COVID-19: Personal protective equipment for workers

Information to help keep safe at work and at home.

Last updated: 30 September 2020

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Keeping safe at work and at home

To protect yourself and those you live with you should follow basic hygiene measures at home and at work. This is the best defence against COVID-19.

Basic hygiene measures include remembering to:

  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues
  • put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately
  • wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds)
  • avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • clean surfaces regularly such as touch screens, petrol pumps, EFTPOS machines, conveyer belts and self-checkouts.

Using personal protective equipment

You should also follow guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). See more on the health care workers or non-health workers pages.


PPE supply and distribution

PPE for New Zealand's publicly-funded health workers is ordered and distributed through a national approach to coordination managed by the Ministry of Health. This enables stocktaking and management of supplies at a national level, so PPE can be available where it is needed.

Under this system:

  • district health boards (DHBs), general practices, pharmacies, and several organisations with wide national reach, receive stock directly from the central supply in line with the principles for supply
  • district health boards order and distribute PPE on behalf of their local health and disability service providers
  • depending on the alert level and the organisation, PPE that is ordered through this national distribution model may be charged for
  • private providers use their own networks to source and purchase PPE, unless identified by their DHB as requiring assistance for the provision of urgent health services within their region.

The current guidance for the supply of PPE is outlined in the table below. Note that there will be exceptions to the guidance, and the overarching principle is that PPE will be available to those who require it. Any situations where organisations are being supplied outside of the matrix will continue for the time being.

Principles for supply

  • The central health supply enables PPE to be sourced to meet demand from essential publicly funded services that are in scope.
  • PPE for non-publicly funded services should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers. The Ministry may provide PPE if commercial or retail suppliers are unable to source it, and it does not jeopardise the central supply.
  • The ability to pay is not a consideration in prioritising distribution from the central supply.
  • PPE from the health supply must be used according to the relevant IPC guidance and processes published by the Ministry, and any orders from providers must be reasonable, evidence based and proportionate to demand.
  • In times of increased demand, decision-making criteria are used to understand where PPE is to be distributed first, based on the following:
    • the type of service that requires the PPE (criticality of the service, eg hospitals, CBAC)
    • vulnerability of the community for whom the service is intended (high risk populations)
    • the level of inventory: stock on order, on hand and consumption rates (manage risk with early identification of supply shortage)
    • urgency of need across the country (balancing competing demand).

Category

Service

Criteria

Guidance

Assessment

A

Critical essential services – Tertiary & Secondary services

PPE is a legislative or mandatory requirement for BAU work

Includes DHB tertiary & secondary healthcare services, diagnostic services, select non-health services (Customs, managed isolation facilities and managed isolation quarantine facilities).

Orders must be supported with appropriate usage and forecast information.

Full supply of PPE at all Alert Levels (via DHBs*).

B

Essential community health services that are publicly funded

Providing services into homes and unable to practise physical distancing

Recommended or required to wear masks at Alert Levels 2, 3, and 4 as per alert level risk assessment.

Includes aged residential care, disability care services, lead maternity carers and home and community support services. This includes Māori and Pacific health and disability providers.

Need to confirm the purpose for which they are ordering in line with IPC guidance, and that any orders are proportionate to demand.

Steady state PPE quantities should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers in Alert Level 1. Ministry is a supplier of last resort.

At Alert Levels 3 and 4 a full supply of PPE will be provided at no charge (via DHBs*). 

At Alert Level 2 PPE will be supplied at no charge, when supported by robust evidence of demand and forecasting information.  

At Alert Level 1 there will be no PPE supply. 

Full supply will be provided in the event of an outbreak in a facility.

All long-term residential facilities will be provided 1 week’s stock to store as a contingency in case of an outbreak in that facility or for use in levels 3 or 4.

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at Alert Level 1 where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints.

C

Core essential health services that are publicly funded

Providing a core medical service to the public, and unable to practise physical distancing

Recommended or required to wear masks at Alert Levels 2, 3, and 4 as per alert level risk assessment.

Includes general practice, urgent care, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians (not retail), etc. Need to confirm the purpose for which they are ordering in line with IPC guidance, and that any orders are proportionate to demand.

At Alert Levels 3 and 4 a full supply of PPE will be provided at no charge.

At Alert Level 2 masks will be supplied at no charge, when supported by robust evidence of demand and forecasting information. 

At Alert Level 1 there will be no PPE supply. PPE should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers in Alert Level 1.

PPE is not be provided from the central supply for the purposes of providing or selling to the public.

At all Alert Levels, where a general practice is carrying out testing for COVID-19, they will be supplied with the full PPE required to swab. 

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at Alert Levels 1 where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints.

D

Non-essential health services

Unable to put in practical physical distancing measures or are working at the public interface.

Recommended or required to wear masks at Alert Levels 2, 3, and 4 as per alert level risk assessment.

Includes non-essential allied health services, funeral directors, dentists, chiropractors etc.

PPE should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers. Ministry is a supplier of last resort.

Do not supply from the central supply unless designated as an essential service at Levels 3 and 4.

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at Alert 2 where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints.

E

Non-health essential services

Inability to practise physical distancing. Either non-public facing but staff that can be directed, or workers who require PPE for BAU work.

Recommended or required to wear masks at Alert Levels 2, 3, and 4 as per alert level risk assessment.

Includes plumbers, electricians etc who go into homes, waste management etc.

PPE should be sourced from commercial or retail suppliers. Ministry is a supplier of last resort.

Do not supply from the central supply unless designated as an essential service at Levels 3 and 4.

The Ministry will assess individual provider circumstances and may on a case by case basis supply PPE at cost at Alert 2 where there is demonstrated inability to secure PPE from regular commercial suppliers or demonstrated commercial supply constraints.
F Non-health essential services

Ability to practise physical distancing.

Recommended or required to wear masks at Alert Levels 2, 3, and 4 as per alert level risk assessment.
Mainly retail outlets, supermarkets, service stations, taxis (unless they have specified working with vulnerable people/suspected COVID-19 patients/patient transfer).  Do not supply from the central supply.

* Some organisations supplied directly from the central supply

Responsible use of PPE, coupled with a well-managed national distribution system, will ensure PPE is available where it is needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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