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“Now is the time to secure a supply of PPE for frontline workers” says Chief Executive Mike Robinson

British Safety Council has today called on the government to develop a clear plan to ensure stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) are available in the event of the second wave of Covid-19 later in the year. This follows the publication today of a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee which warns that the government does not have either a clear understanding of the equipment needed for clinical and care workers or how to distribute it. The report said:

As the response to COVID-19 continues, we are extremely concerned by the widely reported shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) faced by NHS and care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Department says it is committed to building up PPE stocks to meet longer-term demand, we are not convinced that it is treating the matter with sufficient urgency or that the procurement is robust enough.

British Safety Council is supporting businesses that are returning to work and offering advice on making workplaces Covid-19 secure as part of its Covid-19 Assurance Assessment Service. The guidance states that: “the universal use of PPE by all employees is not required for most work activities.” It goes on to say that while “medical and public health opinion is still divided on the issue of how much protection is afforded to a non-infected person by wearing face masks, there is more general agreement that face masks do reduce the risk of an infected person passing on Covid-19.” Face coverings are now mandatory on public transport and government guidance recommends their use as a “precautionary measure”.

Speaking from his home today Mike Robinson, chief executive of British Safety Council said:

“It is vital that we use the time we have now when new infections are falling and businesses are opening up to restock the nation’s supply of PPE. Now that face coverings are compulsory on public transport and face masks and other PPE being widely used by staff in a wide range of settings, supplies must be secured. We cannot repeat the scramble to get hold of PPE, or the mixed messaging, that we saw at the start of the coronavirus outbreak.”

Mr Robinson went on to say:

“None of us wants to see a second wave of this terrible virus, but we must apply the precautionary principle and prepare for the worse. I share the concern of the Public Accounts Committee that there is not yet a robust plan in place to ensure adequate stocks of PPE for carers in the NHS and in care homes. We have an opportunity to learn the lessons of the first wave, when procurement was inadequate and workers were put at risk now while we can.”