Case Study – Gloves
Jon works for an electrical company performing maintenance on LV switch gear. The work is hazardous and standard procedure requires the use of a range of PPE, including specialised high voltage gloves.
Jon knows it is essential that all PPE is maintained in good working order and is clean and hygienic. During a daily condition check of his equipment and PPE, Jon notices that his gloves are damaged and may no longer be fit for use.
Company guidelines state that where possible, workers are to have their own dedicated set of PPE rather than share equipment. However if this is not possible, then PPE needs to be properly and regularly laundered and disinfected.
Jon’s colleague, Trent, is currently on site and has a pair of specialised high voltage gloves that he is not using and would be happy to lend to Jon. Trent’s equipment maintenance log shows the gloves have been disinfected and laundered since they were last used.
Jon and Trent consult their manager and decide that in line with Department of Health advice on COVID-19, additional hygiene steps should be taken. After confirming that manufacturers’ guidelines would not be breached, it was decided that in the interim, Jon would wear a pair of disposable gloves under Trent’s specialised high voltage gloves. Trent’s gloves would be laundered and disinfected when they are returned to him. Jon’s manager agrees to supply disposable gloves for him to use and reminds Jon about good hand washing practices and not to touch his face while he has the gloves on. Jon is provided with information about how to put on and remove the disposable gloves to ensure the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is minimised, and provided a special sealed bin to dispose of the used gloves.
Case Study – Physical Distancing
Karen is an electrician who owns a small business specialising in domestic electrical work. She has recently taken on a new apprentice, Bob. Karen knows she has a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of Bob, herself and others at the workplace.
Because their work is continuing during COVID-19, Karen talked to Bob about the importance of minimising the risk of spreading the virus, particularly by regularly washing their hands, using the appropriate PPE for the task and maintaining physical distancing where possible.
Karen has also looked at Safe Work Australia’s guidance for in-home service providers. For each job, she speaks to her clients about the steps they are taking to prevent spreading COVID-19 while Karen and Bob are in the client’s home.
As a relatively new apprentice, Bob is concerned about how to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from Karen while having her supervise his work in the roof cavity. To help with this, Karen developed a work plan with Bob to make sure they would have enough room to work and maintain a safe distance.
This workplan includes:
- Anchoring the ladder at the entrance to the roof cavity and entering separately, so Bob can move away from the entrance before Karen comes up.
- Bob and Karen take their own tools into the roof space and do not share.
- Bob does not undertake any work while Karen is not present, for example if she needs to get tools from the van. In these cases, Bob will exit the roof cavity and wait at the bottom of the ladder for Karen to return.
- After they finish their work, they wipe down all the surfaces they have touched with antibacterial wipes; including the equipment, door handles, ladders and other surfaces. They thoroughly wash their hands.
Karen knows that work might take a bit longer than usual because of the extra precautions, so she has allowed additional time in their work schedule.
Karen and Bob go over the plan before commencing each task to ensure they both understand their roles and to make sure the plan is working effectively.
As Karen and Bob will not be working as close to each other as they are used to, they also agree to regularly check-in about what they are each doing. This means Karen will know when to inspect Bob’s work and provide him with advice when he needs it.
This case study was prepared by SafeWork NSW and provides practical examples of managing health and safety for COVID-19 as a regional NSW small business builder.
I am a small business tradesperson what can I do?
Specific employer actions
- Limit worker numbers onsite (if working indoors) have plans and systems in place to monitor and control the numbers of workers in the workplace at any given time. If outdoors, stay 1.5 meters away from others (where safe and practicable).
- Provide hand sanitiser and / or hand washing facilities for workers.
- Clean frequently handled surfaces such as amenities, plant, equipment, tools, materials which may be, or have been touched by others.
- Use toolbox talks to discuss precautions, including social distancing, hand hygiene, cough and sneeze behaviour. Consider other ways to provide the same key messages (such as social media group chats).
- Think about suppliers and contractors and use the same general advice (below) with your interactions with them.
General advice for workers, customers and others
- Consult, educate and support your workers. About infection control measures to prevent spreading the virus and their health and safety.
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed (or gloved) hands.
- Clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow. Put tissues in the bin
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
- Social distancing maintain a 1.5 metre distance to others (two arms length).
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Seek medical advice if you have a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath (call your doctor or healthdirect on 1800 022 222).