WA produces 10,000 face shields for frontline healthcare workers

The University of Western Australia (UWA), Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, WA Department of Health and Adarsh Australia have manufactured 10,000 face shields to protect frontline health workers responding to COVID-19.

The project aims to meet the needs of healthcare workers to effectively support the COVID-19 emergency without risking their own lives.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved shields have started production through the Department of Health at a factory in Malaga.

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander said it was vital to provide expertise to support the Department of Health and community groups working on the frontline of the COVID-19 response.

“UWA is delighted to make this strong contribution to the pandemic response through the academic research and expertise of our world-class researchers and medical facilities,” she said.

“Health workers are working around the clock to keep our communities safe, but they too need to be kept safe so we hope this initiative to produce large volumes of PPE will play a significant role in this.”

Associate Professor Brendan Kennedy and Dr Lachlan Kelsey from UWA’s School of Engineering and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, designed the prototypes of the shields, working collaboratively with the Chief Scientist of Western Australia Professor Peter Klinken.

The prototypes were taken through to production with assistance from local industry and the Department of Health.

The venture is led by the East Metropolitan Health Service’s Centre for Implant Technology and Retrieval Analysis, which will also oversee production and ensure shields meet high standards of safety and quality.

Professor Kennedy said the engineers and project partners had seen an urgent need to support healthcare workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) equipment.

“During this pandemic a lot of PPE has been in short supply and face shields are one of the items critical to protecting health care workers,” Professor Kennedy said.

“It’s vitally important that we protect frontline health workers and ensure that they don’t risk their lives as they care for others.

“Only through protection of those responding to the pandemic can we ensure we enable those people to do the best job they can in keeping us safe.”

Perkins director, Professor Peter Leedman, thanked the community for supporting the early stage of development of the face shields.

“We are extremely grateful to the many members of the community who offered their support when the biomedical engineers were first developing designs for the face shields,” he said.

“This has been an extremely collaborative effort amongst both organisations and the wonderful people of Western Australia and we have been overwhelmed by the response.”