The Portacount Respirator Fit Tester is a device that will allow healthcare workers identify whether their personal protective equipment (PPE) fits properly, explained MEC for health in the province Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi.
The device works with respiratory equipment such as gas masks, respirators, disposable masks such as N95, P1 and P2 disposable respirators. A new device can help health care workers better protect themselves against TB. At high risk, frontline workers say more must be done to protect them against contracting TB at work.
The Gauteng Department of Health this week unveiled new technology that will help protect and prevent the spread of tuberculosis (TB) amongst healthcare workers.
Authorities identified ill-fitting PPE as one of the contributing factors that putting healthcare workers at risk of exposure to TB and COVID-19, according to Mokgethi.
At an event marking World TB Day on 24 March, Mokgethi announced that the device will be distributed to health facilities around the province. Held at the Carletonville Civic Centre, the event also saw healthcare workers screened for TB, COVID-19, HIV and diabetes.
A safe environment for healthcare workers
Professor Muzimkhulu Zungu from the National Institute for Occupational Health lauded the department for introducing the fit tester device. Zungu highlighted the importance of providing employees with a safe environment and proper safety equipment.
“Generally there are two sizes, there is the regular and small,” Zungu said of face masks. “With the Fit Test, it will help you to know which one you should wear. There’s a number of things that tell us from this machine and we are launching this because we want to discourage people from just going into the workplace, taking a respirator, putting it on their face but not knowing if it is going to protect them.”
Zungu urged the Gauteng Department of Health as an employer to ensure that healthcare workers’ safety, as is the law. A 2014 audit by the Department of Employment and Labour found that Gauteng had a compliance rate of between 9% and 30% in protecting workers from infectious diseases, he said.
“Our health [workers] deserve access to workers’ rights because it is our human right,” Zungu added.