Respirable dust is the invisible killer no-one is talking about

According to the Health and Safety Executive, around 12,000 people in the UK die from dust inhalation related to exposure in the workplace every year and hazardous industries need to improve the working environment.  

Although regulation is tightening to improve working conditions, it is the fear of legal claims and corporate social responsibility that is focusing attention for managers, board members and shareholders. 

Safety regulation across the globe has become ever more stringent as authorities have recognised the dangers associated with working in hazardous dusty environments, such as respirable crystalline silica (RCS). From mining to tunnelling and further afield, hundreds of thousands of individuals are working every day in high dust environments, and therefore at risk of contracting occupational lung diseases from inhaling hazardous dusts, most notably silica dust. 

While regulations become ever tighter, balancing employee wellbeing with performance, productivity and a good working environment is far from straightforward. 

Without accurate, immediate and continuous access to critical information about the current levels of dust in the environment, organisations simply cannot make health and safety decisions in real time. 

The lack of immediate information regarding air quality is affecting every aspect of the hazardous environment: 

  • Organisations are struggling to ascertain risk levels
  • Regulators are constrained in their ability to adequately enforce new regulation
  • Workers are also suffering – not only potentially long-term health issues but also immediate concerns regarding the workplace

To further add to concerns, the traditional process for analysing air quality has its own flaws; it’s slow and expensive, to name just a few: 

  • Samples are collected through a filter over a period – typically eight hours
  • Samples are sent off for laboratory analysis – a process that takes up to two weeks
  • Data is manually uploaded into the operational system – but can be used only for retrospective analysis

However, there is a solution to the issue of respirable dust in the workplace. Real-time dust monitoring. 

The latest dust monitoring technology operates in real time, providing continuous analysis of dust levels, which is fed directly into an operational system. In addition to being considerably less expensive and time consuming than sending samples to the laboratory for analysis, the real-time insight transforms day to day operations. 

Real-time dust monitoring provides managers and senior members of staff with information as soon as possible on changing dust levels, which can transform the quality of the working environment and improve both health & safety and businesses corporate social responsibility. 

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