The NIOSH has begun sending out requests for information to a variety of facilities concerning their stockpiles of personal protective equipment and how it is being stored. This was prompted by the fact that in previous public health responses, it was found that many places that store personal protective equipment don’t take the necessary steps to ensure it doesn’t pass its shelf life.
If an emergency were to occur and people were using the “expired” personal protective equipment, they may not receive the level of protection that they expected, which could leave many at significant risk.
The request for information from the NIOSH read,
“Resource limitations may lead facilities to stockpile PPE in environments that do not meet manufacturer storage recommendations or exceed shelf life, increasing the potential for PPE degradation. Even when resources exist to store PPE per manufacturer’s environmental recommendations, the influence of long-term storage time alone on PPE performance has been questioned.”
Once they get the necessary responses, the NIOSH will be designing a study that is used to sample N95 respirators as well as certain types of high-protection level surgical gowns. This will compare the performance of these types of PPE from stockpiles against the established standards to see if long-term storage and/or storage environment has a negative impact on the performance of PPE.
While this information gathering and study are performed, it is a good time for any facility with a stockpile of personal protective equipment to make the effort to ensure it is all going to work properly. Checking the environment where it is stored to ensure it meets manufacturer recommendations and discarding any PPE that is past the set shelf date, will help ensure this equipment is in proper working order when it is needed.
The comment period for this action from the NIOSH is open through April 24th, 2017 and there are additional details that can be found in the Federal Register by clicking HERE.
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