Many managers and buyers, across every industry and sector, have been bewildered when choosing the right products to make their workplace Covid-secure.
Years of experience in ordering ink cartridges and stationery sadly do not count for much when it comes to picking out PPE and other essential items.
Yet, what was unfamiliar in early 2020 – hand sanitiser, disposable gloves and masks, and other such items – are now very much part of everyday life.
People assumed this range of supplies would only be needed temporarily, but now we can see that we’ll need them in place for the foreseeable future.
Purchasing by trial and error
The chances are you will have experienced some trial and error in buying the right items last year.
In the first half of 2020, global demand repeatedly outstripped supply. The situation moved quickly – leading personnel to look further afield than their regular partner organisations.
Many people simply ordered what they could, when they could – with the usual consideration to quality and suitability taking back seat.
We saw poor quality, overpriced hand gel, ill-fitting face coverings, and all manner of cobbled-together signage and screening, as we began to navigate what would become our new normal.
While OfficeTeam has always dealt in PPE – surgical masks for healthcare, being one example of many – other wholesalers bought up goods they had no experience or knowledge of, to ship to customers who knew even less.
New normal, new standards
Several months in, the pandemic has not yet stabilised, but our Covid-secure precautions have. We are all in a much better position to keep employees and customers safe — because we’ve had some practice. We’ve become more familiar with what needs to be in place – and what rules must be adhered to.
In terms of buying the right supplies, the picture is now much clearer – and, crucially, availability is good and constant. Given that we will be wearing our masks and wiping down surfaces with great regularity for some time to come, now is a good time to revise and reset your purchasing strategy. Are you buying the correct things? And only what you need?
Before we get onto advice about the best options to purchase, have you thought about what you do not require?
Remember that bare hands are easy to wash – yet every piece of equipment, every Perspex partition, every plastic and fabric cordon, provides another surface for germs, and must be kept as clean as possible.
So, what SHOULD you buy?
Let’s talk about hand sanitiser, first and foremost. You’ll see different advice from varying sources, but if it is at least 70% alcohol, it will be an effective coronavirus killer. The same principle applies to disposable wipes.
However, products containing alcohol are not always suitable. Alcohol can be very harsh and drying to skin when applied repeatedly. Is there a risk that employees may not use it properly as a result?
It is certainly not advisable to have alcohol-based products where there may be people with addiction issues. There are cultural and religious reasons, too, to consider.
The bio hygiene alcohol-free foam hand sanitiser we supply, for example, is halal approved – and known to be effective against Covid. It’s also very long-lasting and therefore cost effective. If you are unsure, look for the European standard EN4776.
When wondering what handwash is best to stock, our advice is to pick the one that your team likes the smell of – it doesn’t need any special properties as long as people are soaping and rinsing for the full 20 seconds, as the Government advises.
However, not all masks are alike. Our cloth face coverings are made to an anti-microbial standard, unlike many others – but workplaces are more likely to supply the disposable kind.
Make sure they adhere to the medical standard EN14683 like the masks we offer, protecting others from the wearer transmitting respiratory droplets.
Greater protection is available – for example, by looking for code FFP3 — but these types of masks are more commonly worn by construction workers, including when dealing with asbestos.
Finally, we must mention disposable gloves. In healthcare settings an examination glove would normally be required. Away from these environments, other types not classified as examination gloves would also be adequate. Many types of non-disposable gloves are also available
We hope this blog will give you confidence in your future purchasing.
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