FitCheck® by Design Reality: Promoting Higher Standards for Respirator Wearers and Their Employers

Design Reality, a design consultancy based in North Wales, has invented a smart system that revolutionises the process of seal checks, mandatory for every time a respirator is worn. The ground-breaking FitCheck® Technology can prevent the spread of airborne infections by ensuring and demonstrating that every respirator wearer is protected, every time they wear a mask.

The problem

Traditionally, reusable respirators have been worn in a number of heavy industries. With the emergence of the global COVID-19 health crisis, healthcare professionals also must wear reusable RPE with replaceable filters. This is a legal requirement during aerosol generating procedures. The one thing that healthcare and respirator-mandating industries have in common is the obligatory Health and Safety procedure that mask wearers and their employers must observe. Every time a respirator is worn, the wearer performs a seal check by closing the filters, to ensure that the mask fits correctly and that there is no performance breach. In addition, even though a wearer may have passed the obligatory fit test for their specific personal respirator, any minor changes to facial features, such as new facial hair, can cause a breach in mask performance. The problem is that the daily seal checks performed by mask users cannot always detect breaches, thus exposing them and everyone in their proximity to airborne pathogens. FitCheck® eliminates that risk by performing a quantifiable, reliable, visually heuristic seal check every time.

The solution

FitCheck® Technology provides rapid, clear indication whether a respirator is fit for purpose, with sealed filters and safely sealed on the user’s face. FitCheck® comprises our range of sensor-enhanced, wireless fit-checking devices and corresponding apps, designed for autonomous daily checks of respirator performance. FC6110 is the first on-mask quantitative fit-checking device, which can be externally attached to any type of respirator, thus allowing multiple respirator users to share it in turns. FC6120 is the fit-checking device that can be integrated within personal masks, for strictly personal use. The FitCheck® Technology provides customisable monitoring and digital records of every user’s respiratory mask seal and performance. Having this information at their fingertips at all times, employers are protected against potential claims due to mask breaches. They can monitor and correct non-compliance in time, eliminating cases of hazard desensitization or safety complacency. Moreover, performing daily fit checks encourages PPE inspections, higher self-awareness and re-education on the importance of personal safety. FitCheck® would never allow one to wear a faulty mask. Whereas fit testing and H&S initiation is typically a one-time event nowadays, FitCheck® prompts checks for the sake of user safety, and as such, is a perception and mindset-altering technology that provides continuous H&S education. FitCheck® Technology enables informed decisions, prioritises user safety and empowers both employers and employees through process ownership.

FitCheck® devices communicate seal check results via a LED system: purple light prompting a seal check; green indicating that the user can proceed to work wearing their respirator; red light signalling a breach in the respiratory system. This visual indication leaves no doubt for doctors and patients, employers and employees, that everyone present is protected from potential airborne infection.

The impact

Presently, the wear, operation and maintenance of Respiratory Protection Equipment for both healthcare and industrial professionals are regulated to the extent that only self-reporting on daily seal checks and a basic paper trail are required. FitCheck®, Design Reality’s upgradable digital system, integrates with any respirator to remove the subjective factors from daily seal checks, enabling a quicker, objective, quantifiable seal check of any respiratory mask, any time, any place. FitCheck® provides clear reporting on respirator performance and gives peace of mind to both employers and employees, ensuring higher compliance to H&S standards and adherence visibility. FitCheck® Technology is a higher-level safety and prevention measure. As such, its use in any industry signals not just compliance to the highest H&S standards, but also an endorsement of best practices. For employers, FitCheck® Technology means exceptional care for workers, process transparency and accountability.

FitCheck® can have a tangible global impact in airborne disease prevention, if adopted universally by all respirator wearers. Moreover, if legislation is changed to require objectively verifiable seal checks whenever a respirator is worn, we believe that the world would have safer workplaces and more confident and productive workers and citizens.