A New Era
A New Era
Prior to the introduction of the Australian Standard, the International Wool Secretariat's licensing agreements underpinned the identification and marketing of medical sheepskins in Australia. This system, however, had several shortcomings:
- The test procedures used to underpin the genuine licensing agreements did not predict the expected product performance.
- Counterfeit Woolmark licensing stamps were commonly used on products that, in many instances, clearly didn't meet the basic requirements of the health care industry.
- There was a subsequent loss of authority from the position the product initially held in the market place.
In May 1997, the licensing agreements were withdrawn from use on all sheepskin products.
As a result of the shortcomings of the previous system, and the dissatisfaction of both users and promoters of quality products, the CSIRO in partnership with industry has developed new technologies and standards which enable the production of long life, high performance, medical sheepskins.
Critical aspects of the Australian Medical Sheepskin are detailed as follows:
- At a glance, neither expert nor novice can determine if a piece of sheepskin or leather can be continuously washed at high temperatures. The performance criteria for medical sheepskin is arguably the most demanding made of any leather product. The capacity to continuously cycle sheepskin through a commercial laundry regime at a temperature of 80'C is the result of the research carried out at Australia's CSIRO. At these high temperatures, thermal disinfections are easily achieved and the tanning technology provides a stable leather for a long life over many wash/dry cycles. Test results indicate 50 plus cycles are possible when laundered to the Australian Standard.
- Wool type, wool length and the final finish are also important components of a medical sheepskin. CSIRO laboratory and hospital trials have identified guidelines for the initial tannery selection of skin and wool type, and the specification for the wool finish appropriate for pressure area care.
A medical sheepskin claiming compliance with Australian Standard AS 4480.1 requires that a permanent label be bonded to the leather side replicating one of the four labels displayed on the "How do you identify a Genuine Sheepskin?" region of this website.
Each label displays the Australian Medical Sheepskin symbol and provides the following information:
- The manufacturer's identification number. (The register is held at Standards Australia.)
- Performance identification (Table 1).
- Hitemp (Green) - Wash up to 80'C. / Dry up to 60'C.
- Regtemp (Blue) - Wash up to 60'C. / Dry up to 60'C.
The Australian Medical Sheepskin has come of age. When purchasing a medical sheepskin, users can now be assured that the skin can be laundered many times over (up to 50 during CSIRO laundry trials) and achieve high level disinfections that will meet hospital infection control standards.
The wool characteristics will maximize pressure relief for low risk pressure area care and provide enduring comfort for all who use an Australian Medical Sheepskin in the health care environment.
Never before has such a comprehensive standard defined the high performance requirements of medical sheepskin.