Are ‘Teeth & Nails’ included in your Risks Assessments?

By Juliette Osborne

Published 21 February 2022

Employers’ responsibilities to workers regarding the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are changing from 6th April 2022.

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 2022 amends the 1992 Regulations to extend employers’ and employees’ duties in respect of PPE to a wider group of workers. You can find interim guidance explaining the changes.

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, Regulation 4 states:

Every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.

The accompanying guidance states that employers should, therefore, provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and training in its usage to their employees wherever there is a risk to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled by other means.

What does this mean to those working within Occupational Health?

No longer is being scratched or bitten considered “Part of the Job ”; no longer is arm protection optional; no longer can arm protection be considered an afterthought. 

Those working with patients with complex needs can be particularly vulnerable including Nurses, Carers, Healthcare Assistants, Ambulance Operatives, Learning Development Nurses,  Teachers, and Physiotherapists.

One of the reasons arms have been left vulnerable (in the past) was due to the guidance of ‘Bare Below the Elbow’ taking precedence over Health & Safety Law requiring Employers to protect staff from foreseeable risks. But this reason stems from ‘Teeth & Nails’ being omitted from Risk Assessments. It is so important that OH Professionals are aware of the front-line risks that are commonly overlooked.

The change in Health and Safety law means arm protectors for those at risk must be readily available and not just acquired after an incident has occurred: hence the inclusion of ‘teeth & nails’ in Risk Assessment is imperative.

So what is the solution?

Enter Charise Mullings.

Charise Mullings inventor of GIPSkins PPE – appropriate Arm Protectors for healthcare workers;

GIPSkins PPE – Grip Infection Protection Sleeves are –

Bite, Scratch & Tear Resistant, Reusable, Cleanable, Waterproof, Anti-Fungal, Fire Retardant, Non-Threatening & Discreet, Breathable, Latex Free, Bonded seams, trusted Dartex material. 

Charise said, “The reason I was motivated in creating GIPskins PPE was due to staff were being scratched, bitten and getting bodily fluids on there arms on a daily basis while delivering personal care .”

Charise met with hospital OH Department Heads to ascertain if scratches were an issue – to be told it is under-reported (due to the ‘part of the job’ mindset). She joined the IPS (Infection Prevention Society) to ensure the needs of infection control were taken into consideration when searching for a solution.

She eventually found a material that met the requirements of both infection control and also appropriate for the wearer. This was not the only consideration, the arm protection needed to be discreet & non-threatening – sensitive to the needs of the vulnerable clients.

The introduction of ‘arm protection’ for healthcare workers was considered radical at the time as many ‘old school‘ still believed being scratched and bitten was ‘part of the job’:

One care assistant was asked by someone if she self harms, due to the scratches on her arm. She had to cover her arms to avoid disparaging stares. In another case, a care assistant was bitten by a child and her bite had turned into sepsis. With appropriate arm protection, these risks can be considerably reduced.

After carrying out product reviews with the Infection Prevention Society (IPS) and extensive trials, GIPSkins PPE arm protectors were launched at the Care & Dementia Show. The feedback was fantastic with a favourite comment being, “It needed to be invented by someone who has done the job, to understand how much arm protection is needed.”  Next, GIPSkins PPE was introduced to the infection control sector. Again there was a fantastic response. The message? Bare Below Elbow EXCEPT when at RISK!

There was also feedback from pre-dementia support workers who found that despite patients feeling gloves were overused – when it came to personal care over 90% said they would prefer not to have skin-to-skin contact with staff as this reduces the risk of sexual arousal which is a subject that is becoming more of an issue.  

GIPSkins also got great feedback as a solution for those that need to cover their arms for cultural reasons.

Now seven years later NHS Hospitals, Ambulance Services, Care Homes & Learning Disability Schools have included GIPSkins PPE arm protectors as a part of their uniform. The main goal now is awareness and reduction in preventable arm injuries within the healthcare sector.

For more information on GIPSkins you can visit their website www.gipskins.co.uk. You can also find informative videos and testimonies on their YouTube channel 

GIPSkins PPE can be purchased online and are distributed by: Countrywide Health Care MC Products Ltd.GIPSkins PPE can also be found on the NHS procurement system (GHX & NEXUS).

Further reading

https://www.hse.gov.uk/violence/

https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/nhs-delivery-and-workforce/creating-a-healthy-workplace/preventing-and-reducing-violence-towards-staff

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5418898/

https://www.gipskins.com/1253-2/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXYIY5ekAx3J5MI914Z-Llw

 

Read original article here

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