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26 March 2021

Research supports face mask fit for NZ health workers

New Zealand’s frontline health workers are the focus of research on anthropometry – face shape and size – led by the University of Otago.

The research will confirm requirements for, and may inform changes to, masks currently in use by New Zealand’s health workforce.

“If face masks are comfortable and don’t need a lot of adjusting, it helps them fulfil their protective function for the wearer,” says NZ Health Partnerships Procurement Manager, Wilfrid Rodrigues.

“There is an opportunity to better understand our health workforce’s facial structures and shapes; this research will help us with that.”

NZHP is collaborating with the University of Otago on this initiative, through the Ministry of Health funded initiative. The research is led by University of Otago Professor Raechel Laing.

Original anthropometric studies for developing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) used 1970s data from US military personnel, typically male, and included a limited range of ages and ethnic origin.

“Our health workforce is unique and understanding how people interact with their PPE continues to present challenges. We’re pleased to be working with such an energetic and committed group on this project,” says Raechel.

“Our research is consistent with current international thinking, developed over the last 50 years with increased attention on health and safety in workplaces generally.”

Findings are expected later in 2021 and NZHP will use the research to review current products from its panel of PPE suppliers as well as to progress design and prototype recommendations for New Zealand’s health workforce. It will also inform future procurement requirements. fffff ffff