The battle against silicosis: This is personal

By Glyn Pierce-Jones – CEO of Trolex.

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What might seem like a nine-year journey to develop the Trolex Air XS Silica Monitor actually goes back 150 years. Our new silica detection technology has surprising origins… 

It starts at a time when miners had next to no protection, especially from silica dust, and to a place that ‘roofed the world.’ Snowdonia’s beautiful, bleak, Blaenau Ffestiniog.

UNESCO Heritage status

Recently awarded UNESCO heritage status, it was here that my grandfathers, great grandfathers, uncles, and cousins all worked, mining slate. 

Arawn and Ieuan. Dai and Dewi. Merfyn and Maldwyn.

And it’s here that many of them died, often as young as in their 40s, from silicosis.

No health and safety. No silica detection and prevention. No chance.

Personal and poignant

It makes the work we do at Trolex all the more personal and all the more poignant.

And it’s a major part of the reason we’ve worked so hard to solve the age-old problem of silica detection. 

So that modern-day miners and quarry workers – in fact, anyone who might come into contact with silica in their working lives – from construction workers to plasterers, factory workers and stonemasons – will never have to suffer the same fate as my forefathers.

New hope

And all it took was vision and ingenuity, optimism and grit, and endless trips to the bank manager. And despite being told we’d never do it – we’ve done it.

New technology that offers new hope to people who previously had no hope of avoiding an unnecessary, painful and premature end to their lives.

It’s called the Trolex Air XS Silica Monitor

And it’s astonishing.

The world’s first silica detection technology saving lives all over the world – made of legends.

As they used to say in the back bar at the Miners Inn in Blaenau…

Dyma i chi fechgyn!*

Drop me a line and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Air XS Silica Monitor and the many ways it can benefit your staff and your business.

*Here’s to you, boys!







    Staggering Lung Disease Statistics Prompt £5,000,000 Investment

    New studies from charity ‘Asthma and Lung UK’ (ALUK) found that lung disease deaths in the UK are the highest in Western Europe.

    The staggering statistics have prompted an expanded approach towards research and development of lung diseases from ALUK.

     

    Serious Statistics

    ALUK’s studies show that cases of lung disease related deaths in the UK have been rising in the past 20 years.

    It is reported that 500,000 people in the UK died from deaths relating to lung diseases over a seven-year period.

    In 2018 alone, 84,721 respiratory deaths were recorded in the UK.

    The charity has described the state of lung health in the UK as ‘shameful’, stating the need for improved research and development solutions to the problem.

    More than just numbers

    After it’s relaunch in February, ALUK established a new 5-year strategy upon the results of the study.

    Lung diseases are currently the third most common cause of death in the UK and it’s currently costing the NHS £9 billion every year.

    Despite this, lung related health care is receiving less than 2% of public funding.

    Dispelling the misconceptions

    The seriousness of lung problems in relation to other diseases is not taken as seriously.

    A predominant factor in the poor state of the nation’s lung health is that people believe lung conditions aren’t life-threatening. This is a major misconception.

    Through spreading awareness of how ‘shameful’ lung health is in the UK, this misconception can be dispelled.

    ALUK aim to reduce lung disease deaths by 20% by 2027. When making everyone aware of these staggering statistics, this can become a possibility.

    The end goal is to provide support for everyone effected by all forms of lung disease.

    Research and innovation as a solution

    ALUK’s solution to achieving this goal is through research and innovation.

    Their aim is to expand their research and innovation programme so that £5 million is being invested into relevant research each year.

    With the aim to develop at least three new self-management tools” for 2 million people suffering with lung diseases, ALUK want to make training programmes and essential advice easily accessible to those who need it.

    “By 2027, we will give 80% of people with lung conditions the opportunity to access our network of Breathe Easy support groups” states the ALUK Strategy to 2027.

    With this, the strain on public healthcare is minimised and individuals are able to monitor their personal health through digitalised platforms and shared networks.

    Looking to the future…

    The statistics right now make for harrowing reading and harsh truths.

    However, for ALUK, research and innovation is the solution for the future. By identifying the problem and acknowledging its severity and scale, goals can be achieved.

    Through effective research and innovation lung disease deaths can become a thing of the past, not just in the UK, but worldwide.

    Staggering Lung Disease Statistics Prompt £5,000,000 Investment

    New studies from charity ‘Asthma and Lung UK’ (ALUK) found that lung disease deaths in the UK are the highest in Western Europe.

    The staggering statistics have prompted an expanded approach towards research and development of lung diseases from ALUK.

     

    Inclusion culture

    Unfortunately, the Trolex model of an inclusion culture, isn’t practiced in every other ‘traditionally male’ company, which is why IWD and WICW campaigns globally to bring awareness to all women who are doing a great job, despite what that industry may be.

    No one can deny that stereotypes are still affecting society in the UK and in other western countries.

    A survey by CPB London ahead of IWD in 2022, found that,

    “39% of the 5- to 11-year-olds polled think that women should stay home and 38% agreed that men should go to work”.

    Breaking the bias

    The CPB began their “Imagine” nationwide campaign on IWD and this year’s theme is #BreakTheBias.

    This campaign has gained global appeal and invites people to imagine a person in a certain role, for example, ‘a doctor’ ‘a nurse’ ‘a plumber’ or ‘a CEO’, and then invites you to ask, is this a man or a woman?

    It creates a powerful message, especially when, in the CPB survey of 1000 children;

    60% thought that being a plumber or an electrician was a man’s job and almost half (46%) said that men always make better engineers.”

    A sobering thought that children still have this impression of certain roles in 2022.

    Research and innovation as a solution

    ALUK’s solution to achieving this goal is through research and innovation.

    Their aim is to expand their research and innovation programme so that £5 million is being invested into relevant research each year.

    With the aim to develop at least three new self-management tools” for 2 million people suffering with lung diseases, ALUK want to make training programmes and essential advice easily accessible to those who need it.

    “By 2027, we will give 80% of people with lung conditions the opportunity to access our network of Breathe Easy support groups” states the ALUK Strategy to 2027.

    With this, the strain on public healthcare is minimised and individuals are able to monitor their personal health through digitalised platforms and shared networks.

    A common goal for the construction industry

    Trolex are excited to be partnered with Active Environmental Solutions (AES), working together to protect workers from the dangerous and often irreversible consequences of dust inhalation.

    With AES’ specialist knowledge of occupational health and safety in Australian industries and Trolex’s leading safety technology, the opportunity of delivering solutions to prevent the dangers of dust inhalation for Australian workers, is not just a possibility, but now a reality.

    Offering the market new solutions

    AES want to spread awareness. And in the case of dust particulate detection, spreading awareness that new real-time technology to help prevent lethal respiratory diseases now exists.

    The opportunity to partner with Trolex was welcomed by AES, as it means that they can merge their expertise in Occupational Health with Trolex’s leading safety technology.

    This creates the best solutions to their respective industries.

    This simple message appealed to AES, and to Aleks Todorovic MSc, (OHP), Managing Director of AES’s team of Australian Occupational Safety experts at AES, as it aligned perfectly with the workers they seek to protect:

    Many businesses intuitively know the benefit of a broad threat detection – they just don’t know they know it, or perhaps how they go about implementing such devices – it’s our job to awaken that knowledge and show them there are new and effective dust detection technologies such as the Trolex Air XD and XD One.

    Important facts for important industries

    There are no arm twisting, or heavy sales techniques involved – just a clear and simple presentation of responding to the facts.

    Which is why Trolex and AES are working hard to provide further education to Australia’s mining, tunnelling, quarrying and construction industry, where workers are exposed to dangerous dust particulates.

    This common goal of providing specialist and expert knowledge of these industries is the drive needed to inevitably save lives and taking the dangers of dust seriously.

    Now, this collaboration will help to do exactly that.

    A needed change of approach

    The approach taken by businesses within these industries must now change. With new legislation on exposure to harmful particulates in Australia, new dust monitoring methods are needing to be implemented.

    Aleks said “As an occupational hygiene minded business we know only too well the devastating effects inhaling respirable dust can have on people’s long-term health.

    That’s why we are invested in the success and distribution of new and effective real-time dust detection technologies such as the Trolex Air XD and XD One. These are lifesaving technologies that need to be included in their safety thinking” stated Aleks further.

    By using Trolex’s advanced dust monitoring technology, small changes can have a huge impact.

    Looking towards the future

    The war on silica grows ever stronger by the day and more needs to be done.

    With the reduction in exposure limits coming into effect across Australia, particularly hard on respirable crystalline silica, real-time monitoring for RCS is a necessity, providing an instant alarm if you have an issue.

    Whilst the ability to retrospectively assess RCS levels in facilities is available to industries with an RCS problem, the ability to monitor for RCS in real-time is not.

    Trolex’s all new real-time silica monitor, the Air XS, allows for accurate and reliable results demonstrating compliance with legislation. Aleks commented on this world-first technology:

    We are really excited to be a part of this project to be able to detect silica in real-time. This will be the first monitor to have this capability and we’re proud to be distributing it throughout Australia. The project was produced with the support of the Centre for WHS in NSW proving just how important and potentially life-saving the new technology will be.”

    And with the talk of real-time, wearable silica monitoring devices a possibility in the future, of course it makes perfect sense for all industries to be increasingly focused on detection possibilities.

    Together, Trolex and AES are providing real solutions for real problems in Australia.

    The future of silica monitoring: Not what it used to be?

    Silica is a problem. A serious problem. In particular, RCS (respirable crystalline silica) – the minute particles released when working with concrete, bricks, mortar, ceramics, MDF, plywood, stone, ceramics and other similar materials.

    Invisible to the naked eye and 100-times smaller than sand, RCS is fine enough to reach deep inside the lungs. Once there, it causes long term and often fatal damage though Silicosis, heart failure, arthritis, kidney disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and even lung cancer.

    In the UK, the IOSH reports that half a million workers are exposed to RCS. It contributes to 12,000 lung disease deaths a year – mostly among workers employed in construction or the manufacturing of products for construction.

    And RCS isn’t a secret. It’s an acknowledged threat. The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) recognises it as ‘the biggest risk to construction workers after asbestos’ and The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Respiratory Health have released a damning report Silica – the next asbestos’.

    The main challenge in combating its dangers is the inherent nature of silica itself. The fact that it’s so small, and that as minute shards of irregularly shaped quartz, it’s so hard to detect. The small scale of the particles has made RCS monitoring incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and expensive – which makes the scale of the problem even larger.

    Silica Monitoring is a Big Problem

    Typically, exposure monitoring for RCS has involved occupational hygienists setting up fixed location or wearable instrumentation, including a pump connected to a sampling head that collects samples on a filter. These samples are then sent off to a lab for analysis.

    This exposure reporting is then used to determine whether control measures are effective or not and whether an area is safe to work in.

    That’s clearly far from ideal.

    Analysis is retrospective, reporting on working environments long after workers may already have been exposed to potentially lethal amounts of RCS and is inherently inaccurate. Also, because analysis needs to be carried out by H&S professionals, costs can quickly rocket, with analysis often totalling thousands of pounds a month – and that’s just per survey!

    The Future of Silica Monitoring

    All of this makes the prospect of accurate, affordable, real-time RCS monitoring something of a “Holy Grail” when it comes to protecting workers from this deadly dust.

    A Holy Grail that, with strong rumours of a significant breakthrough in silica monitoring soon to hit the market, Trolex look set to revolutionise RCS detection and the health and safety industry. Eventually, protecting countless workers from unnecessary exposure to potentially lethal silica.

    Imagine that. No more clunky, costly, after-the-event analysis and guesswork. Just accurate, affordable, real-time silica monitoring – which will be available in just a few short months.

    Curious?

    As they say…watch this space.

    To make sure you’re kept up-to-date on all the latest RCS detection news and developments, you can register to become an Early Adopter for our Air XS Silica Monitor here.