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Respirator fit testing and infection prevention for hospital staff and healthcare workers

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. In this blogpost, we look at UK healthcare workers and fit testing FFP3 masks as part of infection prevention best practices.


FFP3 masks must fit to the user’s face to be effectiveThe new coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 was undetected before the Wuhan, China outbreak was reported in December 2019. It had already spread to 94 countries within the first 10 weeks. Since then, the virus has led to over 106,000 confirmed cases and around 3,600 deaths by the beginning of March 2020.

According to the WHO and industry experts, control measures and infection prevention are critical to reduce the risk of COVID-19 virus spreading from infected patients to visitors or healthcare workers. In the COVID-19 outbreak, data is still emerging, but reports indicate significant numbers of healthcare workers are being infected. Hospital-associated transmission is suspected as the presumed mechanism of infection for affected health professionals.  

FFP3 masks must fit to the user’s face to be effective

Providing the highest quality FFP3 respirators to healthcare workers and enforcing their use is only the first step. The efficiency of a respirator's filter material alone does not reduce dangers posed by airborne hazards.

Read HSE's research on FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3 masks on the UK market

The other necessary step is to reduce exposure by ensuring that respirators fit. If a respirator does not seal properly to a person’s face, the airborne hazards can leak underneath the face piece seal and into healthcare worker's breathing zone. Respiratory protective equipment must form a seal to the user’s face to provide protection. Small leaks allow harmful materials into the mask that the user will breathe. The only way to know if respiratory protective equipment fits correctly is to perform a fit test. Fit testing is an activity that evaluates how well the respirator face piece seals to the user’s face.

Learn more how the PortaCount Respirator Fit Tester helped the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust to set up an efficient fit test programme.

LINK: https://www.tsi.com/resources/comparison-between-qualitative-and-quantitative-respirator-fit-testing/

Please contact TSI if you need more information or if you are interested in purchasing a PortaCount Respirator Fit Tester.

Posted on Mar 11 2020 12:59
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