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Presenter Bio: Charles Bodas

Charles Bodas Having worked as an industrial hygiene and occupational health and safety consultant for over 20 years in fields such as asbestos, occupational and environmental noise assessment, and hazardous substances exposure monitoring, in 2021 Mr Bodas joined the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) providing a technical lead role for the Respiratory Protection Program (RPP). The RPP at RMH is responsible for respiratory protection for its 10,000+ employees. Respirator fit testing is a key part of the program, which also includes risk assessments and ventilation/indoor air quality improvement projects. Since its inception the RPP has also broadly contributed to research on respiratory protection of healthcare workers with the publication of several papers, most recently in the Medical Journal of Australia. In November 2021, the RPP was awarded the Excellence in Allied Health and Clinical Support Services Award at the Melbourne Health Celebrating Excellence Awards 2021. A selection of recently published papers is outlined below: Ng, I., Kave, B., Begg, F., Bodas, C. R., Segal, R., & Williams, D. N95 respirators: quantitative fit test pass rates and usability and comfort assessment by health care workers. Medical Journal of Australia. (open access article) Williams, D., Kave, B., Begg, F., Bodas, C., & Ng, I. (2022). Quantitative fit-test concordance of a pair of similar-fit 3M Aura respirator models, 3M 9320A and 3M 1870: A randomized crossover study. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 1-4. (open access article) Williams, D., Kave, B., Begg, F., Bodas, C., & Ng, I. Randomized crossover study comparing quantitative fit tests between Trident™ and 3M™ Aura™ N95/P2 respirators, Infection, disease & health, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 61–65, 2022. Williams, D., Begg, F., Bodas, C., & Ng, I. Respiratory protection preparedness in critical care healthcare workers: An observational audit of facial hair at a major tertiary hospital in Australia, Infection, disease & health, 2022, References 1. Singh, R, Safri, HS, Singh, S, et al, 2020, 'Under-mask bear cover (Singh Thattha technique) for donning respirator masks in COVID-19 patient care', Journal of Hospital Infection, Vol 106, pp. 782-785 2. Under-mask beard cover (Singh Thattha technique): preliminary summary 22 October 2021. Victorian Department of Health.

Presentation Description:


To evaluate the under-respirator elastic band beard cover (Singh Thattha technique) at Royal Melbourne Hospital, in order to provide respiratory protection to bearded healthcare workers (HCWs).


HCWs who are unable to shave due to religious, cultural or medical reasons are prevented from working in areas that require the use of a fitted N95/P2 respirator. This has compounded staff shortages during a period of unprecedented demand on the healthcare system.


An under-mask elastic band beard cover, also known as the Singh Thattha technique1, has been identified as a potential solution that would enable the use of tight-fitting respirators for this cohort of workers. This technique involves the use of a long elastic band, such as a TheraBand® (used for resistance exercise and Pilates) that is placed over the beard, secured closely around the sides of the face and tied on top of the head. The respirator is then worn with the seal formed on the band (artificial skin). This is a relatively novel technique with limited evidence into its reliability and effectiveness2.

RMH is conducting a multi-faceted study assessing the effectiveness of this technique using disposable filtering facepiece respirators that are available to Victorian healthcare workers.


Final results are still pending as the trial is in progress – this will take approximately another 6 weeks. Initial results are very encouraging, with every participant able to achieve 3 consecutive passes with at least one disposable FFR in a quantitative fit test (including doffing and donning the elastic band each time).