NHS staff member being face fit tested

Construction work down, NHS work up!

It has been an interesting time for us here, as the lock down came into effect we saw our construction work slowly disappear through a mixture of postponements and cancellations. Thankfully, our phone soon began to ring with a new type of client. As it transpires, the NHS needs both face fit testing and the train the tester courses we also provide.

Travelling Nationwide

So far we have been to Newcastle, Carlisle & Norwich among many other far flung corners of the UK. We’re incredibly grateful to be of use during this most testing of times and we strongly believe we’re making a strong contribution to the protection of our key workers.

Masks are in short supply

With supply of personal protective equipment so fraught, we are having to use all our skills to try and get masks that really don’t want to pass a face fit test to do so. A recent job involved us both training dentists to do testing whilst actually testing several of them too, these particular dentists were only going to be doing emergency dental work on those POSITIVE for Coronavirus.

Modifications to masks becoming vital

Getting a pass on their disposable FFP3 mask became very important – they had over 400 of these masks and no other options. After 9 face fit tests had been done and with all 9 having failed the test, we knew we were in for quite a day.

Working together with those being trained to do testing, we began to experiment with the mask as to how we could try and get a better performance from it. The first thing we tried was to tighten the elastic bands with a simple ‘balloon knot’ to add tension to the mask and try and improve the seal.

Some manufacturers need to up their game!

Whilst this delayed the time taken for a fail to occur in the face fit test, it didn’t actually lead to any passes. Still, it was the beginning of an improvement. Next up, our attention was drawn to the foam cushioning under the metal nose-bridge. When inhaling sharply with the mask on, we noted our noses actually felt cold! This was a sure sign that we were experiencing evaporative cooling caused by air rushing in through the foam. Unbelievably, the foam comfort strip wasn’t actually airtight!

Thankfully the adhesive holding the foam strip in place was amenable to us peeling the foam off of the mask, in ordinary times such modifications would not be entertained but these are far from ordinary times.

Success at last

With the foam removed, the following 4 face fit tests we attempted all yielded a pass. A huge sigh of relief was given by all, these dentists were now in possession of a working mask capable of protecting them from the airborne aerosols that would inevitably be created during their important work.

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