Union Win for Public Health Nurses! Fit testing now required in high risk areas
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association has been fighting make sure fit testing is undertaken for all health workers who wear P2/N95 masks.
We now have official acknowledgement from the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) that fit testing should be required in all NSW Local Health Districts for nurses working in high risk areas or performing certain procedures on patients with COVID-19. This is a win for members and a great achievement for those who have been active in the campaign to ensure safety at work.
New advice states:
In NSW, LHDs/SHNs are required to implement respirator fit testing in their facilities for health workers (HWs) performing respiratory Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs) on patients with COVID-19 or providing clinical services to patients on airborne precautions in high risk areas.
This is a huge acknowledgement of the importance of fit testing in protecting health care workers by reducing the risk of potential exposure to any pathogens.
It’s not temporary
There’s now an ongoing requirement for your employer to implement a fit testing program if you are using these masks for any airborne spread infection:
Fit testing of P2/N95 respirators must be provided for HWs responsible for routinely and regularly attending to patients in isolation for airborne spread infections, for example caring for patients with pulmonary or laryngeal Tuberculosis or those who are performing respiratory AGPs.
In addition, adequate training must be provided and a fit testing program implemented:
Health workers required to wear a respirator must be trained and assessed for competency in the use of all PPE as part of an ongoing training program.
The need for a fit testing program extends beyond COVID-19 and therefore an LHD/SHN fit testing program requires careful and planned implementation.
If your management has not already implemented fit testing in line with these new requirements, it’s important for you to let us know and we can make it happen together. Contact the NSWNMA here.
The new recommendations Respiratory Protection in Healthcare are available to view in full here.
Unsure about the difference between fit checking and fit testing?
Watch our Webinar here.
Report PPE concerns
If you have concerns that your employer is not providing you with the necessary PPE (or is making it very difficult to access) and/or is not training people in its safe use, then you should:
- Put in an incident report at your workplace
- Escalate your concerns to your manager in writing and ask for an urgent response
If your concerns are not being taken seriously, we can assist to ensure appropriate measures are in place. Contact us here. You can also contact SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association is providing support and advice to any members seeking information regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Join the NSWNMA to ensure you’re covered at work.