What is PPE & does my small business need it?

As a result of the ongoing pandemic, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has become a part of our everyday lives. Items that were once primarily used by healthcare workers must now be integrated into all types of businesses. As a small business owner, this is likely new territory for you.

What is PPE?

PPE is equipment worn to minimize exposure to a variety of hazards, including infectious diseases. Currently, most of us wear PPE to help prevent the potential transmission of COVID-19.

The most common types of PPE used to help reduce the risk of transmission include masks, gloves and face shields. However, the definition of PPE has now expanded, as the Canadian Government recommends that businesses adopt a “layered” approach using multiple measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. On top of wearing a mask, these measures include:

  • Installing physical barriers between employees and clients, such as plexiglass windows, wherever social distancing is difficult.
  • Providing hand sanitizer and ensuring it is available to both workers and customers.
  • Increasing the frequency of surface and equipment cleaning, using Health Canada approved hard-surface disinfectants.
  • Facilitating social distancing by restructuring your business’ layout and posting signs reminding employees and customers to practice personal preventative measures.

Why do I need it?

  1. It minimizes the risk of infection. Health experts say the evidence is clear that wearing PPE can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  2. You are legally required to. Government regulations are now in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In many provinces, businesses are required to provide PPE in the workplace. Check your jurisdiction’s CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety) Fact Sheet to see what your responsibilities regarding PPE are as a business owner.
  3. It may help your staff feel more comfortable coming to work. As can be expected, your employees may be experiencing a high level of stress about their health and safety in the workplace right now. Providing them with the proper equipment to operate safely is a great way to support their psychological health and safety and allows them to perform their best! 
  4. It will help your customers feel more comfortable coming to your business. Since the onset of the pandemic, customer safety has become one of the most important aspects of the consumer experience. A recent consumer survey revealed that 80% of people ranked in-store PPE as the top factor affecting their feelings of safety while shopping.

Overall, investing in the proper protective equipment for your business is crucial. Not only does PPE directly impact the health and well-being of your staff and customers, but it’s impact on consumers’ willingness to frequent your business could even affect your sales.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create challenges on many fronts for Canadian businesses, the added costs associated with PPE may put a strain on your SMB. A PPE loan could help you get the capital you need to ensure you are equipped to operate safely and efficiently in this new reality.