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Preparing Effectively for Emerging Diseases

Discover how to be Pandemic-Proactive

According to the UK Government's National Risk Register, another pandemic is the most significant risk to the UK's safety, security and prosperity, and would be catastrophic according to latest analysis. With a 5 - 25% possibility of another pandemic striking over the next 5 years, and "spillover events" (when a pathogen infecting animals passes to humans) increasing in prevalence, effective preparation, by utilising expertise across all sectors, is critical.

We've all lived through COVID-19 and the UK has just experienced its largest-ever outbreak of avian flu. Each time we face a new challenge, the world is learning more about how to prepare in advance and react when it happens again. Are you ready to face any future pandemic head on?

Arco are a regular contributor to health and safety debates on regulation, product quality and standards, PPE procurement and emergency planning. Taking learnings from our extensive pandemic experience, we've contributed to the UK Government's COVID-19 inquiry, "Emerging Diseases and Learnings from COVID-19".

Prepare, Protect, Perform
  • Prepare
  • Protect
  • Perform

Helping Governments, public services and businesses be pandemic-proactive

Our whitepaper on Pandemic Preparedness and Business Continuity draws on learnings from previous pandemic responses and provides recommendations developed to help the Government. These can also be adopted by companies and services to create a robust plan for business continuity ahead of the next pandemic.

“Robust planning and effective communication with the relevant professional sectors can protect the safety of every human life.

We remain ready to play our part in helping to make our world a safer place.”

Arco CEO Guy Bruce

Arco CEO Guy Bruce

Our Six Key Areas

Based on extensive pandemic experience and expertise, Arco was pleased to share recommendations on six areas on issues specifically relating to pandemic PPE preparedness with the UK Government. Be pandemic proactive and take steps now to prepare and protect your people so your business or service can perform too.

Recommendations for pandemic preparedness and business continuity:

1. PPE and Pandemic Planning

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the overwhelming demand for Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and PPE, combined with the UK's inadequate pandemic stocks, left authorities and businesses searching for products that were already in short supply.

More contingency plans are needed with expert guidance from PPE suppliers, to ensure a robust selection of PPE, suitable for a range of scenarios, will be readily available for key workers should another pandemic occur.

In preparation for another pandemic, do you have...

  • An expert PPE supplier on-hand
  • Recognised PPE experts able to share best practice in a crisis
Health Care Sector Team

2. Resilient Respiratory Fit Testing Programme

Around 50% of Respiratory Protective Equipment used doesn't offer the level of protection assumed because it does not fit correctly. As COVID-19 took hold, there was insufficient capacity to ensure that those who needed fit testing for vital respiratory protection were properly protected.

To ensure the effectiveness of RPE, we're calling for national healthcare guidelines to advise on the training of testers, method and frequency of face fit testing for healthcare workers. Businesses need to think about their own programme of fit testing too and consider fit testing on more than one respirator to mitigate reliance on a single mask in case of sudden supply issues.

In preparation for another pandemic, do you have...

  • Employees that are face fit-tested on alternative respirators
  • A continuous programme of face fit testing
  • Face Fit Trainers who are Fit2Fit accredited
Resilient respiratory fit testing programme

3. PPE Guidance and Training

Without effective training in how to use PPE, including how it should be correctly donned, worn and removed, the wearer risks their level of protection or contaminating themselves after use.

Proper guidance and training are essential - and wearers need to know that personal physical changes may affect their PPE too.

In preparation for another pandemic, do you have...

  • Employees trained in how to use their PPE
  • Employees who know that personal physical changes may affect their PPE
  • Disposal and disinfection protocols in place to avoid contamination
PPE guidance and training

4. Compliant PPE Sourced from an Ethical Supply Chain

One of the most high-profile issues during the COVID-19 pandemic was the failure to acquire enough PPE for frontline workers and the quantity of PPE that was not fit for purpose and, therefore, unusable.

This must be avoided in the future and the Government and businesses need to act to ensure that only PPE which is legally compliant and sourced to high ethical and quality standards is purchased to ensure it is appropriate for effective use.

In preparation for another pandemic, do you have...

  • Quality PPE that meets product standards
  • PPE sourced from an ethical supply chain
  • Buyers that are trained in PPE procurement
Compliant PPE Sourced from an Ethical Supply Chain

5. Robust PPE Stockpile or Contingency Plans

Maintaining a PPE stockpile is one of the most important pieces of the preparedness strategy for governments globally. It must be stored correctly and suitably rotated to ensure all PPE is fit for use when needed.

For businesses and services, contingency plans including planned alternatives for health and safety equipment essentials will help mitigate supply chain risk.

In preparation for another pandemic, do you have...

  • Robust PPE stock and contingency plans
  • Planned alternatives for safety essentials
  • All RPE and PPE stored correctly
  • Adequate stock rotation in place
Robust PPE Stockpile or Contingency Plans

6. A Resilient Supply Chain Ensuring Continuity of Manufacture and Supply of PPE

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries halted exports of both final PPE products and the materials used to manufacture them, leading to the global scramble for PPE. To prevent similar supply chain vulnerabilities, the Government should develop the ability to source additional PPE at scale and at speed.

Businesses and services can improve their resilience by working with suppliers who have the expertise and scale to respond.

In preparation for another pandemic, do you have...

  • A supplier with the scale and expertise to respond
A Resilient Supply Chain Ensuring Continuity of Manufacture and Supply of PPE

Arco’s Experience in Health Emergencies

As the UK's leading health and safety experts, Arco has been at the forefront of responding to global health emergencies and crises such as Foot and Mouth Disease, swine and avian influenza, Ebola and most recently, COVID-19.

Foot and Mouth Disease
Foot and Mouth Disease

Arco worked closely with the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra), and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), then an executive agency and now part of the Animal and Plant Agency (APHA), to supply biosecurity protective clothing and other equipment to meet the urgent need to contain the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak. In addition to centralised responses, Arco regional teams worked with those affected, including livestock hauliers and farmers, in particular in Cumbria, East Anglia, Northumberland, Dumfries and Galloway.


Arco was the leading PPE partner in the UK's humanitarian response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2015. The circumstances were unprecedented from a global health perspective, with the complexities and complications of caring for those affected by the Ebola disease whilst protecting the frontline health and aid workers.

Swine and avian influenza
Swine and avian influenza

During the swine flu pandemic of 2009 and the multiple outbreaks of avian flu, Arco has supported and worked closely with APHA and other Defra bodies. Arco has continued to advise on selection of protective equipment, which meets the requisite product safety standards and delivered a Respiratory Management Programme including servicing, maintenance and face fit testing. At key moments, Arco has invested in additional inventories of key items to meet emergency demand and has supported healthcare providers, local authorities, farming communities and businesses, from engineering companies to energy companies.


Arco prioritised its existing public sector clients and key businesses, critical to the ongoing functioning of the country and society, such as healthcare institutions, food production businesses and utility services. In particular, Arco supplied essential PPE and face-fitting services, at a time when health services were struggling to ensure workers were adequately protected. In Scotland, Arco supplied 200 million surgical masks, seven million FFP3, 10 million visor masks, 200 million gloves and one million medical type coveralls during the pandemic and face fit tested over 50,000 frontline staff.