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May 3

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) shortages remain an ongoing concern

Posted on May 3 By: Victoria Decker

Survey Results

Thank you to those who participated in our survey to gather more information on PPE concerns on your farms. Based on this input we have ascertained the following:

Personal Protection Equipment

Farmers use a wide range of personal protective equipment (PPE) and products in their regular farming operations.  Of the current PPE that is in demand due to the COVID-19 crisis, most used by farmers in descending order includes:

  • N95 respirators
  • Disposable gloves
  • Face shields
  • Non-surgical masks
  • Other face coverings 

In addition to this use of Tyvek coveralls, dust masks and safety googles were listed as important. 

With respect to PPE products farmers use all hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, surface cleaners and disinfectants and industrial soaps and cleaners – the latter cleaners are used in regular operating processes with the sanitizer and sanitizer wipes being used for contact interactions to prevent from COVID-19.

PPE and products, specifically N95 masks, are used in the protection against chemical fumes and dust (from fertilizer, grains and fungicides, herbicides and pesticides) and hantavirus. These are required for Occupational Health and Safety compliance as well as personal protection. Gloves and face shields are used when handling chemicals. Face shields are used for fabrication applications (i.e. welding, and shop related activities (i.e. grinding cleaning equipment).

Availability issues

Farmers across the province have reported issues with availability of supply of this critical equipment. N95 masks are the biggest issue as well as nitrile disposable gloves and disinfectants. We are aware that many agricultural retailers do not have them in stock, and in most cases, they are not slated for delivery. Even simple masks that are required for working in dusty conditions are often unavailable.

Alberta Government 3 -Step Ordering Process for PPE for Agriculture and Agri-Food Industry

Below is the process for ordering PPE: *it has been flagged that currently PPE cannot be delivered to PO boxes. Ag and Forestry (AF) is aware of this concern and will provide an update when available, 

  1. Prior to placing an order, review the Government of Alberta PPE Guideline document to ensure that requests are eligible and/or appropriate:
    NOTE: If unsure consider engaging an OHS or Industrial Hygienist for an assessment.
  2. Submit orders online 
  3. In the comments, it is recommended to include information such as the number of staff that will use the order and any OHS/Industrial Hygienist assessments to support the order.
  4. The AEMA-POC Logistics Section currently contacts organizations for delivery and billing information closer to the shipment date; the POC Logistics Section indicated that orders are approximately 2-4 weeks on back-order.
    NOTE: An enhanced on-line ordering system is under development. Once completed it will allow organizations to track their order status.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Ag-Info Centre by phone at 310-FARM or by email at aginfocentre@gov.ab.ca. Thank you all for the hard work you are doing to keep your staff safe while ensuring Alberta’s food supply chain continues to operate effectively.

AAFC Information on the Licence to Import Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

Further to a question that was raised during our daily conference calls regarding the need for a license to import PPE, Health Canada indicated that there are no licensing requirements for businesses that purchase medical devices solely for use by their employees during work activities (e.g. first aid kits, disposable gloves) or for incidental emergency use, as long as it is clear that the business is the ultimate consumer AND is not in the business of offering healthcare services to employees or other individuals. It is recommended that you ensure the shipment is clearly indicated /labelled “for personal use” so it isn’t mistaken for commercial use. If you would like more information about your import, you can contact Health Canada’s Health Border Compliance Program at: hc.hpbcp-pcpsf.sc@canada.ca.

Please also note that some pieces of PPE may not qualify as a medical device, therefore they are not subject to the regulatory requirements relevant to the Food and Drugs Act. To obtain guidance on a particular piece of PPE, Health Canada has a dedicated inbox for any question related to Medical Device Establishment Licences: hc.mdel.questions.leim.sc@canada.ca

 

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