PPE guidelines: What are the updated PPE regulations?

In order to fast-track supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to NHS staff regulations have temporarily been suspended. The move was made in a bid to protect companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic. On March 28, Business Secretary Alok Sharma eased the requirements to ensure PPE and hand sanitiser will reach NHS staff quicker. Mr Sharma is easing administrative requirements and barriers to imports of these essential tools, without compromising on their safety.

By removing red tape – that is excessive bureaucracy to official rules and formalities – new suppliers and businesses will be able to bring their products to market in a matter of days.

Speaking about the reforms to insolvency law, Matthew Fell, Chief UK Policy Director, Confederation of British Industry, said: “The CBI welcomes these interventions at a critical time for business.

“The temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions, along with other measures, will give much needed headroom for company directors to enable otherwise viable businesses to use the government’s support package and weather this crisis.”

At the end of March HMRC confirmed manufacturers of hand sanitisers and gels will have their applications for denatured alcohol fast-tracked.


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The Business Secretary has also announced he will make changes to enable UK companies undergoing a rescue or restructure process to continue trading.

This will give the companies breathing space that could help them avoid insolvency.

Mr Sharma said on March 28: “The Government is doing everything in its power to save lives and protect livelihoods during these unprecedented times.

“Applying a common-sense approach to regulation will ensure products are safe and reach the market without any unnecessary delay, getting vital protective equipment such as face masks to frontline staff as quickly as possible.

“Today’s measures will also reduce the burden on business, giving bosses much-needed breathing space to keep their workers employed and their companies going.”

The temporary measures include:

  • asking the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authorities to fast-track PPE through the product safety assessment process and prioritise this activity over other market surveillance activity
  • allowing PPE equipment providing protection against COVID-19 which lack the CE mark onto the market provided products meet essential safety requirements
  • providing new guidance for local authorities and ports and borders enforcement officers on the import and safety testing of hand sanitiser

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Companies including Brewdog and Ineos have already stepped forward to offer creating hand sanitiser.

James Watt, Co-Founder of BrewDog said: “We started making hand sanitiser at our distillery in Ellon, Aberdeenshire in response to the national shortage and are providing it free to charities and frontline workers.

“We really welcome the government’s announcements today, which will mean that making this crucial product will become a much faster and easier process.

“The government’s flexibility in these unprecedented times allows us to do even more to help those most in need.”

INEOS Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe said: “We welcome today’s announcement.

“These measures will help INEOS as we build two factories in the UK and Germany in under 10 days, to produce and supply substantial quantities of hand sanitiser gel to the NHS for free.

“INEOS is a company with enormous resources and manufacturing skills. If we can find other ways to help in the Coronavirus battle, we are absolutely committed to playing our part.

What are the new PPE guidelines?

Last week, the Government revised its guidance on the use of PPE by health and social care workers, in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The main changes are:

  • enhanced PPE recommendations for a wide range of health and social care contexts
  • inclusion of individual and organisational risk assessment at local level to inform PPE use
  • recommendation of single sessional (extended) use of some PPE items
  • re-usable PPE can be used. Advice on suitable decontamination arrangements should be obtained from the manufacturer, supplier or local infection control
  • guidance for when case status is unknown and SARS-CoV-2 is circulating at high levels
  • recommendation on patient use of facemasks

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