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Personal protective equipment

Information on how to use and order personal protective equipment (PPE) for our employees.

The health and wellbeing of our employees and the people we serve is our highest priority.

Thank you to all our frontline staff who are doing an incredible job in very difficult circumstances. The work you do is of critical importance to vulnerable people across Derbyshire.

We're working with the government and doing everything we can to ensure our employees continue to get adequate supplies of PPE where they are needed and good, reliable information about how to use protective equipment.

At the present time, we have good stocks of all types of PPE, including full-face visors, and we are not anticipating any shortages.

We're closely following government guidance in providing PPE for our employees to avoid the spread of coronavirus whilst continuing to deliver vital frontline services.

It's important that we all use and allocate PPE in the best possible way and according to the latest guidance so that the available equipment reaches those who need it.

Updated advice about the use of facemasks, goggles and visors

On 6 May 2020 we updated our advice to employees about face protection for care work.

The new guidance recommends:

  • employees should wear a full-face visor in addition to a surgical mask when carrying out all personal care within less than 2 metres of a client.

More detail advice is provided in the PPE guidance document at the bottom of this page.

 Who this new guidance is for

The new guidance applies to any member of our staff who is providing personal care within less than 2 metres of a client.

This includes employees in our Adult Social Care and Health and Children’s Services departments.

It also applies to staff in schools and other children’s settings where prolonged face-to-face activities are carried out within less than 2 metres, where staff are currently required to wear face masks.

This guidance about full-face visors is for Derbyshire County Council and school staff only. Employees of private, voluntary and independent care providers should follow the advice given by their own employers.

Why has the guidance changed

We have received reports that the stitching or ear loops on some surgical masks are breaking or becoming loose.

In addition, some masks manufactured outside the EU do not distinguish between surgical masks and fluid-repellent surgical masks on the quality assurance information shown on the packaging.

Public Health England has also recently updated their guidance around facemasks and eye protection for care activities and our new guidance reflects this.

The issue with the quality of some surgical masks is not unique to Derbyshire – unfortunately it is a national concern.

As a responsible employer, we are acting quickly by changing our guidance to ensure our care workers have the maximum level of protection by using full-face visors in addition to surgical face masks.

Why use a full-face visor and surgical mask

Surgical masks provide protection for both the care worker and the client by protecting the mouth and nose from respiratory secretions. Fluid repellent surgical masks provide additional protection against splashing.

A full-face visor offers protection against respiratory droplets or splashing, with the surgical mask acting as a second layer of protection. 

The use of goggles instead of a full-face visor is not recommended. This is because goggles do not provide a shield in front of the surgical mask and certain designs may also allow droplets to enter the eye at the sides.

If your surgical mask or any other item of PPE is damaged it should not be worn and be discarded safely.

Public Health advise there is no evidence to suggest that employees have been exposed to higher risk where surgical masks have failed in use and prompt action is taken to replace them. We have sought the advice of Public Health England in developing this new guidance.

More information about PPE

If you have concerns about any of the PPE you are issued with, please tell your line manager immediately and do not use it. Managers should report any quality issues to the PPE supplies team by email:


Please remember, even when you are wearing PPE, it is still very important to wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing from colleagues and clients when you are not carrying out personal care.

It is also vital that you follow the instructions and training you have been given about how you put on and take off PPE. There is guidance for donning and doffing PPE provided by Public Health England.

In the documents attached to this page you'll find information about the use of PPE for different categories of work.

There is also workforce supply and demand guidance for managers.

Ordering PPE

We've changed the way PPE is ordered so that we can triage and prioritise all orders across departments through a central team.

All new orders should be sent by our managers using the order form attached to this page by email:

Orders will then be prioritised based on the stock levels available.