New Trolex Silica Detection Technology Inspires New APPG Perspective on Respiratory Health

You may have seen The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Respiratory Health report ‘Silica – the next asbestos’ released in March 2020?

In it, it states:

“Construction workers are still 100 times more likely to die from a preventable occupational disease than from an accident. We also know that approximately 12,000 deaths in the industry each year are linked to exposure to dust and chemicals.”

“Figures from IOSH show that roughly half a million people are exposed to RCS at work in the UK. They estimate that in Europe as a whole, 81% of these are employed in construction or in manufacturing products used in that industry.”

Real time. Accurate. Affordable. 

Experts at Trolex brought our new technology to the APPG’s attention and explained our nine-year silica detection R&D project that resulted in development of the new real-time silica monitor – work that we’d kept closely under wraps until mid 2021.

Silica detection: A changing landscape.

The original report refers to Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) of dust. It says:

“Dust monitoring is vital. Technology advances mean that new methods of real-time exposure level monitoring are now possible. Knowing what the actual exposure levels are is important as exposure will depend on the actual task (e.g. cutting concrete is higher risk than breaking concrete, and the actual exposures depend on the concrete mixture).

The new Code of Practice for Tunnelling […] that requires the use of new technology which is just becoming available and gives an instantaneous measurement.”

The instantaneous measurement the report refers to is the measurement of a variety of dust and particulates (something we already do with our AIR XD Dust Monitor and XD One Portable Dust Monitor, XD1+ Personal Dust Monitor products) – not specifically silica. Silica always being too difficult to uniquely identify. 

Until now.

Game-changing RCS Detection Technology

Our new silica-specific monitoring technology is a game changer.

By working with the authors of the APPG to share the features, benefits and thinking behind the new real-time silica monitoring technology they’ve been able to update the report with new advice on how to best protect workers from the dangers of respirable crystalline silica (RCS). 

Image of AIR XS Silica Monitor
AIR XS Silica Monitor

Image of AIR XD Dust Monitor
AIR XD Dust Monitor

Image of XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor
XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor

Image of XD1+ Personal Dust Monitor
XD1+ Personal Dust Monitor

Book your demonstration today.

Get in touch today to request a demonstration with one of our experts, or find a local distributor to arrange a demonstration with them.

 

An introduction to particulates

As strange as this question may sound…have you ever taken a moment to sit down and think about dust? Really think about it? Think about what it actually is, where it comes from, why it exists, and the impact it might have on our lives? 

Probably not. And why would anyone? It’s just ‘there’ after all, hanging around, doing its thing. A staple accompaniment to life, only momentarily revealed in a shaft of sunlight or a sneeze, or lying on an expensive piece of machinery waiting to be…dusted. 

And while we’re all aware that exposure to dust or particulates can impact health, isn’t it the case that because dust is so small, so ephemeral, and so everywhere, questions of what it actually is, and what it really does, tend to get swept under the carpet?

So here’s a chance to take a closer look at what we’re dealing with when we refer to ‘dust’ and reflect on the significant health implications of exposure to something largely unseen that threatens the lives of many thousands of workers, in many hundreds of different industries around the world.

What is ‘dust’?

Dust, or for the purposes of this explanation, particulate matter, is, defined by Greenfacts as, ‘the sum of all solid and liquid particles suspended in air.’ 

A complex range of components including organic and inorganic particles, such as pollen, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets, particulates can vary greatly in size (from coarse, to fine, to ultrafine), in composition, and in origin. 

Many types of particulate are considered hazardous. 

What causes particulates and how big are they?

Putting dust in the home (​composed of about 20–50% dead skin) to one side, about a third of the particulates that make up air pollution are created by vehicles, exhaust fumes, and particles from tyres and brakes. 

These coarse particles are made up of broken-up larger particles, with a size ranging from 2.5 to 10 µm (a micron is a millionth of a meter). They are also released by agricultural processes, mining, and burning fossil fuels, as well as naturally through pollen, mould spores, and plants and insects.

While industry and the burning of fossil fuels can produce particles from the release of non-combustible materials, other fine sub-micron particles are produced by the condensation of vapourised materials and atmospheric reactions of sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides initially released as gases. 

These fine particulates between 0.1 µm to 2.5 µm, make up most of the airborne particulate mass and represent the main danger to people living or working in a polluted environment.

Ultra fine particles which are smaller than 0.1 µm make up only a few percent of total particulate mass, though they represent over 90% of the number of particles. They’re largely formed from gases that will often end up coagulating to form a larger particulate.

The impacts on health.

Worldwide, the main cause of air pollution is coal burning, with dirty air killing more people than smoking, car crashes and HIV/Aids. It also shortens billions of people’s lives by up to six years according to a new report

The climate crisis too, largely a product of burning fossil fuels, is now making a significant contribution to air pollution through wildfires.

But that doesn’t mean the dangers of inhaling dangerous particulates are limited to smoggy city life or pollution blown cross country from burning forests.

At Trolex, our mission is focused on protecting the millions of people exposed to dangerous workplace dust, mist, fumes, vapour or gas – particulate threats that cover the full spectrum of particulate size.

As we wrote in our The importance of reading the room ebook:

‘Potentially lethal dust is everywhere – from construction dust, to the fibreglass/Glass Reinforced Plastics (GRP) used in loft insulation, and 3D printing that fuses layers and layers of extremely fine dust to create the final shape. 

There’s coffee dust, soldering fumes (20% of people soldering or working around solder develop asthma), carbon fibre and plaster related lime, sulphate hemihydrates, silica, and mica dust that leads to asthma, COPD, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.

There’s cement dust, plus the ubiquitous Amorphous Silica used in car tires, agri chemicals and animal feed, in toothpaste and cosmetics, paint, insulation materials, adhesives, coatings, and printer ink.

There’s biomass dust, dust created by waste disposal and recycling, sawmill wood dust, dust in nail bars, chiropodists, and podiatry clinics, tool sharpening dust and MDF dust particles coated in formaldehyde.’

Protecting people from the dangers of dust and particulate inhalation.

 There’s a huge amount that can be done to protect people from the dangers of inhaling dangerous particulates.

On a national level, governments can actually back up the rhetoric with action, instead of just paying lip service to environmental protection. China’s “war against pollution” that started in 2013 has already, supposedly, reduced levels of fossil fuel pollution by 29%. 

But clearly much more needs to be done by politicians and business leaders to transition industry to greener, less damaging energy and manufacturing production. To promote production methods which will reduce the creation of hazardous dust.

We all have a part to play.

Which is why we’re working so hard to both raise awareness of the problem and to put our Trolex AIR XD Dust Monitor, XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor, XD1+ Personal Dust Monitor andAIR XS Silica Monitor in the hands of people on the frontline who we can help protect.

With 12,000 UK, and half a million workers around the world dying every year from preventable diseases directly related to dust and particulate inhalation, our mission is as simple as it’s singularly focused, as it’s important.

It’s this: To educate the world’s construction, mining, tunnelling, heavy and manufacturing industries on the dust and particulate dangers their workers face. Then to make clear the smart, simple, cost effective ways our XD One and other duct monitoring technology can help them protect them. And ultimately…

For every worker exposed to dangerous particulates to have wearable personal dust monitoring equipment by 2031.

Get in touch today to speak to one of our experts about how real-time dust monitoring can help improve your safety processes and keep your workers safe from harmful respirable dusts.

The importance of reading the room

The importance of reading the room

When it comes to occupational health and safety, new real-time dust monitoring such as the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor can help to make decisions for the hierarchy of controls. 

In this e-book we explain how the arrival of affordable, real-time monitoring, and both wearable and portable dust monitoring technologies promote this new awareness of the dangers of dust in a far broader range of working environments. 

Employers and the health and safety community are now shifting their attention. Where they’ve traditionally focused on safety, they now look at the major impacts on long-term health associated with working in hazardous environments. 

There’s also an increasing awareness of the range of industries that can present long-term health hazards through the inhalation of dangerous dust particles, from traditional industrial environments to commercial activities. 

The HSE are reporting an estimated 1.4 million people in the UK report ‘lung or breathing problems that were caused or made worse by work’ – and whilst it’s great that people are starting to pay more attention to this issue, there’s plenty of room for improvement. 

Whilst financial costs of lung diseases effect both businesses and individuals, respiratory diseases are more than just an economic drain. It’s a personal tragedy, and there are a whole raft of occupations and jobs where people are exposed to dangerous dust across the world. 

However, through the hierarchy of controls, businesses can determine the most effective solutions in order to keep workers protected from dangerous dust exposure. 

Knowing that dangerous dust exists, knowing its effects are potentially lethal, and knowing that the damage it causes is preventable, only takes you so far. Knowing how to prevent that harm is what matters, and this is how the hierarchy of controls can help businesses become more efficient, by understanding how effective each method is in benefitting the workforce. 

Fortunately, new accurate, real-time, fixed, wearable and portable dust and silica monitoring sensors are leading the detection charge across every use case. By precisely reading the real-time dust load in any given environment, and the enemy now ‘visible’, businesses can begin to apply the hierarchy of controls in a far more meaningful way. 

CAN DUST MONITORING TECHNOLOGY KEEP UP WITH NEW LEGISLATION?

As improved legislation is rolled out, will the dust and particulate detection technology be good enough to meet it?

Congratulations to the New South Wales Government for the foresight and resolution in driving through new legislation to protect workers from the hazards of silica, coal dust, and diesel particulates.

Speaking to Australian Mining, the state’s Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for resources John Barilaro said, “The decision to fast-track these more stringent standards for coal dust exposure was an easy one and is a great example of mine workers, mine operators and government working together to ensure we have robust frameworks in place to address this insidious disease.”

The legislation, which took effect from July 1st 2021, is hugely ambitious too. The legal exposure limit to respirable coal dust was reduced from 2.5 to 1.5 mg/m³ and respirable crystalline silica from 0.1 to 0.05 mg/m³. A new diesel exposure standard of 0.1  mg/m³ commenced 1 February 2021.

NSW leading the way

Compare the New South Wales Government’s to recent legislation in other parts of the world, and you can see how progressive the New South Wales Government has been. For example, in the United States where OSHA reduced the respirable crystalline silica permissible exposure limit (PEL) affecting the construction, manufacturing, and fracking industries from an allowable average of 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an eight-hour shift to 50 micrograms per cubic meter.

In the UK, respirable crystalline silica (RCS) control measures need only be effective in keeping exposure below the Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) at the old NSW level of 0.1 mg/m³ respirable dust, averaged over eight hours.

With efforts underway to determine whether these levels might be made even more stringent, the good work is clearly an ongoing priority.

As The New South Wales Resources Regulator says in its compliance priority January-June 2021 report. ‘With the implementation of the revised exposure standards for silica and respirable dust, and a new exposure standard for diesel exhaust emissions, airborne contaminants was a priority project between July and December in 2020 and will continue to be a focus area.’

Legislation needs to be adhered to

But it’s one thing to bring new, more stringent particulate exposure regulations onto the statute book. It’s another matter altogether making sure they are adhered to.

For a start, guidance needs to be shared with business owners and operators to help them properly implement effective health control plans in the context of the new regulations.

And what about the technical implications? With legal limits (quite rightly) ever shrinking, how can businesses be absolutely confident that the technology they use onsite to measure exposure to harmful dust and particulates is accurate, realistically deployable and affordable?

With much of the legacy technology on the market anything but accurate, realistically deployable and affordable, clearly the challenge for technology companies is to step up and find new ways for industry to meet these new standards.

At Trolex we’ve been working tirelessly on meeting these challenges for years.

And now we have.

It’s called the Trolex real-time dust monitoring range of fixed and wearable dust monitors.

You might also call it an overnight 40-year success story, as we’ve turned our vast experience in environmental monitoring in mining and tunnelling, to designing, manufacturing and distributing world leading dust and particulate monitoring technology.

The Trolex real-time dust monitors

The Trolex AIR XD Dust Monitor and XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor are both designed to detect even the finest of particulates.

Fixed and wearable, real-time analysis of your working environment from the Trolex dust monitoring range giving you a crystal clear understanding of the real particulate threat you face.

Simple to deploy, easy to maintain and super accurate they deliver a practical and affordable way of protecting your workers AND remaining within the law.

Now, whatever the new legislation and however strictly it’s applied, you can be absolutely sure that you have the technology in place to meet all legal and regulatory responsibilities as well as lead a healthy, happy, motivated workforce.

Don’t take chances. Contact us now to find out more about how our AIR XD and XD ONE real-time dust monitoring products – accurate, simple to use, easy to maintain, real-time particulate detection technology can protect your workers in your hazardous environments.

We can no longer be ignorant about killer dust

Did you hear about the plane crash that killed everyone on board? Your answer likely depends on where you live.

According to researchers at the University of Oxford: ‘English Wikipedia readers were much more likely to read about North American and European crashes, and Spanish Wikipedia readers were more likely to read about Latin American crashes.

Page views on English and Spanish Wikipedia for North American and Latin American aircraft crashes, respectively, were each about 50 times greater than for African crashes.’

These events are tragic, to be sure, but the deaths from these situations are more generally heard about than others, such as from dust inhalation – despite technology and processes available to help prevent them.

The decay of novelty

It also depends on when the crash happened, with Royal Society Open Science discovering that irrespective of the crash location and body count, ‘on both English and Spanish Wikipedia, page views dropped in half between three to 10 days after the event’. The decay of novelty as we lose interest in things when they stop being new.

The ‘finite pool of worry’

And then there’s how much capacity you have left to care, the concept scholars refer to as the ‘finite pool of worry’.

‘Because people have a limited capacity for how many issues they can worry about at once, as worry increases about one type of risk, concern about other risks may lessen.’ says The Centre for Research on Environmental Decisions.

Proximity. Timing. The competition with other concerns for a limited capacity to impact emotions. It’s a complicated old business. Disaster, its impact, its legacy and even the ways we look at – or away – from it. That’s only talking about sudden disastrous events; the plane crash, typhoon, earthquake, and other similar events.

The slow-motion disaster

What about the disaster that inexorably unfolds? The slow-motion cumulative disaster. Disaster that – over time – takes far more lives than the one off tragedies? Or even a succession of one-off tragedies?

What about:

  • The 8.9 million people killed by air pollution a year?
  • The 1 million work-related fatalities annually?
  • The hundreds of thousands around the world dying every year from workplace dust inhalation?
  • The millions whose lives are irreparably damaged every year from inhaling dust in the workplace?

As we’ve seen, it’s human nature to focus on more recent, local, high-profile events. Discreet, distinct, storylines.

However, don’t the disasters we overlook – the slower moving, less attention-grabbing tragedies that play out day after day – deserve our attention too?

The threat from dust inhalation

The problem of particulate and dust inhalation is widely ignored, so too is the priority in finding viable solutions.

This is why we do what we do at Trolex, and why we’ve set ourselves the challenge of reducing the risk and impact dust inhalation can have on workers around the world who are rarely spoken about.

This is done through the development of technology like the AIR XD Dust Monitor, XD ONE Portable Dust MonitorXD1+ Personal Dust Monitor and AIR XS Silica Monitor alongside supporting software, to deliver data in realtime and make sure every worker knows the state of air around them.

We haven’t stopped there, however. Our engineers are constantly asking “what can we do so that, in 10 years time, every worker in the world exposed to dangerous particulates is wearing personal dust monitoring?”

This is easier said than done, of course, but it’s a challenge we’re committed to undertaking and beating. As well as setting ourselves the task of overcoming the engineering challenge, we’re having to face those natural ‘hidden in plain sight’ biases discussed above.

We’ve privately funded each project every step of the way – from research and development, to manufacturing and distribution. Every penny.

Independently developed dust monitoring technology

Not that we mind. In fact, we’re proud to have independently conceived and created our range of real-time dust monitoring products: innovative dust monitoring technology that’s now the envy of the industry.

These products are perfectly capable of helping us meet our 10-year challenge, and in the process save many thousands of lives.

Set against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the billions and billions of pounds spent to combat it, the macabre irony hasn’t been lost on us, that worldwide more people have died inhaling dangerous particulates in the last five years than they have from Covid 19.

Unnecessary deaths that for only a couple of million pounds backing, our technology could still go faster and further in preventing.

Maybe we should call for a lockdown?

Learn more about dust monitoring systems and technology

We work with businesses around the world to improve the safety of hazardous work environments and give workers a better chance at reducing the risks of dust inhalation. The long term effects can be severe and, while it might not be as obvious or attention grabbing as other tragedies, we’re committed to doing what we can to help those at risk.

If you’d like to know more about our dust monitoring systems and how they can help your worksite, get in touch with our team of experts today.

The invisible killer: An 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 £3.8 billion 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. 

Enquire today about our new AIR XD Dust Monitor and XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor in our real-time dust monitoring range – accurate, simple to use, easy to maintain, real-time particulate detection technology that keeps people safe. 

Why RPE is the ultimate safety technology

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 personal protective equipment (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 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 dust 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 dust 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 technology

Real-time dust 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 today to find out more about how our new AIR XD Dust Monitor, XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor, XD1+ Personal Dust Monitor and AIR XS Silica Monitor  – accurate, simple to use, easy to maintain, real-time particulate detection technology – helps your teams use their RPE more effectively.

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 inhalation, these protections become more effective as they are applied more extensively across different scenarios and environments.

However, dust monitors 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.

Dust 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, real-time dust monitoring technology, such as the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor, 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 40 μm. 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 a real-time personal dust monitor 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 dust particles in the space directly around their airways.

The XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor 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. 

Get in touch today for more details on how the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor can help you align with ISO Standard 23875 as well as protect workers across your whole site from the danger of microscopic airborne dust.

‘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 Portable Dust Monitor.

Get in touch today and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how real-time dust and silica monitoring technology can protect your workers from the threat of preventable disease.