of the popular ones.
Under the current Covid-19 risk, the essential cleaning PPE will be gloves and aprons, ideally simple disposable ones, or with a careful routine of cleaning if not. For more severe cases and risks with say bodily fluids, look at masks and eye goggles/glasses.
Also, remember that during these is an increased demand which with restricted stock and supplies will cause prices to increase and delays in arrival. Therefore, check these carefully with any cleaning PPE supplier, and any mark-up that a middle-man cleaning business sis making in the process.
As well as the obvious benefit of protecting people from spillages or marks, aprons and pinafores can help store cleaning items like cloths and sprays in those that have handy pockets.
They can range from basic ones below waist, to more commercial ones covering the whole person and ‘hanging’ around the neck.
They can also be a variety of colours and designs, with any relevant logos and contact details for the cleaning firm using them.
Plus, you will need to consider where to safely store them, and to ensure that they are suitably cleaned themselves through a good washing machine or at least a basic wipe down (and being careful of stains and marks).
They may also need to be substantial and like gowns for larger and more hazardous tasks, including Hi-Viz jackets for greater awareness.
Under Covid-19, look out for the disposable ones that are full height.
These not only help protect hands from substances and harm, but can likewise help prevent germs and bacteria from people’s hands being directly transferred onto items being cleaned and used. Therefore cleaning without gloves should be very infrequent.
They are an important item to always use by default in most cleaning activities, although taking care to remove them in some scenarios and when you’re no longer cleaning. Also, to ensure they are changed for different cleaning activities, for example when you progress from the toilet areas and move to other tasks.
The most popular types are vinyl and latex, which can be powder-coated to allow them to fit to the contours of the hand. Vinyl is helpful for smaller jobs but can cause irritations for those with allergies. Nitrile is another type which are more durable than, say, latex gloves but without the risk of allergies.
Disposable ones are popular as they can be easily changed and then thrown away, although non-disposable ones are relevant for, say, heavy-duty activities and where regular cleaning is undergone. In these situations, make sure they are kept safe and clean themselves, including washing them.
For tougher jobs, like steam-cleaning, you will need thick gloves to prevent burns and harm.
Under Covid-19 times, the disposable gloves will be best, and looking into say different colours/types for different areas and risks being cleaned.
10.4 Hair Ties
For those with moulting or long hair this will mainly keep their hair from falling down and getting in the way of visibility when cleaning, but also help prevent any hair and dirt within them touching and affecting otherwise clean areas.
Often the individual cleaner needs to accordingly wear their own appropriate to their personal preference and hygiene.
These are often temporary ones stretching directly over the mouth and tied-up at the back of the head, the idea being to stop any fumes or virus affecting the cleaner.
If there is a risk of this coming from the cleaner, then you fist need to ensure that it is safe for them to be there anyway carrying out the cleaning job.
Goggles can be used to protect potential eye contact with substances, generally for more major cleaning activities rather than general light duties. In addition to obvious scenarios like sprays contacting eyes, they can help prevent any accidental spillages and splashes from when you move substances somewhere else.
Also ensure they are also clean themselves and don’t cause a visual hindrance if they get spray and substances on them.
10.6 Shoe Covers
These typically go over existing shoes and boots to protect them from spillages and cleaning, particularly involving potentially messy floor cleaning.
Check whether a whole new set of appropriate shoes or boots are in actual fact needed though rather than just covers over existing ones.
10.7 Going Green
There is quite rightly a renewed interest in going green and being eco-friendly in various cleaning activities. This can take effect on many levels, with a lot of PPE and products having labels and information to help guide you.
These firstly need checking to make sure they make sense and addresses genuine concerns, and secondly considering any consequences of using them. So for example, you may only want to use water without any cleaning substance to remove any need for pollutants, but be careful that you don’t end up notably using more water in the process, and throwing away any bottles/packing you do use in a non-recycle way.