Fit Testing In The COVID 19 Pandemic Era
The Corona Virus outbreak has forced organizations to change the way they view fit testing. In hospitals, in labs, and even in industrial workplaces the safety requirements have changed overnight.
There has been a change, in both the type of safety equipment workers use and in the sheer number needing to be fit for masks.
The most common type of mask in medical environments today is the N95. To make sure the N95 mask will provide the right protection, the worker should undergo a qualitative fit test with a precision instrument such as the TSI Portacount
With the testing of such a high number of masks, time becomes a major factor. It becomes more difficult to test everyone within a reasonable amount of time.
Under normal circumstances, these tests do not need an unreasonable amount of time to perform. When there are large volumes to test, even a minute extra adds up to hours in no time.
How long does Qualitative Fit Testing take?
According to TSI’s estimates it takes roughly 23 minutes to carry out a single qualitative test. This includes the time needed for preparation. A “threshold screening test”, a test to show that the real test will be valid, also needs to be done. If this test fails a different test is done and the screening test carried out again.
You can carry out a quantitative test much faster utilizing a Portacount. In the time that it would take to fit one person using a qualitative means three people can undergo testing with a quantitative measure.
When using a qualitative test if the number of fit tests is in the hundreds it can take weeks to complete testing. During this time staff will not be able to do their usual duties safely when utilizing traditional qualitative tests.
In the health system this is a game changer, but even industrial workplaces can make use of this. There isn’t much in the way of time savings when one or two employees need to be fit tested. When work requirements change, or a jobsite brings new challenges requiring a lot of new fit testing it becomes ideal to use a device such as the Portacount to test.
The quicker turnaround time on fit testing also means that any unexpected fit tests that are necessary are easier to accommodate. Instead of each test being a major event in everyone's schedule, staff can sneak into the schedule when available.
This makes using a quantitative testing medium, such as the Portacount, cheaper than the more traditional methods of measurement.