Respirator Fit Testing

If anyone in your team wears Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) then as the PCBU you must provide information, training or instruction on how to correctly use, wear, store and maintain the RPE.

Fit testing is required by AS/NZS 1715 before a respirator is worn in the workplace to ensure that workers are wearing properly fitting RPE, with an effective seal to the face. A fit test should be conducted at issue of RPE and then at least annually and/or;

>> Whenever a different size, style, model or make of respirator is used.

>> When any facial changes occur that could affect fit, such as significant weight changes or significant dental work.

It is also a good idea to complete fit testing alongside annual health monitoring where our Occupational Health Nurses discuss respiratory history and exposure history as well as completing spirometry (lung function testing).

TriEx carry out Qualitative Fit Testing for half face respirators, used in environments where the hazard is less than 10 times the WES (workplace exposure standard).

A sensitivity test is completed without RPE under a hood. The RPE is then worn and either a bitter or sweet solution is introduced into the hood whilst the worker carries out a variety of activities for one minute each including:

>> Normal breathing

>> Deep breathing

>> Moving head side to side

>> Moving head up and down

>> Bending over (or jogging in place)

>> Talking

>> Normal breathing again

Education is given regarding care and maintenance of respiratory equipment and how to fit check RPE.

To learn more about this service contact our health team on 0800 487 439 or email enquiries@triex.co.nz.

Flu Already at Record Highs

The Flu season is peaking early this year, and already Australia has been hit harder by Flu this year than ever before. They have seen record numbers of cases in April, with 56,500 cases — 6 times the previous record high. Already 122 Australians have died, with the youngest being a 3 year old child.

The risks of flu are high. Flu is highly contagious and can have you off work for a week. Complications of the flu can include illnesses like pneumonia, sinus infection, or worsening of other illnesses like asthma or heart failure. Worsening of flu complications can lead to death.

The Influenza virus kills also more people in New Zealand than those kills on the roads, with estimates being 500 people die each year from flu. The elderly, those who are pregnant, those with chronic illness and babies and children are the most at risk.

Flu is already circulating in New Zealand however this Australian outbreak can easily spread to New Zealand considering the amount of travel between our countries — we cannot be complacent. The Immunisation Advisory Centre director Dr Nikki Turner has said “There’s only a bit of water between us and Australia, someone just needs to carry a respiratory
illness on a plane and it will spread around NZ.”

You need to have a flu vaccination every year and the protection from the flu vaccination will last for at least the flu season, and up to one year. Each year the flu virus is different so just because you had the vaccine last year doesn’t make you immune — they keep changing. The vaccines are made each year based on the most common flu circulating.

The great news is that the flu strains in this years vaccine are well matched to these outbreaks that are happening here and in Australia. With the worst of winter flu still to come it is very important that you vaccinate if you have not already.

TriEx nurses can still come to your workplace to vaccinate your team, or we have the option of vouchers for small teams or for teams spread out through the country (or a combination of both).

For more information or to book read more here.

Risks of Organic Solvents

WorkSafe NZ has put out a Safety Alert highlighting the serious health and safety risks of using organic solvents in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation and lack of personal protective equipment.

Organic solvents (eg toluene, thinners and MEK) are used to dissolve or disperse other substances.

Organic solvents are used in many construction and manufacturing workplaces. You can find solvents in a wide range of products including: adhesives, degreasing agents, fillers, cleaning products, lacquers, metal cleaners, ink, paint, resins, rust removers, surface preparation products, dry-cleaning products, fuels.

Organic solvents can be found in:

– adhesives (cyclohexane, acetone, toluene)
– paints and lacquers (toluene, xylene, methyl ethyl ketone)
– degreasers (trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene)
– printing (turpentine, white spirits, xylene).

They can enter the body, mainly through inhalation of vapour and through direct skin contact, and into the bloodstream where they can cause adverse health effects.

Short term effects can include headaches, nausea, eyes, nose, throat and skin irritation, disorientation, feeling drunk/high, drowsiness

Long term effects can include mood changes, memory problems, concentration difficulties, tiredness, weakness.

Organic solvents readily evaporate in the air at normal temperatures. Therefore, high levels of solvent vapours can build up quickly in enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation and when room temperatures rise (eg small rooms or a shed on a hot day). If solvents are also absorbed through the skin as well as inhaled, the total exposure may be much higher.

WorkSafe has guidance on protecting workers from the harmful effects of organic solvents — the Quick Guide is available for download here. To read the full Safety Alert over on WorkSafe website

May 17 – Pink Shirt Day

This coming Friday (May 17) is Pink Shirt Day.

Pink Shirt Day is led by the Mental Health Foundation and is about working together to stop bullying. It is about celebrating diversity and promoting positive social relationships. 

Everybody should feel safe, valued and respected no matter their age, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability or culture.

Make sure your workplace gets involved on Friday. TriEx and Gallagher Bassett will be dressing in pink and are celebrating with a shared lunch this Friday. The Pink Shirt Day website has resources, and content you can use at your workplace — just visit their website here

Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!

May Newsletter

Our May Newsletter came out yesterday. May is a month full of important health awareness dates in New Zealand and globally so we have plenty of info relating to what is going on. We have articles focused on lung health, with information on Silica Dust, the risks of Organic Solvents and Respirator Fit Testing for your employees.

Is your workplace getting behind Pink Shirt Day this Friday, May 17? We will be throwing on our pink shirts and will be holding shared lunches in our Auckland and Christchurch offices.

Read all the articles in the May newsletter here.

Silica Dust

What is Silica & Silica Dust?

Silica is everywhere. It’s part of bricks, concrete and mortar. It’s in tiles and the slates on our roofs. It’s found naturally in stone and rocks. Even some fillers and plastic composite products use silica. Left alone, silica is safe. But if you work on materials that are made up of silica, you’ll be releasing dangerous silica dust. Activities such as concrete drilling, cutting, grinding, fettling, mixing, handling, dry shoveling and tunneling can all result in exposure.

The industries with the highest risk of exposure include construction, quarrying, mining, concrete manufacturing, brick & tile manufacturing, foundries, abrasive blasting, roading and monumental masonry work.

Silica dust is the very fine dust that’s created when you cut, drill, grind, chip or sand materials and products like stone, bricks, concrete, tiles or mortar.

Why is Silica Dust Dangerous?

Silica dust can be harmful if you breathe it in. Silica dust particles are much smaller than normal dust (sometimes invisible to the naked eye) – and they can get deep into your lungs and stay there, permanently damaging the lung tissue and eventually leading to serious lung diseases in some people. Silica dust can cause silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease.

Eliminate the Exposure

Consider changing the product or process, for example use alternative products (eg metallic shot, slag products or grit for abrasive blasting, instead of sand).

Getting materials cut to size off-site in a facility where dust exposure can be controlled more easily.

Minimise the Exposure

Read more →

Asthma Awareness Day

Tuesday May 7 is World Asthma Day. World Asthma Day is held annually on the first Tuesday in May and is designed to improve asthma awareness and care globally.

Asthma is a chronic condition of the bronchioles — the small airways inside the lungs. The airways in a person with asthma are oversensitive and are easily irritated. The irritation causes the inside of the airway to become red and inflamed and the muscles surrounding the airway walls tighten. These two processes narrow the airway passages, making breathing very difficult at times.

New Zealand has one of the world’s highest asthma rates with asthma and respiratory diseases being two of the leading causes of sickness and death in New Zealand. 1 in 6 New Zealanders have a respiratory disease and it is the 3rd most common cause of death.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a term for the diseases emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma. COPD is the fourth top cause of death with 15% of New Zealanders aged over 45 having COPD. Most cases of COPD are linked to smoking, however this can also be caused from breathing in chemical fumes, dust and toxic substances while carrying out work.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ has lots of great resources for asthma patients and carers on their website here.