Staff at a hospital in Nottingham received a series of special Fit Tester training sessions this summer, in a drive to build confidence in respiratory protection.

Brian Lavell, Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) expert for Full Support Healthcare, ran six Fit Tester training sessions to dozens of staff from two of the largest NHS hospitals in the area. These specialist training sessions were specially designed to enable staff to be confident and competent in the use of RPE as well as equip key educators to cascade Fit Testing across their departments.

Fit Testing involves a person undertake a series of exercises while wearing a tight-fitting respirator mask to ensure it properly fits and has no leak points along the seal.

“Before receiving the Fit Tester training I was sceptical that our masks actually work,” Angela said. “When working with patients who have airborne viruses, such as TB, you can’t see the bacteria in the air and we put a lot of trust in disposable masks to protect us from harm.

“However, through doing a Fit Test and seeing how effective our masks really are when they fit properly, I’ve become much more confident.”

To ensure RPE is suitable for the individual, health and safety regulations state that Fit Testing is a legal requirement for all tight-fitting RPE.

One of the trainees, Charlie, failed his first Fit Test. “I’ve not needed to wear a respirator in the ward yet, so am very thankful to have failed in a classroom setting,” Charlie said.

There is no guaranteed one-size-fits-all respirator. As people come in different shapes and sizes, not all RPE is suitable for every person.

Charlie continued: “After waiting for the solution taste to go, I was retested on another shape of Easimask – which fit!

“Failing the first time actually made me more confident that the second mask works for me.”

However, not everyone will pass on a second mask, and some people cannot be Fit Tested at all.

“For those who have beards or cannot find a tight-fitting respirator that fits, there is another option,” Mr Lavell added. “Full Support Healthcare now stock a series of loose fitting RPE kits that don’t rely on tight-fitting seals. Instead, these units work through a constant flow of air being pushed into the hood, ensuring no contaminated air can get in.

“These kits are perfect for staff with beards, those who haven’t yet been Fit Tested or those that can’t achieve an adequate fit.”

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