XD One demo units have landed in Central Europe

Working with distributors and partners overseas is how Trolex gain exclusive access to the businesses that need our products to save the lives of their employees.

We value our close partners as much as our own employees and have good relationships that last way beyond the business transaction. This includes trusting our partners to demonstrate our new technology to their customers, in mutual understanding, so our partners and their customers can get ‘up close and personal’ to our XD One and can try it out for themselves in a real-life environment.

Our Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg (BeNeLux) distributor, BASystemen, ordered six demo units of the XD One to give to their customers to trial. They landed a few days ago, and their directors are already behind our campaign to get these monitors into the hands of every worker who needs one, and to start saving lives straight away.

Khoa Nguyen is a keen advocate of field trails, and comments ‘we love feedback!’ He intends to lend them out to his customers so they can ‘try out all functionalities’.

The dust monitors themselves have been met with great praise and Khoa says, ‘We truly believe that the XD One is a nice solution to the market needs for a personal dust monitor, which is simple to use, reliable and cost effective’. He adds, ‘[s]ize is great, weight is perfect and very easy to use’.

Khoa is happy with our partnership, and concludes by saying, ‘Response is quick and partner conditions are good so both parties benefit long term’ and suggests that as a company, BASystemen can ‘[d]efinitely learn from this’.

If you are a distributor and would like to request demo units of the XD One, please get in touch by emailing sales@trolex.com.

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The air pollution emergency

We’re living through an air pollution emergency. One that’s already claiming thousands of lives and costing billions of pounds. And that news shouldn’t come as a surprise.

We wrote in a recent blog, The threat from particulates: It gets worse about an American academic study: “Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter, Residential Proximity to Major Roads and Measures of Brain Structure.”

The report clearly shows the risks that people living over extended periods near busy main roads face from fine dust that causes respiratory diseases, results in brain atrophy (brain shrinkage) and leads to an increased risk of stroke and other disease.

Another academic paper, ‘Air Pollution and Noncommunicable Diseases’ suggests that air pollution may be damaging ‘every organ in the body.’

Unfortunately there was nothing ‘academic’ about the consequences of particulate inhalation for nine year old Ella Kissi-Debrah, whose death in 2013 was caused by ‘acute respiratory failure, severe asthma and air pollution exposure’.

“The whole of Ella’s life was lived in close proximity to highly polluting roads. I have no difficulty in concluding that her personal exposure to nitrogen dioxide and PM was very high,” stated the coroner.

Far from unusual

And the really sad thing about Ella and her family’s suffering?

Is that it’s far from unusual. 

According to the World Health Organisation, air pollution is the “new tobacco”, killing 7 million people a year and harming billions more.

“No one, rich or poor, can escape air pollution. It is a silent public health emergency.” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general.

More than nine in ten people breathe toxic air and 300 million live where toxic fumes are six-times above international guidelines and the health impacts are profound – especially for children.

Excuses, excuses

So what’s going on? How is it possible that so many people suffer so much through filthy, contaminated air?

A rush for profits? For progress? For economic advancement? A lack of technology? Insufficient knowledge? Clarity of thought? Understanding? Will? A short-termism that prioritised wealth over health? 

In truth it’s all these factors and more. Reasons, more often excuses, that in the not so distant future people will look back at in horror. A situation where people simply won’t believe that things were allowed to get so bad and stay so bad for so long.

A turning tide?

Thankfully, though belatedly, the weight of detailed research, visible interventions from the likes of WHO, an increasingly active green movement and high profile tragedies such as the death of Ella Kissi-Debrah are seeing attention at last turning to the issue of air pollution and how best to tackle it.

So much so that the language of particulates and respiratory health is even entering mainstream use. The government responded to Ella Kissi-Debrah’s death with, “We are delivering a £3.8bn plan to clean up transport and tackle NO2 pollution, and going further in protecting communities from air pollution, particularly PM2.5 pollution, which we know is particularly harmful to people’s health.’

Which is great.

But while a public recognition of the issue and an ability to deploy the right words in addressing the issue is a positive sign, it’s the ability of governments and industry to actually do something about air pollution that really matters. Action that all of us will be judged on in the future. 

Part of the problem? Or part of the solution?

Signs are mixed. For example, despite the UK Government’s recognition that we all need to be protected from toxic air, and despite pledging funds to fight that cause, it has so far voted against proposals to put WHO pollution limits into UK law, arguing that they’re ‘uneconomical.’

‘Were you part of the problem or part of the solution?’ we’ll all be asked in the not too distant future.

Which is why we do what we do here at Trolex – to be a very proud and purposeful part of the solution. 

Just take a look at our new Air XD and XD One products – accurate, simple to use, easy to maintain, realtime particulate detection technology that keeps people safe.

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The air pollution emergency

In an ideal world, the risk of dangerous airborne particles simply wouldn’t exist in the workplace. We cannot understate how important respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is, even compared to all the other safety technologies available.

The proper application of the Hierarchy of Controls (HoC), though Elimination, Substitution, Engineering, Administration and PPE would mitigate the threat and make sure that everyone was properly protected. 

The unfortunate reality is that many workers still face threats from a wide range of hazardous dust and particulates, such as silica, construction dust, fibreglass, wood, asbestos and many more. Respiratory protective equipment is one of the most effective safety technologies against silica dust and other harmful inhalants.

While every stage of the HoC can play an important role in helping to make workplaces safer, it’s the final stage, the personal protective equipment (PPE)/RPE – the provision and proper wearing of suitably selected and fit tested RPE – that presents the biggest challenge.

Why?

Because too often, RPE fails to provide the protection that providers or wearers think it does.

Avoiding IPPI equipment

The IPPI test is a good way to make sure the RPE and PPE you provide – or have been provided – is fit for purpose. Before entering any environment where there’s a risk of harmful particle inhalation, it’s important to check whether the RPE is:

  • Inappropriate – the wrong equipment for the wrong job
  • Poorly maintained – RPE needs to be kept in good condition and properly maintained and stored
  • Poorly explained – the employee lacks sufficient training and information on the correct use of the RPE provided
  • Ill fitting – loose fitting or poorly maintained masks with gaps around the edges allows dangerous particles to be inhaled.

The Construction Dust Partnership (an industry collaboration that helps help construction industry contractors, employers, operatives and others manage the risk of exposure to dusts and raise awareness) says, ‘any gaps around the RPE’s edges allow the contaminant-laden air to pass straight to the nose/mouth and be inhaled into the lungs.’ 

For example, did you know that beards or stubble can severely impact the performance of RPE?

‘If the wearer has stubble where the RPE seals to the face, this will make an adequate seal between the skin and the RPE impossible. A lack of knowledge or understanding on how to wear RPE correctly can often lead to an unrealistic expectation of protection.’

In other words, people are working with a false sense of security. Not only must the RPE be fit for purpose, but proper training and guidance must be provided on its use – like any other piece of health and safety technology or equipment. Better would be for checks to be made before entering areas with hazardous substances.

The paradox of RPE

There’s nothing more dangerous than thinking you’re safe when in reality you’re not. When you’re labouring under the illusion that your RPE is protecting you from harm and all it’s doing is placing you squarely in harm’s way, it’s a big problem.

“People are not so good at assessing exposure to a risk,” says risk perception expert Ann Bostrom, of University of Washington. 

It’s something we’ve seen clearly during the Covid pandemic. Masks acting as signifiers of safety rather than providing genuine protection.

A dangerous combination of availability and confirmation bias, the psychology is explained in this Forbes article, drawing comparisons between respiratory protective equipment and seatbelts. It cites a report that shows people drive faster and more recklessly when they wear seatbelts. The same applies to cyclists riding less cautiously when wearing helmets.

So what’s the answer? If industry is consistently failing to apply the Hierarchy of Controls well enough to protect workers, or even worse, lulling workers into a dangerously false sense of security, what can businesses do to properly protect their people?

The answer is surprisingly simple.

Personal wearable dust monitoring

Wear personal dust monitoring. Particulate monitoring that gives you an accurate, realtime understanding of the dust threat you and your workers face.

Properly detecting previously unseen and undetectable threats – seeing it as a real danger, not abstract – allows you to properly challenge it. And in the process, your RPE reclaims its proper protective value – a specific, contextual and essential value.

To be clear, dust monitoring is not a reason to not wear RPE and PPE, but it can make sure you’re aware when the environment changes and whether your equipment is appropriate for the situation you find yourself in.

Instead of being taken for granted, worn out of habit, ‘just in case’ or ‘because that’s the way we do it,’ RPE transforms from dangerous IPPI to safe APPW.

What is APPW?

Instead of IPPI equipment, APPW is respiratory protective equipment that’s:

  • Appropriate – the right equipment for the right job
  • Properly maintained – RPE is kept in good condition, properly maintained and stored
  • Properly explained – the employee gets all the training and information on the correct use of the RPE provided they need
  • Worn correctly – well fitting RPR that prevents the inhalation of dangerous particles 

Get in touch to find out more about how our new Air XD and XD One products – accurate, simple to use, easy to maintain, real-time particulate detection technology – helps your teams use their RPE more effectively.

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The air pollution emergency

As if the known dangers of exposure to particulates weren’t bad enough, new research is showing that long-term exposure to ambient air pollution is associated with a far wider range of diseases and highlights the importance of particulate monitoring.

Not only are 1.4 million people in the UK reporting ‘lung or breathing problems that were caused or made worse by work,’ and 12,000 people dying every year due to occupational lung disease, evidence is mounting to show that airborne pollution also causes dementia, strokes and skin cancer.

The study, conducted in the USA and first published in the journal Stroke is titled “Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter, Residential Proximity to Major Roads and Measures of Brain Structure“.

Examining the brains of more than 900 people over 60 years old, it revealed that long-term exposure to fine dust causes both brain atrophy (brain shrinkage) and leads to an increased risk of stroke and other disease.

Implications for business, too

Not only is this news alarming for those who live near busy roads, it also draws attention to the added dangers faced by those working in conditions, and with materials, they may have previously thought safe. 

For example, welders, who, despite now using supposedly less dangerous materials and working in spaces where local exhaust ventilation (LEV) is employed, seem to be vulnerable to a far wider range of illnesses than previously thought.

As the report highlighted, even limited exposure of fine dust particles can lead to the heightened risk of cerebrovascular disease and cognitive impairment.

Benjamin Howell on the Fabricator.com says, ‘at the nanolevel, invisible to the human eye, the concentration of particulate matter can pose a great risk to welders. Studies show that welding fume particulates are mostly smaller than 0.1 micrometer, which makes nearly all welding fume particles respirable. They can penetrate deep into the alveolate region of the lungs during inhalation and remain firmly fixed there.’ 

It’s not all bad news though.

The first step towards change: Recognise you have a problem

By revealing far greater and far wider reaching dangers than previously acknowledged, the new research means the important issue of how best to protect people from damaging particulates is getting the attention it deserves. 

The sheer weight of evidence amassing from the likes of The Journal of Cleaner Production, The British Medical Journal, and Harvard is forcing the hand of governments, regulatory bodies and employers. The necessary steps to protect not just their workers, but every one of us exposed to dangerous airborne pollutants, are being considered and taken. This includes controls, sensors and particle detectors, among other things.

A preemptive strike on harm with dust detectors

What if a threat could be detected before it even became a threat? What if you could be alerted to the presence of even the smallest of damaging airborne particulates before they had the chance to damage health?

Leading H&S expert John Cairns says:

“The best thing is to detect the hazard before you’re exposed to the hazard. Before you’re exposed to the hazard or a high concentration. You can get the hell out of there, or with the way this new technology works you can set off ventilation systems to clear the area.

The whole ethos behind the H&S Exec is to reduce the risk to as low as is reasonably practicable. I think the XD One is adding to that – it’s enhancing the safety system.”

Learn more about particulate monitoring

Particulate monitoring is an effective way at reducing the risk to workers in hazardous working environments. When combined with RPE, PPE and other equipment, the threats from dust and particle inhalation are reduced drastically. This has a big impact on worker health, morale and productivity.

Send us a message to find out more about our work to help organisations like yours protect your people from the threat of damaging dust particulates with sensors, dust detectors and systems tailored to your work environment.

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The air pollution emergency

A sign of things to come.

Despite the protests of Johnson and Johnson, who played the indignation card at a “fundamentally flawed trial, grounded in a faulty presentation of the facts.”

The verdict is “[at] odds with decades of independent scientific evaluations confirming Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer,” they quibble.

$2.12 billion in damages tells another story.

That’s what a Missouri court ordered Johnson and Johnson pay to women suffering ovarian cancer caused by asbestos in its baby powder and other talc products. Litigation that looks like just the beginning.

Not just for Johnson and Johnson, who now face21,800 lawsuits claiming that its talc products cause cancer because of contamination from asbestos, a known carcinogen,’ but also for the many employers the world over who fail to properly protect their workers from preventable disease.

Preventable disease

Sarah Jardine, HSE’s chief inspector of construction says: “Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents.”

In the UK alone, 14,000 people a year die prematurely from largely preventable disease caused by the inhalation of dust in the workplace.

Preventable because there’s no excuse for remaining ignorant of the potentially fatal consequences of exposure to dangerous microscopic airborne particles.

If you’re serious about running a business you need to be serious about protecting your people

While lack of awareness has certainly been a problem in the past, now, with plenty of readily available research, public health messaging and examples of high-profile litigation, there’s simply no reason for companies to ignore their responsibilities,

Especially following new advances in dust measurement technology.

So not only is ignorance (still) an illegitimate excuse, with new technology that provides you and your workers with real-time and highly accurate dust readings in any working environment, so too is blaming a lack of suitable technology.

Put simply, if you’re serious about running a business you need to be serious about  protecting people from the dust dangers that surround them. Serious about both understanding those dangers  and then putting the measures in place to mitigate them.

And as if the moral obligation wasn’t enough, the commercial implications are enormous, too – as Johnson and Johnson are discovering.

A preemptive strike on harm with dust detectors

What if a threat could be detected before it even became a threat? What if you could be alerted to the presence of even the smallest of damaging airborne particulates before they had the chance to damage health?

Leading H&S expert John Cairns says:

“The best thing is to detect the hazard before you’re exposed to the hazard. Before you’re exposed to the hazard or a high concentration. You can get the hell out of there, or with the way this new technology works you can set off ventilation systems to clear the area.

The whole ethos behind the H&S Exec is to reduce the risk to as low as is reasonably practicable. I think the XD One is adding to that – it’s enhancing the safety system.”

Learn more about particulate monitoring

Particulate monitoring is an effective way at reducing the risk to workers in hazardous working environments. When combined with RPE, PPE and other equipment, the threats from dust and particle inhalation are reduced drastically. This has a big impact on worker health, morale and productivity.

Send us a message to find out more about our work to help organisations like yours protect your people from the threat of damaging dust particulates with sensors, dust detectors and systems tailored to your work environment.

All you need to know

Are you still unclear about the extensive danger of dust? Or do you already realise the danger, want to do something about it but are unsure how technology can help you?

Either way feel free to call us or get in touch by filling out the form below. We’ll tell you the many ways that we help businesses across all sorts of sectors, all over the world. Everything you need to know about protecting your workers from the threat of disease, and your business from the threat of litigation – and all its damaging implications.

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The New ISO Standard 23875 That Will Save Lives

As any responsible employer knows – a clear threat to the health and welfare of your staff demands a clear response.

In industries such as construction, mining, tunnelling and manufacturing, the obvious risks to health posed by clouds of workplace dust can be tackled in new and different ways. Some precautions and protections include:

  • Staff wearing PPE
  • The installation of dust monitoring equipment
  • The application of various dust suppression techniques such as spraying water, or using local exhaust ventilation (LEV) or on-tool extraction.

With more awareness of the dangers of dust, these protections become more effective as they are applied more extensively across different scenarios and environments.

However, dust detectors and other other equipment are only part of the story.

The Dust You Don’t See Coming

More dangerous than the dust you can see, is the dust you can’t see.

Particulates can reach beyond the frontline workers benefiting from protection to threaten support and ancillary staff nearby.

An unfortunate consequence of focusing efforts solely on frontline workers is there are other members of the team who aren’t monitored and protected. Plant and equipment operators working in enclosed cabins, for example, might assume they’re safe but, with microscopic airborne hazards so hard to detect, they’re still exposed to serious amounts of risk.

This is one of the main reasons for the introduction of a new international standard for a consistent approach to designing, testing, operating, and maintaining the air-quality systems of operator enclosures – ISO 23875.

A standard that recognises and responds to the extent of the dangers caused by dust right across a working environment.

A Universally Popular Standard

It’s a move that’s been welcomed across the board, with the Australian Mining Safety Journal and Mining Review Africa writing, ‘the new standard is likely to place a greater emphasis on the air quality inside the cabin than previously addressed.’

A recent ISO workshop run by Jeff Moredock, Lead at the ISO Working Group, advertised that the new cabin air standard will ‘Improve operator alertness, create a safer work environment and increase productivity.’

Of course, the big question is how do you properly assess the air quality in your cabin? How can you enforce a new and improved standard if you’re not able to accurately record particulate levels in real time?

New Standards in Dust Monitoring for New ISO Standard 23875

This makes the introduction of new, wearable or in-cab, dust detection monitoring technology such as the XD One so timely.

The XD One is low cost, lightweight, easy to use, easy to maintain and 5 times more accurate than other devices. It continually measures every particle from as small as 0.38 to 40μm. By issuing every operator an XD One, they’re constantly reading the air quality in their immediate environment and instantly alerted to any danger.

What Difference Can Personal Dust Monitors Make?

In the past, dust monitors were large, clunky pieces of technology that needed to be placed in an area you expected to be hazardous. This was time consuming and took multiple workers to place, set-up and maintain and was inaccurate and often not in real-time. 

As this equipment has developed, it can now be worn by workers to monitor the particulates in the space directly around their air-ways.

The XD One also delivers results in real-time, making it an important part of any safety system or process. Dust can be released at any point and isn’t always noticeable. It can also travel long distances on very slight air currents, so the more warning employees have, the better they can react.

Time you took a closer look at real-time operator cabin monitoring?

With new regulations pushing for better safety measures and standards in hazardous workplaces and environments, you need to stay on top of everything. Your workers will also benefit, and this keeps them working for longer. 

Call us or get in touch using the form below for more details on how the XD One can help you align with ISO Standard 23875 as well as protect workers across your whole site from the danger of microscopic airborne particles.

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‘The industry creates this risk. It now needs to acknowledge it, own it and deal with it.’

The IOSH Construction Group Committee Construction Dust Survey makes for sobering reading. Firstly, it highlights the fact that much more needs to be done to increase awareness of the dangers of dust from an employees perspective:

“Dust causes a lower level of concern among employees than the more immediately noticeable dangers of construction, such as falls… they do not perceive it as a significant immediate risk to their wellbeing unlike falls from height, equipment etc.”

It also highlights a lack of awareness from the industry as a whole. Of 618 health and safety professional respondents, ‘44.6 percent thought that the industry gave little or no priority to the issue, and a similar proportion (42.4 percent) felt that it received the same priority as other health issues.’

And even when awareness exists, the report found that compliance is weak.

‘54.0 percent of respondents indicated that workers sometimes fail to follow prescribed methods of work. Over a third of respondents (36.2 percent) indicated that this happened most or all of the time.’

So what’s going on? Why, even when employers and their onsite teams are in possession of the facts, do they too often choose to ignore the dangers posed by dust?

Dangers that lead to 10 deaths a week from lung cancer caused by silica dust, let alone the other illness and premature death from other cancers, silicosis, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

A cognitive dissonance

You’ll be familiar with the concept of cognitive dissonance, ‘the state of discomfort felt when two or more modes of thought contradict each other’.

Like knowing smoking is bad for you, but continuing to smoke.

Like, “we know dust is dangerous but there’s no convenient, low-cost alternative to handling the risk – so we’ll stick with what we’ve always done.”

Barriers to change

There’s a lot to learn in the Construction Dust Survey.

More than anything, it’s highlighted that despite being increasingly aware of the dangers, people aren’t taking action.

Somehow, industry has convinced itself that the culture and adoption of, the management of, and the cost, complication and general hassle of creating a safe working environment is more trouble than just leaving things be.

Here are just some of the barriers to change noted in the survey:

Culture: The culture of the industry, and its ‘traditional’ view of dust as an expected or normal part of construction work, can be a significant barrier.

Use: Workers often view the controls as cumbersome, impractical, affected by poor maintenance or giving rise to other risks. This deters use. 

Employees: Implementing controls effectively depends on good management and supervision. Operators generally choose not to use controls. 

Management arrangements: In general, the industry does not seem to manage dust control issues adequately. Comments refer to a link between the management priority given to this issue and the corresponding conditions found on-site.

Cost: Dust control is often viewed as labour-intensive, expensive, time-consuming and a nuisance that slows work.

‘The industry creates this risk. It now needs to acknowledge it, own it and deal with it.’

It somehow seems that as awareness increases, industry seems to think a cultural shift towards safer working environments will run its own natural course over time.

“It is like wearing a hi-vis 15 years ago or hard hats. It took years for the culture to change.” says a contributor to the report.

Fortunately, we’ve taken a far more proactive approach.

A fast-track alternative

What if we could fast track that safer working environment?

What if that cognitive dissonance could be eased instantly and increased awareness could be achieved overnight? And what if you only ever had to use dust control methods when you actually needed them?

It’s hard to not be aware of something when an alarm is screaming in your ears and bright lights are flashing.

Well, here’s the thing.

A low-cost, simple-to-use, personal alarm would help solve the problem overnight.

All those adoption and implementation objections, all the excuses and all those barriers to change would evaporate. Instantly.

And here’s another thing.

That low-cost, simple-to-use, personal alarm exists.

It’s new and it’s here.

The XD One personal dust monitor.

Call us or get in touch by completing the form below. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about how both products can protect your workers from the threat of preventable disease.

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6 Steps To Understanding Particulate Monitoring In The Workplace

Research released from the World Health Organisation shows that air pollution in the workplace is an issue across the globe.

While pioneering dust monitoring systems are being introduced in more workplaces than ever, it’s important that employees themselves champion clean air and revolutionary technology, and this starts with understanding particle monitoring and why we need it..

Why Should You Care About Particulate Monitoring?

Being aware of the risks at work can help bring about much needed change in many industries. Experts are calling for air pollution to become identified as a separate risk factor in the workplace, so more can be done with particle monitoring and reduce the chance of premature illness for workers.

Every employee should be able to work in a place where the health and safety risks are properly controlled by an employer. However, it can be daunting not knowing where to start when attempting to challenge old workplace habits.

It helps for employees to educate themselves on how to implement this in their work environment, whether it be in mining, construction or other heavy process industries. This helps tackle air pollution in the workplace, as well as other hazards you might face.

Reducing The Risk Of Air Pollution

Here are some important need-to-know facts and information for employees who want to reduce their risk of being exposed to air pollution and harmful substances in the workplace.

1. Naturally Reduce Air Pollution By Making The Change To Renewable Energy

Where possible, encourage employers to switch to renewable sources of energy. This naturally brings down the levels of particulates in the air, making for a cleaner environment and lowering air pollution in the workplace.

2. No Environment Is Too Challenging For Particulate Monitoring

Revolutionary safety technology and dust monitors can reduce risks in even the most polluted work environments. Create safety systems that are unique to your business and the risks from air pollution in the workplace drop significantly. Combined with the right RPE, you’ll be better protected from harmful particulates

3. Protect Outdoor Workers Against Air Pollution

Don’t neglect dust monitoring in outdoor areas. Airborne particulates can be found within a 300-metre radius on construction sites which, when inhaled, can damage your lungs and have long-term health implications.

4. Make Sure Office Workers Aren’t Breathing In Polluted Air

It’s not just manual labour workers who breathe in particulates and need their workspace monitored. Office workers and other administrative staff who work on or near the site can be breathing in the same harmful air, even from cabins and other portable offices. Dust monitoring systems can help here, too.

5. Assess And Control The Risks Of Air Pollution In The Workplace With A Strategy

Even when risks appear minimal, it’s all about control. Implementing strategies means your workforce can be aware of any potential dangers and then act on them accordingly. Outline the processes to follow and RPE/PPE to use for each situation.

6. Know The Facts About Air Pollution In The Workplace

Around 12,000 deaths every year in the UK alone (according to HSE) are linked to exposure to damaging substances, such as silica dust, at work. It’s only by addressing these issues that risks can be minimised and air pollution in the workplace mitigated.

What Progress Has Been Made Around Air Pollution In The Workplace?

The good news is there are now fewer employers that don’t implement strategies in the workplace where there are increased risks, but there is always more that can be done and particulate monitoring is a big step forward in this area.

With so much awareness being raised about the damaging effects of air pollution in the workplace – and in general – companies are wising up to the risks. This means more employees can benefit from a healthier and cleaner work environment, and it’s never too late to learn.

Find out about how Trolex dust monitors like the Air XD can help you monitor particulate levels and create a safer working environment. Get in touch with the team to learn more.

The Risks of Silica Dust Exposure

It’s no secret there are different health and safety concerns for the industrial sector than most others. One of the most prevalent to arise in recent times is about silica dust exposure, and what this means for those working in areas with this risk.

The nature of the work being done, and the environments it’s done in, have highlighted plenty of areas that need to be improved on – not only for the business as a whole but for the benefit of employees, without whom the industry would grind to a halt.

Why is silica dust exposure important, and what can be done to protect those at risk?

Silica, Dust, And Silicosis

The first thing to know is silica dust exposure is not a new thing. It’s been happening for a long time, but as industrial processes and technology have improved over the years, we’ve been able to learn more about it. Knowing what it is, where it comes from and, more importantly, what the effects of it are allow us to make changes to help everyone.

What Is Silica?

Silica, also known as quartz, is a natural substance found all around the world. Sand, gravel, clay and some rocks and stones all include silica. While a material in its own right, it’s also a part of many common building materials like concrete, mortar, bricks and tiles. It’s not unusual for any building or construction site to work with silica dust.

That’s right, even your home is made with some silica.

Where Does Silica Dust Come From?

Whenever silica is present, there’s a risk of silica dust exposure. Industrial workplaces and construction sites are just a couple of examples of places where the risk of inhaling silica dust is high.

Grinding, drilling, cutting and similar tasks releases dust into the air. Depending on the material, this can be mostly harmless or, in the case of silica, dangerous.

Silica dust, or respirable crystalline silica (RCS), is so fine that it can reach deep into the lungs when inhaled. If this happens often enough over a long period of time, it can lead to serious respiratory illnesses or even lung cancer.

What Causes Silicosis?

Silicosis is a serious respiratory illness caused by silica dust exposure over a long time. The longer someone is exposed to silica dust, the worse the symptoms of silicosis will become. Despite this, if exposed to extremely high levels of silica dust over a shorter period, acute silicosis can develop quickly, so you need to be aware of the risk.

According to the CITB, about 3,000 construction workers suffer from lung and breathing problems from their work each year. Not only is this bad for businesses, but worse for workers. In 2005, the HSE estimated silica dust exposure was responsible for more than 500 construction workers deaths.

What Are The Symptoms Of Silicosis?

The symptoms of silicosis can include a persistent cough, shortness of breath, exhaustion and more. Depending on the severity of silica dust exposure, and for how long, the symptoms can appear very quickly or over a much longer period of time.

After years of exposure, these symptoms will worsen and could lead to respiratory failure. This can often be fatal.

Right now, silicosis can’t be cured. The lung damage is irreversible, but it can be managed – especially if caught early. If you’re at risk of silica dust exposure and notice these symptoms, it’s essential to go for a check-up to be safe.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Silicosis And Silica Dust Exposure

While silicosis is a serious condition, and silica dust exposure is a real hazard, there are ways to reduce the risk of inhaling the substance.

We’ve outlined five methods that increase the protection of workers in high risk areas involving silica dust – and these will also work with other hazardous airborne particulates, too.

1. Wear suitable workwear in environments where there’s a risk of silica exposure

One of the most effective ways of minimising silica dust exposure is to provide your workers with personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respirators, which cover the nose and mouth.

Disposable respirators only give minimal protection and need to be changed regularly, so you’ll need to assess the working environment to decide if they can adequately protect your workers from silica dust inhalation – and whether this is a cost-effective solution.

For even more hazardous environments, half or full-face respirators offer a better degree of protection – but they must be cleaned after every use.

2. Keep Equipment Clean In Workplaces With High Levels Of Silica

Contamination can be a major cause of concern in these environments. Workwear can be contaminated by silica dust – which is sometimes so fine that it cannot be seen. Even if something looks clean, it should always be washed separately to avoid the risk of contamination and to remove any invisible silica dust particles.

There are specialist laundries that offer industrial cleaning services to reduce the risk further. Additionally, any equipment used in areas with silica dust should be thoroughly cleaned after each use and stored in a dust-free place.

Refer back to the manual of each piece of equipment for specific cleaning and maintenance details, but some general tips for cleaning dusty equipment include:

  • Switch off and unplug electrical equipment
  • Use a light spray nozzle or lightly damp cloth over the surface
  • Dismantle tools and clean under covers and in between small pieces
  • Use a soft bristle brush to get in cracks and gaps, as well as cleaning notches on blades
  • Leave to dry before reassembling
  • Test equipment works before use.

3. Use Engineered Controls For Dust Suppression

With local exhaust ventilation (LEV), you can remove dust at its point of origin. This is a very effective form of dust suppression, as silica dust containment systems continuously remove and filter the contaminated air.

There are a number of brands and devices out there to handle different levels of dust particles and environments. These range from built-in ventilation systems to portable fans and blowers that can be placed strategically in an area.

4. Use Wet Methods When Working In Dust-Heavy Areas

Before carrying out a task that produces a lot of dust, such as cutting or drilling, you can spray water on the material and area. This is known as the wet method, and suppresses dust particles being expelled into the air as they’re trapped by the moisture.

Regular water works for this, and all you need is a spray bottle. A few sprays of the water onto the material will drastically reduce dust particles in the air.

This is a useful method for reducing silica dust exposure, but it’s not perfect. Even when using the wet method, dust monitoring and respiratory protective equipment should be utilised.

5. Monitor Dust Levels

A dust monitor can assess the air quality in the workplace, whilst also measuring the size and concentration of any airborne particles, such as silica dust. This is one of the best preventative measures you can take to help reduce the risk of silicosis, as constantly monitoring the air in real time allows you to easily spot any areas of concern.

Most dust monitors can only measure one particle size at a time, but the AIR XD Real-Time Dust Monitor uses advanced laser technology to monitor multiple sizes at once, adding an extra level of protection against both silica dust exposure and silicosis.

Find Out More About Reducing Silica Dust Exposure

We can’t state enough just how much of a hazard silica dust exposure is – to both businesses and workers. Anything that can be done, such as the steps above, helps ensure the well-being of the workers most at risk. The more steps you take, the better the conditions and lower the chance of developing silicosis.

Reducing silica exposure in the workplace requires commitment, but if you’re interested in finding out how to protect your workers against the dangers of silica inhalation and reduce the risk of silicosis in your workplace, get in touch.

An introduction to dust monitoring

As employers, we have a responsibility to make sure our people are protected at work. This includes dust monitoring, as some particles can be harmful to a worker’s health.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that around 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles, leading to the inhalation of hazardous particulate matter, such as silica dust. As decision makers and employers, we can work to significantly reduce this number.

How? By employing modern safety technology for dust monitoring.

Effective particulate monitoring procedures and units can help us to protect not only the lives of our people, but the financial future of our businesses. We’re going to explain the fundamentals of dust monitoring and particulate matter.

Dust monitoring jargon

Here’s a basic introduction to some common language around particulate matter and dust monitoring. These terms are what you’ll find across the industries and workplaces dealing with dust monitoring.

You can find a longer glossary of technology types, Air XD-specific terms, diseases and legislation in our Jargon Buster.

For now, the basics; size measurements in particulate monitoring:

  • µm – This is the unit of measurement used to describe the size of an individual particle i.e. 1µm (or a micron/micrometre) = 1 millionth of a meter. For example, a human hair is typically around 60µm diameter.
  • PM (Particulate Matter) – a mix of solid and liquid droplets suspended in the air to form. PM10 refers to all particles of 10µm and below in a sample. Our engineering team mocked up a quick graph that may be easier to understand. It is common practice for legislation to monitor PM1, PM2.5, PM4.25 and PM10 in particular.
  • nm – This is short for nanometre, for particulate sizes which are smaller than 1µm. For example, when we say the Air XD’s range starts at 0.38µm, this is expressed as 380nm in nanometres.
  • Ug/m³ – A measurement of particulate matter present in a given amount of cubic air – the measurement most frequently used by legislation bodies and policies.
  • TSP (Total Suspended Particulates) – a regulatory measurement of the total mass concentration of particulate matter in a concentration of air or liquid.

What Is Dust Monitoring?

Simply, dust monitoring is detecting and assessing the particulate matter (or PM) in the air. This particulate matter is a mix of liquid droplets and solid particles in the air, which is monitored by concentration and size. Once known, controls can be implemented to reduce the risk of inhalation before severe consequences arise.

Each work environment is different, so there are various options on safety technologies for particular monitoring. They provide different levels of accuracy and depth, so there’s a solution for every situation, environment and organisation.

One such solution, like the Air XD, is a modern dust monitor providing in-depth detail of particulate matter in the air. It covers a wide-spectrum of potentially hazardous substances.

Why do we need dust monitoring?

Dust monitoring is important for several reasons. Not only is compliance with the law a big part of this, but good dust monitoring products, like the Air XD or the XD One, will reduce the risk of illness, such as lung cancer or silicosis, and save a lot of lives.

From a business point of view, workers suffering from illness are less productive and need to be replaced more often. This increases training costs, and there’s no guarantee that productivity won’t drop. Protection against potential litigation claims are also a factor to consider.

Invest in good systems and training and any business will be in a better position in the long term.

Dangers of dust inhalation

Respirable dust is the invisible killer that no-one is talking about. This infographic demonstrates the effect of each particulate on the human body and provides examples of each, so you know what to look out for and what those effects look like in reality.

Long-term exposure to some of the most dangerous respirable particulates <2µm could lead to life-threatening diseases like silicosis, COPD, Black Lung Disease and lung cancers.

If you’d like to know more about dust monitoring, it’s advantages and how to get started with the right systems, get in touch with a member of our team now.