Kerrie Burton is a MSc Candidate at the University of Wollongong and gave a (standing room only) concurrent presentation at the AIOH conference last year on the progress of her research so far. Kerrie is currently in Prague attending the ISRP Conference and has been kind enough to write about her experience. So please welcome our newest guest blogger #Burton !!
In July of 2013 I was given the fantastic opportunity to study a Masters of Science by Research at the University of Wollongong, under a scholarship provided by the S.E.A. Group. It was a chance for me to “go back to school” and I was excited to have the opportunity to develop my research skills and knowledge, focussed on the topic of Respirator Filter Efficiency Against Diesel Particulate Matter.
At the initial meeting with my supervisors, I was informed that there was an expectation to present my findings at the International Society for Respiratory Protection Conference in Prague – yes that’s right Prague, Czech Republic!
Fast forward to September 2014 and Prague here I come – nervous about giving my presentation in front of International respiratory protection experts but also excited for the same reasons.
The 17th annual ISRP conference was held at the Hilton Old Town in Prague and brought together approximately 140 participants from 14 countries. The conference kicked off with a welcome drinks on the Sunday evening. The opening plenary was given by Dr Maryann D’Allessandro, Director of the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory who outlined the United States Respiratory Protection priorities of pandemic preparedness, conformity assessment and integration of ISO Standards. Another theme that continued throughout the conference included issues surrounding health care workers and the implementation of the ISO standards.
Dr Yoshimi Matsumara from the Technology Institution of Industrial Safety gave an interesting presentation on the issues from a respiratory perspective in natural disasters in Japan such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, including the 2011 earthquake and tsunami which induced the melt down of the Fukushima Atomic Power plants. These disasters required consideration of how to manage potential exposures to asbestos and radioactive contaminants. Another issue she touched on was the provision of respiratory protection to workers exposed to indium compounds, such as those used in the manufacture of semiconductors in flat panel televisions and mobile phones, with a sufficient protection factor to protect workers to the very low exposure standard in Japan. She also invited us to the next ISRP conference in Yokohama Japan, November 7-11 2016,
Australia was represented by myself and Graham Powe, Managing Director the S.E.A. Group (I should also mention Shaun, a New Zealander who is working on developing filter material made from wool). Graham presented on the development of a device which can be attached to the exhalation valve of a respirator to allow measurement of work rate. This will be useful in gathering data to enable appropriate selection of respiratory protection under the revised ISO standards. He described some of the data collected so far to validate the device.
Graham Powe, Kerrie Burton and Goran Berndtsson – honorary Australian.
Wednesday morning was focussed on the development of ISO RPE standards that the ISRP has been leading. The aim is to standardise it on an international level and close the gaps in some of the current standards, many of which are dated. Protection of the wearer is the focus so it is a Human Factors Driven standardisation, moving from the current product focussed standards to performance focussed standards, based on selection, performance and classification. 30 documents are in preparation, with 15 published thus far, with a target for completion of 2016/2017. The benefit will be that RPD (respiratory protective devices) are capable to protect the wearer at the metabolic rate the wearer demands for the application / task. This will also encourage manufacturers to develop improved and innovative products.
The update was followed by a Discussion Panel on the ISO standards and it reminded me of some of the AIOH forums where some very passionate members get the opportunity to express their concerns and opinions – always informative and an eye opener! Graham Powe advised the group that the AS/NZS1716 committee will be reactivated with a focus on adopting the ISO technical standards that have already been published. The committee will meet in October to begin this deliberation.
Simon Smith, ISRP Education officer, discussed the one day training course developed covering the why and the how of using respiratory protection. This program was piloted in Cambodia at the Ministry of Health in 2010, using a train the trainer approach with 32 participants. Subsequently 3000 healthcare workers have been trained in all provinces in Cambodia and respiratory protection is part of the government mandated PPE for infection prevention and control – what a great achievement! ISRP have also formed links with Workplace Health without borders.
Mike Clayton (HSL Labs and incoming ISRP president) outlined a web based respirator selection tool that the HSE have developed.
The social aspects of the conference were well covered with beer tasting organised in a gorgeous art deco building. The awards dinner involved taking a tram through the beautiful city of Prague, with an accordion player providing background music for the journey. The dinner was held in the Grand Monastery Restaurant, usual monastic practices of a glass or two were observed, however silence certainly wasn’t.
On Thursday morning Nikki McCullough from 3M spoke about the Ebola virus and the challenge faced in terms of balancing the personal protective equipment required under a precautionary approach and the pros and cons of that such as the increased heat stress risk, supply and decontamination management issues.
A great conference and of course so much more than I’ve been able to cover here, I’m extremely grateful to the University of Wollongong and my supervisors – Mrs Jane Whitelaw and Professor Alison Jones, the S.E.A. Group and Dr Brian Davies for his helpful guidance. Presentations can be found at http://prague.isrp.com/. Oh and what about my paper, I hear you all ask. Well come along to AIOH2014 in Melbourne, Nov 29 – Dec 3, and I’ll tell you all about it (www.aioh.org.au/events).