1974 Rapport Newsletter: A Look Forward into 2021
2020 Review and a look forward into 2021...
2020 – Covid was something of a hot topic!
Well, that was quite a year wasn’t it! On the 23rd March 2020 I posted a statement on the 1974 Rapport website declaring that we’ll be scaling things back in line with government advice as we entered Lockdown #1; we would only be helping NHS, care, key workers etc.. with face fit testing, no Asbestos training and we expected a quiet and financially crippling 2020, furloughed like many others.
Little did I know just how ill prepared these sectors were in respect to RPE and how poor the standards & knowledge of RPE was. We worked tirelessly to educate and protect with regards to face fit testing across many NHS trusts, The London Excel Nightingale, Care Homes and more dentists than I knew were in existence. A hard but proud few months!
2020 also saw us produce an impromptu video, advising how RPE should be correctly worn after seeing countless medical professionals & health care workers wearing them incorrectly. It has now been viewed over 10,000 times across a number of platforms so we like to think we made a little difference here too. This can still be viewed at www.1974rapport.co.uk.
1974 Rapport celebrated a Birthday…
The 28th November saw 1974 Rapport reach something of a milestone, it celebrated its 4th Birthday in November 2020, a proud moment and one that couldn’t have been achieved without our clients, training providers, suppliers, interactors and service providers… i.e. you guys! A huge heartfelt thank you for making this possible and we look forward to celebrating our 5th birthday in slightly easier times!
IATP Asbestos training…
Having delivered Asbestos Training (Awareness & Non-Licensed) for a number of years to a high standard, we thought it time to get our courses externally approved. In August we were audited in both disciplines by the IATP scheme and are pleased to announce that we passed with flying colours!
Qualitative Face Fit Testing (QLFT) fit2fit Re-Assessment.
We have been fit2fit approved in the qualitative face fit test method for a number of years and we were due our third assessment which comes round in 3 year cycles. Again, we are please to announce that we passed with flying colours, we are proud to continue be listed on the fit2fit website with a host of other competent face fit testers (www.fit2fit.org)
Quantitative face Fit Testing (QNFT) assessment & TSI Portacount.
After much deliberation, we decided to make a substantial financial investment in the very latest TSI Portacount 8048 Ambient Particle Counting equipment, this allows us to perform face fit tests on any close fitting Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), full or half face.
The natural progression was to become fit2fit approved in this method also; following an external assessment, we are again proud to announce that we stood up to scrutiny and have put this equipment into very good use across many sectors including a number of NHS trusts. A VERY impressive and accurate bit of kit!
Office move… exciting times!
As part of our continued growth and a desire to future proof 1974 Rapport, we’ve taken the bold step of securing office premises local to Staffordshire / Cheshire that can be used as something of a “drop in” face fit testing centre and also a training venue. Early days yet but its rather gorgeous and soon to be full with RPE and test equipment; more on this to follow!
Qualitative Face Fit Testing (QLFT) “Train the Tester” courses.
We still remain one of only 14 providers in the UK who are able to offer “train the tester” courses that have been approved by the fit2fit scheme. As 2020 saw a huge reliance on RPE, coupled with inconsistent supply of said devices, the demand for this type of training was extremely high. We estimate to have trained over 500 professionals how to undertake a thorough & robust face fit test in line with current HSE guidance. This full day course is also a detailed look at RPE… As a direct result of these courses, the number of workers who now receive face fit testing and internal training on the correct use of RPE is almost immeasurable. We were also able to warn and advise our clients on correct RPE selection as the UK was flooded with substandard RPE. Another achievement of which we are very proud.
HSE & Fit2Fit pandemic guidance.
The BSIF fit2fit scheme has worked tirelessly along with the HSE to ensure that the standard of RPE & fit testing remains high, that correct protection is offered and that fit testing can be conducted safely during these testing times. Significant developments / announcements and opinions of the fit testing community have included…
- KN95 masks should not be used as RPE.
- The use of a Thatta on bearded RPE wearers should not occur in conjunction with close fitting RPE. Zero facial hair is the ONLY level of facial fair where the mask contacts the face!
- RPE should not be modified (e.g. tying knots in the straps, strapping on the bridge of the nose, “decorations“, crossing straps…).
- Ear loops have no place on close fitting RPE.
- FRSMs should not be worn over (or under!) RPE.
- HSE guidance on face fit testing during a pandemic was released – including the disposal of fit test solutions and sanitisation of nebulisers between testing individuals (this guidance is under constant review so please keep an eye on the HSE website).
- Fit2fit does not endorse or approve of online / remote face fit testing training.
RPE & Face Fit Test Kit supplies.
2020 saw a worrying shortage of good quality RPE and also face fit test equipment. We have worked tirelessly to continue the great relationship that we have with a number of suppliers and manufacturers to ensure that we have good levels of FFP3 Masks, a range of P3 respirators in various sizes, replacement filters, face fit test kits and replacement solutions in both the bitter or sweet variety.
When to fit test and when to re-test...
Face fit testing is part of the initial RPE selection process and therefore MUST be undertaken prior to RPE being implemented. Fi2fit guidance suggests that another test should be undertaken if the RPE was to change i.e. another make, model, size or specification of mask is introduced, a face fit test is specific to the exact device in use. The other variable is the face, significant changes in facial features would also trigger a re-test, examples would include the ageing process, significant weight loss or gain (a 10% fluctuation), facial trauma, disfigurement, cosmetic surgery, significant dental work... The fit2fit scheme suggests that best practice would be no longer than 2 year intervals however certain sectors or certain employers would prefer shorter intervals of say 12 months.
What does 2021 bring?
For me, the only “out” of the Covid-19 pandemic is a vaccine or an effective “cure”. Until then we must all do our uppermost in the fight to stem the spread, to protect the NHS and help to minimise unnecessary suffering and death.
As we enter lockdown #3, we continue to offer on site testing and class based training and have robust measures in place to minimise potential covid transmission risk; we firmly believe that the benefits of face fit testing / training clearly outweigh any residual risk.
Here at 1974 Rapport we’ll continue to do what we do best, protecting and educating; hopefully getting back into industry and construction related sectors as RPE supplies normalise and Covid pressures hopefully subside. We can again focus on Work Related Respiratory disease instead of just infection prevention.
On that happier note, I’d like to thank you all for your continued support; May 2021 be prosperous, happy and healthy for you all, we look forward to seeing what it will bring... better than 2020 would be a good starting point!
Take care & stay safe.