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Fit-testing and ventilation controls raised in HSA inspections

Lack of fit-testing and concerns about adequacy of ventilation systems were raised in inspections of HSE healthcare facilities by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), show documents released to the Medical Independent under Freedom of Information law.

The names of healthcare facilities in the HSA correspondence to HSE CEO Mr Paul Reid were redacted by the Executive. Following an inspection on 30 June 2020, an inspector wrote to Mr Reid drawing attention to several findings, including “vague” references to personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE) in the Covid-19 risk assessment. In addition, engineering controls had not been identified in the risk assessment.

The inspector had reviewed ‘critical ventilation verification reports’ previously compiled for this workplace, a number of which stated the air handling system was fit for purpose subject to action items being addressed. However, the inspector found no evidence the items had been remedied, “in particular any of the items that would result in a reduced level of protection for persons at this place of work.” Furthermore, there were staff who had not received a face fit test for FFP2/3 masks, which the
facility was instructed to address urgently.

Following an inspection on 9 September 2020, a healthcare facility was asked to confirm the plan in place to address issues “identified in the provided AHU [air handling unit] reports”. It was also asked to document its RPE programme.

An inspector’s findings following an inspection on 15 September 2020 included that ambulance personnel requiring RPE “should be identified and face fit-testing and fit check training must be attended to as a matter of urgency”.

Following an inspection on 23 September 2020, a facility was asked to confirm staff were aware of the correct operating parameters and checks for all positive pressure ventilated lobby and negative pressure rooms. “Particular care must be taken where rooms can function as either positive or negative pressure rooms.

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