As you will be aware, Government has stated that those they consider to be most at risk of contracting COVID-19 within the UK are professionals working in health and social care sectors. This because these sectors are responsible for providing essential treatment and care for those who are confirmed to have COVID-19, are symptomatic or are highly vulnerable. For other workers and sectors, based on current evidence, there is very little scientific evidence of widespread benefit from PPE. Instead, practising good hand hygiene and social distancing is key to minimising the risk of infection.
We are aware however that the use of disposable gloves in the food industry is seen by many as essential for instance to protect against the cold of frozen food and protect damaged skin/dermatitis conditions caused by prolonged wet work and frequent handwashing.
With this in mind, if your business does use disposable gloves we would urge you to review and follow the Interim WHO Guidance of 7th April 2020 which states:
Gloves may be used by food workers but must be changed frequently and hands must be washed between glove changes and when gloves are removed. Gloves must be changed after carrying out non-food related activities, such as opening/closing doors by hand, and emptying bins. Food workers should be aware that wearing gloves can allow bacteria to build up on the surface of the hands, so handwashing is extremely important when gloves are removed to avoid subsequent contamination of food. Food workers should avoid touching their mouth and eyes when wearing gloves.
Disposable gloves should not be used in the food work environment as a substitute for handwashing. The COVID-19 virus can contaminate disposable gloves in the same way it gets onto workers’ hands. Removal of disposable gloves can lead to contamination of hands. Wearing disposable gloves can give a false sense of security and may result in staff not washing hands as frequently as required.
Handwashing is a greater protective barrier to infection than wearing disposable gloves. Food businesses need to ensure that adequate sanitary facilities are provided and ensure that food workers thoroughly and frequently wash their hands. Normal soap and warm running water is adequate for handwashing. Hand sanitizers can be used as an additional measure but should not replace handwashing.