20 March 2019

Filter Servicing for PC3/PC4 Facilities

Containment housing filter

Service Considerations for High Risk Physical Containment Facilities

Before attempting to service the filters within a high risk physical containment facility (specifically PC3 or PC4 rated), there are several highly important and potentially lifesaving steps that must be considered.

These considerations would also apply to hospital or healthcare facilities that include isolation rooms with containment housings.

What are PC3 or PC4 rated facilities?

PC3 or PC4 (QC3/QC4) rated facilities are considered high risk because hazardous airborne agents that pose a threat to health are (or may potentially be) present and containment systems that include HEPA air filtration are used.

Areas within these facilities are negatively pressurised to assist with the strict control of airborne contaminants, for the safely of all personnel and the external environment.

Within the plant rooms of these PC3 or PC4 rated facilities, HEPA filtration containment housings or Bag In / Bag Out (BIBO) containment filtration systems may be installed.   BIBO systems include HEPA and/or HEGA filters, bubble tight isolation dampers, decontamination / fumigation ports, a remote scan arrangement for testing and BIBO arrangements for filter change out.

For more information on what Physical Containment (PC) Facilities are, refer to our previous blog article, which outlines the four PC levels and their requirements.

Service considerations for PC3 or PC4 rated facilities

The filter service requirements of a PC3 or PC4 rated facility are significantly different to the filter service requirements of a standard commercial building.

This is a scenario where you are best to ask questions first,

  • Is it safe?
  • What effects will opening the system have on operation?
  • What are the facility procedures that need to be followed?

As a service technician – you would not simply walk into the plant room of a PC3 or PC4 rated facility and open the door of the filter housing to check and change out the filters – as you risk your own health, the health of building occupants (and potentially the entire living environment).

Written approval from the facility manager / operator of a PC3 or PC4 rated facility should be sought prior to any service work being undertaken, along with details of standard operating procedures, the required SWMS/JSA etc.

Depending on the nature of each PC3 or PC4 rated facility, it would be expected that a range of standard operating procedures in various scenarios, would be available for potential service personnel to follow.

A separate set of standard operating procedures may be required for:

  • Emergency filter change-out
  • Scheduled filter change-out
  • Pre-filter change-out
  • HEPA / HEGA filter change-out

Each set of these standard operating procedures may include:

  • Preparation works prior to filter change-out (including fumigation/decontamination)
  • Operation of the facility during change-out
  • Filter change-out procedure
  • Actions required re-establishing operating status and certification
  • Restart of system
  • Associated risk analysis and SWMS/JSA requirements

Preparation works prior to filter change-out

  • This may include the activation of complete duty/standby systems.
  • It should be noted that if complete duty/standby systems are not used, the area protected by the containment system will be affected by air pressure variances that may pass out of normal operating ranges during the filter change out.
  • Subject to the type of hazardous airborne agents exposed to the containment filtration system, the system may require decontamination (fumigation/bio strips etc.) prior to starting works.

Filter change-out procedure

  • Procedure for non BIBO containment housings.
  • Procedure for BIBO containment filtration systems.
  • Disposal of contaminated items including filters
  • Decontamination of personnel

For more information on typical Bag In/Bag Out (BIBO) filter change out procedures for Flanders/CSC (or comparable) side access housings, refer to our downloadable step by step guide.

Actions required re-establishing operating status and certification

  • Replacement HEPA filters would require on-site testing and certification by a NATA accredited technician using an acceptable upstream challenge gas and calibrated and certified photometers.
  • Replacement HEGA filters may require on-site testing by a qualified technician using an acceptable upstream challenge gas and calibrated and certified halide detectors.

Restart of system

  • Procedure for the correct system restart.

Associated risk analysis and SWMS/JSA requirements

  • This may be required for each scenario, and subject to the outcome the actions required

Airepure specialised filter servicing

Airepure design and supply containment filtration systems for PC3/PC4 (QC3/QC4) rated facilities and hospital or healthcare facilities that include isolation rooms.

We also supply relevant national support services, including product installation, routine maintenance / filter change-out and NATA accredited on-site testing and certification of HEPA filters, and on-site fumigation and testing of biological safety cabinets.

Contact Airepure for further details on these services.

©Airepure Australia 2019.

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Airepure Australia
Ph: 1300 886 353
Email: info@airepure.com.au

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