The World Health Organization, (WHO), raised the Swine Origin Influenza Virus (SOIV, H1N1) outbreak to a level 5. Level five is characterised by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region indicating that a pandemic may be next. Countries are preparing for the potential socioeconomic impacts of a SOIV, H1N1 Influenza pandemic.
As a recognised supplier of quantitative respirator fit testing, isolation room pressure controls and filter testing equipment, Kenelec Scientific are playing an important role in supporting healthcare organisations in Australia and New Zealand. Kenelec Scientific are making every responsible effort to keep customers aware of current best practices that are being adopted or recommended by authorities such as government, regulatory and industry organisations.
Respiratory Protection: All healthcare personnel who enter the rooms of patients in isolation for swine influenza should wear a fit-tested disposable N95 respirator or equivalent (powered air purifying respirator). Respiratory protection for hospital staff is one of the most critical issues. Surgical masks were at one time considered sufficient, but new evidence2 from CDC/NIOSH clearly shows that they do almost nothing to protect the individual wearer.
N95 respirators have emerged as the preferred and required method of respiratory protection for most hospital staff. When respirators are required, respirator training and fit testing is also required as part of an overall written respiratory protection program3. The European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have issued a similar recommendation.
There are several methods of respirator fit-testing: quantitative and qualitative. The most accurate method is quantitative fit-testing. The TSI PortaCount Pro+ respirator fit tester is the only quantitative fit tester, capable of fit testing all respirators, including N95’s. TSI PortaCount Pro+ respirator fit tester performs fit test measurements under conditions approximating actual use and is compliant with all respiratory protection standards, regulations and guidelines including:
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134
- OSHA/CDC/WHO Pandemic/terrorism preparedness guidelines
- Joint commission (LD.1.30)
- CDC Tuberculosis guidelines
- ANSI Z88.10
- CSA Z94.4 (Canada)
- EN529:2005 (Europe)
- HSE 282/28 (United Kingdom)
- BGR 190 (Germany)
- AS/NZS 1715 (Australia/New Zealand)
A respiratory protection programme that includes quantitative fit-testing is the key to giving healthcare staff a higher level of confidence in their respirators making them likely to report to work in a pandemic.