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In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic and upcoming winter flu season, community pharmacy employers who fail to ensure the safety of their staff will face action under Health and Safety Legislation, the PDA warned in its latest safety update last week.

Community pharmacy staff need to be adequately protected during the current pandemic and “it is important that measures are taken to ensure that risks to this crucial sector of the workforce are mitigated as far as possible, be that by the NHS or pharmacy employers,” the Pharmacists Defence Association (PDA) said.

Much of this latest advice from the pharmacy body is based on successful initiatives used in pharmacies in other countries and remains worthy of consideration as the UK moves ahead into the winter season.

The PDA has advised community pharmacists to wear disposable gloves, aprons, and personal protection kit to prevent the risk of transmission of virus.

“The risk of transmission of virus fragments via surfaces including seating, counters, bank card machines, money, and pens provided for signing prescriptions as well as the stock that is handed over by a member of the public during a transaction makes the wearing of disposable gloves prudent,” PDA added.

The PDA has urged the people to wash their hands regularly when they are in public or visiting a pharmacy. “Regular hand washing is important for public protection but expecting staff to go and wash their hands after each potentially risky contact is impractical,” it cautioned.

Clothing
Clothes worn during the working day in a pharmacy could very easily attract and retain virus particles. Thought should be given to wearing a set of clothes in the workplace, which is then immediately removed and laundered once returning home. Different attire should then be worn at home, so as to protect other members of the family where appropriate, the PDA said in its advice to the pharmacists.

Work in shifts
The PDA has suggested the community pharmacies to enhance their business continuity and resilience by splitting the pharmacy workforce into two teams working early or late shift, with no crossover.

This shift work has reduced the risk of coronavirus infection spreading throughout the entire workforce in a particular pharmacy, the association has added.

Cleaning
The PDA has also asked the pharmacists to clean high-risk areas such as door handles, counters, pens, shopping baskets, all counters as well as communal staff areas on daily basis to ensure the safety of the pharmacy teams.

Many retail outlets are enabling members of the public to wipe down and clean their own shopping basket handles.

“All types of PPE must be donned and removed, taking care not to introduce contamination in the process. In particular, when removing masks or gloves care should be taken so as not to touch the outside surface which may carry virus particles and ensure items are disposed of safely,” the PDA added.

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