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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) usage

Last Modified: 28-Feb-2022 Review Date: N/A

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Refer to this entry for information on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when practising and delivering child protection services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department of Health Directions and Police Mission Critical Areas Directions will impact child protection officers entering WA Health facilities and WA Police Mission Critical Areas to undertake certain duties.  For information on vaccination requirements for Department officers refer to the entry Vaccinations – Directions for Department officers.   

This entry should be considered alongside all approved information provided on the WA Government announcements site.  Department's Community Services Operational SharePoint site, the COVID-19 Response Management site, the Department's Director General Broadcasts and the Department of Health.


Your safety and the safety and wellbeing of children, parents and families who come into contact with the Department must be the focus and priority in all interactions.

For any matters or actions in your work that relate to the potential transmission or diagnosis of COVID-19 you should:

  • consult your line manager
  • escalate issues to your district director as required, and
  • ensure accurate recording, including documenting rationales for the cancellation of activities/actions.

You must continue to refer to all usual practice guidance contained in Casework Practice Manual entries, except where an item on this page overrides guidance outlined in that entry.

The Department must continue to deliver critical essential services to the community.

Process Maps

Information and Instructions

  • Physical distancing
  • Advice to clients
  • Support for staff
  • Community Service Organisations requests for face masks
  • Ordering face masks and Personal Protective Equipment
  • Key Messages
  • Personal Protective Equipment and Department Guidelines
  • WA Health Advice for use of Personal Protective Equipment
  • Putting on and Removing Personal Protective Equipment
  • Business as Usual Personal Protective Equipment
  • Training
  • Further Information
  • Physical distancing

    To reduce the spread of illness, you should:

    • stay home if you are sick
    • refrain from handshaking as a greeting
    • promote good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene
    • have lunch at your desk or outside rather than in a crowded lunchroom
    • clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly
    • always sign-in using the SafeWA app or a physical contact register at applicable locations
    • reconsider non-essential business travel, and
    • consider if large gatherings can be rescheduled, staggered or cancelled.

    During periods of lockdown you should follow all health advice provided and:

    • wear a mask indoors, outside in public and on public transport
    • encourage clients to wear masks during face-to-face contact, and
    • hold meetings via videoconferencing or phone call.

    For further guidance on staying safe in the workplace please visit the COVID-19 Response Management site and the Safe Work Practices and Wellbeing page on The Common.

    It's ok to advise clients that you are making alternative arrangements to ensure their health and safety. If possible, arrange for meetings to occur by video or teleconference.

    When meetings must occur face to face, take precautions, such as: 
    • booking a large enough space that physical distance can be maintained
    • encouraging hand washing before and after the meeting
    • wearing a mask that covers the mouth and nose. Encourage other attendees to do the same
    • only having essential attendees at the meeting, and 
    • using a combination of face to face and video or teleconferencing.

    Refer to the Department of Health website for more information on physical distancing.

    During this time of physical distancing and increased use of online communication, the eSafety Commissioner has released tips on how to stay safe and have more positive experiences online, visit COVID-19 esafety Commissioner


    Advice to clients

    ​If there is a lockdown, or other safety concerns, you may need to cancel face-to-face meetings or visits. In these cases you should:

    Advise the client that the meeting or contact has been cancelled due to:

    • a high-risk situation arising where it is necessary to protect the health and safety of Communities' clients and staff, and
    • specific Government guideline, such as a lockdown or the need for an individual to self-isolate to contain and minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus 

    Advise the client that you will contact them to reschedule this meeting and arrange a suitable alternative.

    Explain to the client that they can contact the local Child Protection district office by phone if you require support during business hours otherwise the Statewide Referral and Response Service (Crisis Care) after hours on 9223 1111.

    Emergency travel during lockdown

    If there is an emergency and a child or others need to travel in or out of a region in lockdown, you should consult with the TL. The following situations may constitute an emergency where travel during a lockdown may be authorised:

    • supporting victims to flee family and domestic violence
    • transporting a child to an urgent care arrangement following statutory action or a care arrangement breakdown, or
    • transporting a child for other safety reasons

    In these circumstances, you will need to provide a letter to Authorised Officers when crossing travel borders to prove you, or your client, has a genuine need to travel. For a template letter, access the Communities letter for intrastate travel in related resources.

    If you are travelling with a client, you will need to present your ID badge. If a client is travelling without a staff member, you should include the following additional information in the letter:

    • A brief explanation for why emergency travel is required. You should not include confidential information.
    • Details of the individuals travelling, including any children.
    • Details of all relevant travel addresses, for example, where a child will be collected from and where they are travelling to.
    • Dates and approximate times of travel.

    Be aware that an individual travelling during a period of lockdown may need to follow restrictions, as advised by the Authorised Officers.


    Support for staff

    Line managers should ensure they are providing support for their staff at this time through simple actions such as:

    • checking in with direct reports regularly

    • offering empathy and understanding

    • praising staff for the work they are doing

    • encouraging staff to access counselling through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and

    • prioritising the health and wellbeing of staff.

    Staff should feel supported to undertake the essential services they deliver, and staff wellbeing should be prioritised and maintained to ensure a stable workforce. Continue to use supervision as a forum to develop case plans and consider how case plans may need to be amended due to COVID-19.   


    Community Service Organisations requests for face masks

    ​For Department of Communities service providers requiring face masks, please email and provide the following information:

    • organisation name
    • number of frontline staff working over the next five days
    • number of vulnerable individuals supported
    • key contact person
    • mobile phone and email or best contact
    • whether that organisation can pick up the masks from Belmont, and 
    • a delivery address (if the organisation cannot pick up the order).

    Children under 12 years of age are exempt from wearing a face mask.

    Once the order is processed, the preferred option is to pick it up from Stewart & Heaton Clothing Company, 150 Francisco St, Belmont. However, if this is not possible, the order may be delivered so please make it clear at time of order that this needs to occur.

    Whilst they endeavour to have masks available to most service providers within the next 24 hours, please note some delays may be expected. 


    Ordering face masks and Personal Protective Equipment

    ​Visit the Information on Masks page for information on how to access face masks.

    For information on COVID-19 PPE Kits available for confirmed cases or if there is a high number of community transmissions, refer to the Personal Protective Equipment - locations and contacts  (in related resources).  


    Key Messages

    Guidelines outlining specific, evidence-based advice regarding when to use PPE, which type of PPE to use and how it should be used can be found on the WA Health website

    Community transmission levels in Western Australia and PPE use

    All guidelines for PPE use in Western Australia (WA) are based on the most current infection prevention and control advice and are proportionate to the level and extent of community transmission of COVID-19 in WA.

    Community transmission is not simply about case numbers; it is determined by the number of cases in which the source of the COVID-19 infection cannot be traced.

    The Department of Health assesses the level of COVID-19 community transmission daily and is ready to communicate any adjustment to its health advice as required.

    Guidelines for PPE use in community settings

    Personal Protective Equipment use as recommended within the setting of a COVID-19 pandemic should be used in addition to routine PPE recommendations.

    Workers in contact with people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are showing signs of COVID-19 or who have been directed to self-isolate by a public health professional or WA Police Force should check the latest health guidelines at WA Health website for instructions on what actions to take.

    The guidelines for PPE use in community settings have been broken up into two documents:

      1. Workers in community settings.
      2. Professional first responders.

    The latest information and guidelines about PPE and its use can be found on the WA Health website.

    What is the best defence against COVID-19

    The use of face masks and physical distancing measures and standard precautions such as good hand/cough hygiene are the first lines of defence against COVID-19 in all settings.

    The Department of Health recommends that workplaces revise working practices where appropriate to allow for physical distancing and to reduce contact with other people and their possessions.


    Personal Protective Equipment and Department Guidelines

    Department staff are learning to live and work in the 'new normal' of COVID-19 in both frontline and support positions. Staff may have increased concerns regarding potential exposure to COVID-19 while undertaking their work duties.

     It is critical that staff understand what should be used for every day, business as usual activities and what should be used for a COVID-19 response where there is a Department of Health mandated requirement. In this way we can ensure staff and client safety and conserve WA valuable stock of PPE to protect our staff and the wider community against COVID-19.

    Use of Personal Protective Equipment

    Re-used or inadequately cleaned PPE can pose significant risks to both the workers and the community. PPE must be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

    Cloth masks are washable, but if they become damp you must remove it, put on a fresh one and place the used one in a plastic bag for washing at the end of the day.

    Continue physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene and avoid touching the font of the mask. Remove it carefully by touching only the straps, to avoid self-contamination. Hand hygiene should be performed after removal of the mask.

    For further information on how to make your own cloth mask, visit the Department of Health website.


    WA Health Advice for use of Personal Protective Equipment

    The Department of Health has released Advice for use of personal protective equipment for workers in community settings (WA Health PPE Advice) which outlines the level of PPE use appropriate for potential or actual COVID-19 events for community service workers. This advice is aligned to the work of Department frontline staff.

    The WA Health PPE Advice is a mandatory tool for Department staff when determining what level of PPE is appropriate for a potential or actual COVID-19 situation. It is important to note these guidelines do not provide guidance on what PPE should be used by employees to undertake their day to day roles. This is defined in Department PPE policies and practice directions frameworks.

    Use of PPE when there are confirmed cases or high levels of community transmission must be in line with the PPE included in the COVID-19 PPE Kits. See the section 'Ordering face masks and Personal Protective Equipment' for further details.

    Table A – WA Health decision tree Table A is an extract from the WA Health PPE Advice indicating what PPE is used for a COVID-19 response in low and high community transmission. Where there is a suspicion of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, staff should seek advice from WA Health through calling the Coronavirus information helpline on 13 COVID (13 268 43).

    Table B – WA Health Personal Protective Equipment is an extract from the WA Health PPE Advice providing guidance on when more PPE than normally used in your everyday role, should be used in conjunction with routine infection control measures. Note that masks referred to in this table are surgical masks. Cloth or other types of masks may be required in other settings, according to current health advice.

    Table A page 4 Advise for use of personal protective equipment for workers in community settings

    Table B page 5 Advice for use of personal protective equipment for workers in community settings

    You can also access these tables on page 4 and page 5 in the resource in related resources.


    Putting on and Removing Personal Protective Equipment

    It is important that hand hygiene is observed before PPE is donned, and in-between removal of each piece of PPE. 

    Extract from WA Health advice PPE Advice for WA Police attending known COVID-19 residents


    Business as Usual Personal Protective Equipment

    Current Department policies and procedures/practice directions regarding everyday use of PPE should be followed for PPE usage. The above WA Health PPE Decision Tree does not define everyday usage of PPE.

    To determine whether PPE is needed to undertake day to day work, consider:

    • what PPE you use in your role before COVID-19, and

    • what is specified in policy or procedure manuals.

    Positions that require only routine infection control would be positions with no external client control such as office-based roles in affected areas – these roles should: 

    • regularly wash hands with soap and water

    • wear a mask where directed by current health advice

    • use the SafeWA app or the physical contact register at relevant locations

    • use hand Sanitiser (70-90% alcohol content) - can also be utilised where hand washing facilities are not available, and

    • use disinfectant wipes to clean down work surfaces.

    The positions below may use additional BAU PPE beyond routine infection control when there is a suspected or confirmed case. 

    ​Front line role ​Business as usual PPE

    ​24/7 Residential Care Roles – Residential Care workers; Secure Care officers and disability services direct care staff/ secure care staff/ Nurses

    • ​Regularly wash hands with soap and water

    • Hand Sanitiser (70-90% alcohol content) can also be utilised where hand washing facilities are not available

    • Nitrile latex free gloves (non-powered where available) for cleaning and in the presence of bodily fluids

    • Disinfectant wipes

    • Wear a mask with at least three layers of cloth that covers both the nose and the mouth

    When providing support to a resident that requires close personal care and if necessary:

    • Aprons - when providing close contact personal care in the presence of bodily fluids

    • Safety glasses

    • Surgical masks used when providing close contact personal care in the presence of bodily fluids

    Child Protection roles including Statewide Referral and Response Service (Crisis Care) and Disability Justice Officers

    • ​Regularly wash hands with soap and water

    • Hand Sanitiser (70-90% alcohol content) can also be utilised where hand washing facilities are not available

    • Nitrile latex free gloves (non-powered where available) for cleaning and in the presence of bodily fluids

    • Wear a mask with at least three layers of cloth that covers both the nose and the mouth

    • Disinfectant wipes



    The Australian Government has developed an online training module for health care providers for all staff working in a residential setting - 

    Training should also be accessed via your local induction manuals where available.


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