The Queensland government will conduct an audit of the personalised protective equipment (PPE) given to frontline health workers after nurses complained of ill-fitting masks.
After the Queensland Midwives and Nurses Union ramped up a year-long battle to improve protective gear and safeguards for staff treating COVID-19 patients, Health Minister Yvette D'Ath says the state government will do the audit as required by the state Industrial Relations Commission.
"The Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union has raised this issue with Queensland Health, and that recommendation is being implemented as we speak," she said.
"What this audit is intended to do is identify: are we doing the proper fit-testing on the PPE, and the checking that we should be doing for these health workers.
"We are providing the right masks for the work that's being done, the protocol is that this fit testing and checking should be done.
"If it's not being done at certain hospitals that needs to be and that's what this audit will identify."
The QNMU welcomed recommendations for fit-testing of PPE after lodging a formal dispute with Queensland's industrial umpire on Wednesday.
"The QNMU will be following the status of these audits very closely, on behalf of our members, our patients and the whole community," union secretary Beth Mohle said.
Ms Mohle said some members had reported they were yet to be properly fit tested to ensure items such as masks correctly fit their faces.
Fit-checking involves double-checking PPE to make sure it's being worn as it should be, and that seals on high-filtration masks are intact before and after every shift.
The union said it wrote to Queensland Health before Easter demanding an urgent audit to establish the level of fit testing done so far, and how often fit checking was being done before and after shifts.
Queensland Health is required to report back on the audit findings on April 27, the union said.
Australian Associated Press