An Australian-first testing facility will enable local manufacturers of surgical face masks to fast-track the supply for frontline health workers.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the new CSIRO facility in Melbourne will boost Australia’s sovereign capability to produce essential medical supplies more efficiently and at a lower cost.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many Australian businesses shift quickly to meet unprecedented demands for personal protective equipment,” Minister Andrews said.
“This new facility gives companies access to accredited testing here at home so they can demonstrate their products meet rigorous Australian standards.
“Test evidence from the facility will give confidence to manufacturers who supply vital equipment to frontline medical staff, and make an important contribution to the global response effort.
“This is great news for local manufacturers, who will no longer be required to send their masks and mask materials overseas for testing and it’s further proof of how science is playing a critical role in Australia’s pandemic response.
“The facility will also be able to test masks from other countries, enabling Australia to assist our regional neighbours in their fight against COVID-19.”
CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall has welcomed the announcement.
“It’s inspiring to see Australian science enabling Australian businesses to supply life-saving surgical face masks to protect our frontline health care workers,” Marshall said. “This is another example of how science can support our efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Science is guiding us through COVID-19, and science will help us grow on the other side. There’s not much Aussie innovation can’t solve, whether it’s finding the right vaccine or creating Australia’s only NATA-accredited face mask testing facility.”
The National Association of Testing Authorities accredited facility is now open and is testing masks and mask materials for breathability, blood penetration and bacterial filtration efficiency.