Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a protective measure that can help employers, workers, and the public stay safe. It is the final line of protection when it’s not possible to stay at least 2 metres away from people at the work site, and engineering (like physical barriers that prevent contact) or administrative controls (changing how we work) can’t reduce the risk of COVID-19 being passed from an infected person to another.
PPE is most necessary in health care settings, and includes face masks, eye protection, gowns, and gloves. Employers are responsible for ensuring that any workers who use PPE receive training around proper wearing, removal, use, care and/or disposal. The Worker's Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) has resources on this subject to help employers provide that training. They include:
- What protection do you need to do your job safely?
- When and how to wear a mask.
- Respiratory Protection PPE Code of Practices
Employers need to determine what PPE, if any, they will require. Every workplace is different and will have different requirements. Employers will need to complete a workplace risk assessment, which will help inform decisions about what type of PPE is needed to protect employees so we can make best use of PPE during this time of worldwide shortage.
The WSCC can assist employers looking to re-start operations and have them running safely. Employers can find more information and resources to help them do this on this page.
There is a lot of information to take in when it comes to COVID-19 and PPE. The GNWT has a document that provides employers with helpful information on when you need to use PPE, what types of PPE there are, and how they can control the spread of the virus. You can read it here.
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in high global demand for PPE. This has made it challenging to get the PPE employers may need. Many NWT individuals and businesses are manufacturing or selling PPE, cleaning supplies, and non-medical face masks, and you may be able to get the products you need in the territory.
A list of these manufacturers and sellers can be found here.
The Government of Canada has also launched a PPE Supply Hub website to help organizations buy and sell PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a business or employer in the NWT looking to buy PPE or you are selling PPE, this website has resources that can help you get the products you need. The Supply Hub includes information on NWT businesses and individuals manufacturing and supplying PPE, cleaning supplies, and face masks that are listed above. It can also connect organizations with federal, provincial, and territorial sector resources, resources for Indigenous businesses, and lists of Indigenous businesses supplying PPE.
Strictly speaking, non-medical masks are not considered PPE. But the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer is recommending residents use re-useable cloth or disposable non-medical masks when in public places and physical distancing cannot be done.
Employers may determine through completing workplace risk assessments that these masks can reduce the risk of COVID-19 being spread in their workplace.
To learn more about non-medical masks, the GNWT has a lot of helpful information on this subject—including a video—you can find on this page.