Adding Safety Protocols to COVID-19 Relief Efforts
The DIY list of ways people can help out during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow daily, with everything from face shields and masks to replacement ventilator valves and other devices. However, one important step in the many DIY and how-to project instructions seems glaringly absent: health and safety procedures during the construction and assembly process.
We’ve seen only
one two sets of instructions so far that include any discussion of COVID-19 related safety protocols in construction and assembly (and on which we’ve now modeled our own). The first one that caught our eye that dedicated any significant discussion to the need for sanitized production and assembly of a COVID-19 related item, is for the Prusa Face Shield. First and foremost, the instructions advise:
WARNING: Wash your hands and your surroundings first, before you start to assemble the face shield.
The instructions then advise, “ Act as if you were infected by the COVID-19 virus . Wear a face mask and a fresh pair of gloves when collecting each batch of printed parts. Store the parts immediately in a sealable bag.”
It goes on to recommend that those creating the shields communicate with clients and recipients about the condition and type of manufacturing environment in which the shields are made, and recommends not distributing completed shields for at least 2-3 to avoid possible transmission of COVID-19. They also recommend not storing all of the finished stock in one place, to minimize the risk of cross contamination. Read the entire set of sanitation guidelines here.
More recently ( March 28 ), we discovered a great sanitation guide by Tinkerine, as well, related to production of their face shields which are specifically designed for rapid assembly times – just 5 seconds – and very minimal 3D Print time (17 min). Their sanitation guides are quite similar to Prusa’s, with added guidance on disinfecting 3D printers before and after use.
Both of these protocols provide excellent advice that can be applied to development of any 3D printed or other fabricated parts or items intended to be used by health care workers or others on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. While cleaning face shields is fairly straightforward, keeping 3D printed items germ free is a little more challenging. One study done last year, found that hydrogen peroxide gas plasma seemed to be effective. Given that most of us don’t have access to hydrogen peroxide gas plasma, other precautions need to be taken with respect to handling and assembling, namely keeping hands clean or using gloves.
With regard to facial masks, the masks can be laundered of course, but they must also be handled in clean environments with clean hands, and completed masks worn by makers to test out, should not be distributed for public use. As with the shields, finished products should be assembled in a clean environment, with clean hands and then stored in sealable bags.
The recommendation to “ act as if you were infected by the COVID-19 virus ” is a good one for the production of any devices, especially PPE related gear intended for those most at risk of harm, and should inspire all makers and labs to be as careful as possible while trying to help.
Basic health and safety precautions can include using face masks, working on clean surfaces, with clean hands or gloves, disinfecting completed items however indicated and then immediately storing them in sealed bags or containers. It’s also important to remember that most of the DIY items making the rounds are supplemental in nature only , and most are not medically approved to protect users against COVID-19 or other viruses. They are stop gap measures, intended to provide some measure of help when there’s nothing else. And that makes it all the more reason to be as careful as we can be.
The more careful we all are, the safer and more useful the help we provide can be for everyone who uses the items we make.
Visit our Resource page to see our list of curated COVID-19 related Resources for the DIY Community. If anyone can contribute to the discussion, with evidence based information or resources, please let us know, here or via our social media pages.