WHO Releases Guidance on PPE While Handling Cargo

hand washing

Published Apr 8, 2020 11:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued recommendations for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) during cargo handling. The guidance document was announced in the 79th daily situation report and covers the rational use of PPE in healthcare and home care settings, as well as during the handling of cargo. The document assesses the current disruption in the global supply chain and outlines considerations for decision-making during severe shortages of PPE.

An experimental study conducted in a laboratory evaluated the survival of the COVID-19 virus on different surfaces and reported that the virus can remain viable up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, up to four hours on copper and up to 24 hours on cardboard. 

To date, there are no data to suggest that contact with goods or products shipped from countries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak have been the source of COVID-19 infection in humans, says the WHO.

The rationalized use and distribution of PPE when handling cargo from and to countries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak includes the following recommendations:

• Wearing a mask of any type is not recommended when handling cargo from an affected country.
• Gloves are not required unless they are used for protection against mechanical hazards, such as when manipulating rough surfaces.
• Hand hygiene should be practiced: perform hand hygiene frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub if available and if your hands are not visibly dirty or with soap and water if hands are dirty.
• Importantly, the use of gloves does not replace the need for appropriate hand hygiene, which should be performed frequently.
• When disinfecting supplies or pallets, no additional PPE is required beyond what is routinely recommended.

This article should not be used as specific guidance - refer to the WHO guidance here.