UK Government issues new guidelines on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – COVID update 17

Employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of staff and the responsible pharmacist must ensure that the pharmacy he or she is supervising is a safe environment for patients, customers and staff members.

Tue 7th April 2020 The PDA

The PDA is receiving numerous calls from employee members who have been told they are not permitted to wear PPE in the pharmacy and locums informed they will not be hired if they wear PPE at work. We believe this stance is completely unacceptable.

Employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of staff and the responsible pharmacist must ensure that the pharmacy he or she is supervising is a safe environment for patients, customers and staff members. Updated guidance from the UK government states that PPE should be worn in pharmacies where safe social distancing (at least 2 metres) is not possible.

Where social distancing measures cannot be implemented, fluid-resistant surgical masks (FRSMs) should be worn. No other forms of PPE are listed as necessary within a community pharmacy setting.

In light of this updated guidance the Responsible Pharmacist can legitimately decide to implement the use of the recommended PPE when social distancing is not possible; pharmacy owners are under an obligation to uphold Health & Safety regulations and should not be preventing staff from wearing government recommended PPE.

In addition, grants are being made available to all community pharmacies to contribute towards the cost of erecting barriers and/or screens within the pharmacy. This move is likely to be based upon WHO guidance: Rational use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) March 2020:

Use physical barriers to reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus, such as glass or plastic windows. This approach can be implemented in areas of the health care setting where patients will first present, such as triage areas, the registration desk at the emergency department, or at the pharmacy window where medication is collected.

We believe that a combination of screens (to prevent transmission of virus) and surgical masks (for staff members who cannot maintain a 2m distance from colleagues or patients and customers) should be put in place within all community pharmacies as a matter of urgency.

Whilst we are also calling on government to provide funding for adequate levels of PPE in community pharmacy, the responsibility for health & safety at work nevertheless lies firmly with employers.

PDA members who are concerned about the use of PPE in the workplace can contact us for advice on their specific circumstances.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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