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The COVID-19 outbreak has proven to us how essential Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) supplies are and how we cannot function safely with poor performing equipment. Because one of the ways COVID-19 spreads is through the respiration of droplets that contain viral particles, respiratory protection is critical in keeping your staff and others safe and healthy.
The most important rule for keeping your staff up to date on best practices is to have ongoing or reoccurring training. The CDC tells us that “preparedness is crucial during outbreaks of disease… [and] training should be ongoing” (CDC, 2020). This means that staff is always up to date on the best industry practices and respiratory protection fits and is used correctly.
Medical professionals and other frontline workers are continuously at risk of exposure to COVID-19 while on the job. The proper fit and use of a respirator, like an N95, can help reduce the risk of transmission. While an ill-fitting respirator can mean an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission.
During times of an ongoing pandemic, however, there are sometimes shortages of PPE supplies. This includes respirators and fit testing supplies, of which, the world has seen an extreme increase in demand. Having these tools available to you is crucial to keeping staff safe.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “It is important for employers to understand that deviations from normal respirator use come with increased risk for workers… Shortages of both Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs) and fit-testing supplies have posed tremendous challenges” (OSHA, 2020). Additionally, “during times of extreme supply constraints… Employers should make every effort to ensure that workers who need to use tight-fitting respirators are fit tested to identify the right respirator for each worker” (CDC, 2020).
The best thing you can do to better train your staff to wear respirators correctly is to constantly provide the latest education on proper wear and use and follow updated guidelines when fit testing. The fastest and most accurate fit test instrument on the market will allow you to fit test your staff in a shorter amount of time and better match respirators to staff for maximum protection.
The PortaCount® Respirator Fit Tester models 8048 and 8038 are able to accurately fit test any respirator in under 2½ minutes using OSHA’s new Modified CNC Protocols.
To assist with the testing process and obtain a consistent test every time, video animations used by the Model 8048 guide staff through proper fit test exercise movements.
No other instrument can fit test all varieties of N95s of varying quality, which is critical for workers who may be using respirators they normally would not due to the scarcity of PPE.