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N95 respirator supply and mask mandate changes

N95 respirator supply and mask mandate changes

Are you wearing the BSN Medical Proshield N95 respirator (also known as the Duckbill mask) or the Halyard FLUIDSHEILD 3 N95 Particulate filter respirator and surgical masks?

If so, and you haven’t been fit tested again recently, you may need to do so.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer put out a recent update concerning changes to the supply of these two popular respirators, which has resulted in the need for staff who have been fit tested to these masks to undergo fit testing again.

The BSN Medical Proshield N95 (‘Duckbill’) respirator has a Product Defect Alert, meaning that it may inadequately prevent the spread of blood or fluid-borne infectious agents in a setting where level 2 or 3 fluid resistance barrier is required. It’s important to note that these masks have not been recalled and can be used, but mitigation – such as a face shield – may be required.

In addition, the Halyard FLUIDSHEILD 3 N95 Particulate filter respirator and surgical masks have had conditions imposed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) so they have suspended sales in Australia. Again, there is no recall as such and existing supplies can be used.

However, ANMF (Vic Branch) recommends that staff fit tested to these masks are prioritised for fit testing to other respirators as soon as possible. New respirators will be added to the state supply chain to replace these ones and it is not anticipated that there will be any shortage.

Services removing mask mandates

The Branch is aware that as of late March 2023, some health services are beginning to ease their PPE requirements around the wearing of masks.

Healthscope has removed mask mandates in all hospital areas, except where COVID+ patients are present, effectively returning its services back to pre-pandemic PPE protocols. The Branch understands several other services are set to do the same.

Current Department of Health recommendations for routine patient care that does not have identified COVID risk do allow for the health service to determine their PPE policy locally, while maintaining that where COVID risk has been identified a respirator and eye protection remains recommended.

In light of these developments, ANMF (Vic Branch) is calling on employers to remember that before changing their PPE requirements, they should consult with Health and Safety Reps and employees and undertake a risk assessment.

All employees should also still have access to P2/N95 masks for any instances when they are providing care for COVID/SCOVID patients, or if it is the employee’s personal preference to wear a mask.

As we continue to navigate the transition to living with endemic COVID, in collaboration with other health unions ANMF has developed some general guidelines, including for PPE. HSRs and Job Reps are encouraged to download this chart and put it up your workplaces. You can also find it on the Branch COVID-19 information page.

Members are encouraged to contact ANMF (Vic Branch) Member Assistance with any further queries or concerns.