A collaborative approach to protect tunnelling workers.

With over 45 years of experience in the field of tunnelling, our partners, Timeco, are experts when it comes to tunnel boring machine (TBM), piling and foundation works, and other important activities involved in tunnelling. And when it comes to environmental monitoring for harsh tunnelling conditions, their partnership with Trolex has provided solutions to the entire tunnelling industry.

“We are satisfied with the 20+ years of cooperation with Trolex, as our official partner, because of the mutual trust in the innovative organisation and the reliability, user friendly

and durability of its products and solutions.” said Timeco, about the collaboration with Trolex to provide solutions to hazardous conditions in the tunnelling industry.

Trolex’s product range, provided to the tunnelling market in Europe by Timeco, includes a full range of dust monitoring technology, including AIR XD Dust Monitor and AIR XS Silica Monitor, as well as gas detection equipment, such as TX9165 Sentro 8 and TX6351-2 Sentro 1, detecting for a full range of hazardous gases.

Connected partner solutions to elevate your personal,
real-time dust monitoring

The connected XD1+ Personal Dust Monitor and Reactec cloud-based analytics platform has arrived. The Reactec Analytics platform brings exposure data from the XD1+ to life by delivering real-time updates from individual workers and tracking respirable data to determine where the highest concentration of harmful dust exists in your workplace.

With no filters, pumps, tubes, or replaceable parts, the XD1+ Personal Dust Monitor is one of the most compact, lightweight, and easy-to-use real-time personal dust monitors on the market. For such an accurate and reliable unit, it is also essential to be able to access and easily understand the data which the XD1+ is picking up, minute by minute.

Reactec’s cloud-based analytics platform brings XD1+ exposure data to life by delivering real-time updates from individual workers to remote supervisors, whilst tracking respirable data, to determine where the highest concentration of dust exists in your workplace.

With the support of Reactec’s ecosystem, the XD1+ is transformed into a connected, personalised dust monitoring device that shares invaluable data insight to key stakeholders and figureheads. The XD1+ is integrated into the Reactec ecosystem using the Reactec RASOR device as an IoT Gateway to Reactec’s powerful Analytics software.

By simply connecting your XD1+ unit to the Reactec Analytics platform you are able to:

  • Remove guesswork with accurate and real-time dust monitoring.
  • Personalise dust monitoring against specific workers with the Reactec RASOR device.
  • Identify the source and location of exposure and prioritise high risk areas.
  • GDPR compliant management of personal risk data.
  • Review tailored risk reports, add interventions and assess control measures.
  • Manage multiple health risks (dust, noise, vibration, proximity hazards) on a single platform.

 

If you want to find out more about how XD1+ can help keep your workers safe from harmful dust in the workplace, get in touch today to speak to one of our experts.

 

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Revolutionary smart devices to future-proof health and safety

Protecting the health and safety of the people who work for you is the ethical thing to do. It also makes good business sense as your people are your greatest asset. 

But even if you aren’t driven by a moral or financial imperative, governments around the world are toughening up on the legislation that protects workers, so it’s not something any business can afford to ignore. 

While some threats are obvious, others are invisible and incredibly hard to accurately detect, such as the deadly silica dust that are the by-product of many industries and manufacturing processes.  

Silica dust is linked with severe health problems. It has been dubbed the ‘new asbestos’ and has already been the subject of litigation. Yet it’s something that has historically been impossible to monitor in real time. 

Our Construction Industry Health and Safety Survey Winter 2021 shows that employers are concerned about safety, with nine out of 10 respondents recognising that worker safety is important or very important. 

But it also revealed that on the ground it can be hard to meet the health and safety challenge, particularly when it comes to dust monitoring, which for a fifth of respondents accounted for half of their safety budget. 

This in-depth report looks at how real-time, wearable dust monitoring technology can help to solve the issues from the findings of the Construction Industry Health and Safety Survey Winter 2021. 

The findings ultimately mean that it’s clear we need a new approach to dust monitoring. One that looks to the future and is inspired by the intelligent tech revolutionising every other aspect of our lives.  

It’s time to act now to tackle danger of hazardous dusts, like silica dust, by investing in smarter solutions to protect the air we breathe, with real-time dust monitoring. 

Helping Thermatic Homes meet the challenges of dust monitoring in domestic environments

Based in Salford, M&E contractor Thermatic Homes has more than 70 electricians out in the field rewiring properties for social housing providers including The Wates Group, Unitas, Brunswick Regeneration and Bolton at Home. As an ex-electrician himself, Thermatic MD Karl Wallace is aware of the dust challenges their work creates. 

“There are a lot of issues created by dust,” he says. “Chasing through to the brickwork and masonry is extremely intrusive and there’s a huge amount of dust created. We’re conscious that it’s potentially a dangerous environment if not controlled properly.” 

Which is why Thermatic electricians always use dust extraction on their CHASE machines. Why they always wear dust masks, always screen doors and why they always hoover, clean, and spray the air with water. 

Unlike a traditional building site, it’s not possible to saturate the air in people’s homes with water.   

“It’s never ideal, says Karl, “and being an exelectrician myself, who’s rewired many a house, you always want to do more. Year on year as more information comes out about the harmful effects of dust, we’re increasingly aware of the dangers and want to do everything we can to prevent them.” 

A new, better way of protecting staff and customers

Which is why, when Karl was introduced to the XD One by Trolex MD Steve Holland, he was so keen to get it out on site to trial for dust detection. “What a wonderful idea!” says Karl. “It looks perfect.” 

After all, what better way to instantly identify the dust threat than with accurate, real-time dust monitoring and readings? Even better that they’re available on wearable devices his team can just clip on as they work.  

A real-time reading of the room designed not just to protect Thermatic workers but also to gain a clear understanding on dust levels that might impact on customers, too. 

A clear message to the industry

As important as the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor is in protecting workers and tenants, using it also sends a very clear message to the industry, not just from Thermatic, but also from the main contractors Thermatic work for. 

Very much a “we go above and beyond” message, any main contractor can be rightly proud to do their bit in helping to prevent the 12,000 deaths a year from workplace respiratory disease by using Thermatic and Trolex XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor.  

It’s a pioneering approach in the construction industry that really prioritises health and safety and makes clear the commitment to worker and customer safety. 

 

Thermatic and main contractor feedback

With the XD ONE now onsite as part of a pilot phase to monitor rewiring and upgrade projects, we’ll be reporting back very soon. 

Says Karl, “I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of data the XD ONE gives us, the degree of harm it detects and what we can do about it.” 

In the meantime if you want any more information on how the XD ONE can keep your workers and customers safe from the dangers of avoidable dust and particulate inhalation get in touch today. 

 

How does the ‘Psychological Contract’ relate to dust monitoring?

Have you heard of the ‘psychological contract’? It’s the unwritten understanding of the interaction between you, your workplace environment and your colleagues.  

We all have a psychological contract with our employers, whether we know it or not.

As well as considering the physical aspects of your work environment, your psychological contract includes things like the quality of relationships you have with the people you work with, whether you feel properly listened to and understood and know what’s expected of you in your role. 

An important part of that contract is ‘psychological safety’. How safe or unsafe your psychological contract leaves you feeling at work.  

‘Psychological Safety’

A term coined in 1999 by organisational behavioural scientist, Amy Edmondson, ‘psychological safety’ includes things like trust in your colleagues, your perception of physical threat in your working environment and how you feel about the training and support you get to do your job.  

Unsurprisingly, the safer people feel at work, both physically and emotionally, the more productive they are.  

By the same token, if people feel unsafe, then not only are they less productive, but the time the trouble and expense of having to replace people unhappy in their jobs is huge.  

Employee benefits provider Perkbox estimates that ‘disengaged employees are costing the UK economy £340 billion every year in lost training and recruitment costs, sick days, productivity, creativity and innovation.’ 

So how can you make sure that people in your organisation feel psychologically safe?  

Physical Safety First

The first important step in creating a psychologically safe workplace is to make it as physically safe as possible.  

Speaking with Trolex, Occupational Psychologist Catherine Dobson told us, “If an environment is not physically safe, if it’s too hot, too cold, or if it feels too dangerous people feel stressed. We must ask ourselves how do we get the right environment for people with the right kind of training, the right kind of cooperation to make it healthier? 

Which is what contributes to making our range of dust monitors, such an important development. These include the AIR XD Dust Monitor, the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor – our wearable dust monitoring technology, and our AIR XS Silica Monitor for real-time silica dust monitoring. 

Not simply because it protects workers from the physical dangers of inhaling lethal respirable dusts, but because armed with the knowledge that they are working safely, people feel psychologically safer too.  

Catherine explains how: “In relation to silica and dust monitoring. Because the AIR XS Silica Monitor is new, there’s scope for demonstrating that it works. And people can see that.  

Also, because all these dust monitors work in real time, it gives people the trust that an intervention will take place should they be in danger. They can trust in the environment being safe.” 

A very good thing for workers on both a physical and emotional level.  

And great news, too, for the mining, tunnelling, quarrying, manufacturing and construction companies invested in fulfilling their side of the psychological contract with advanced dust monitoring. 

Businesses can then reap the rewards of improved production and better worker retention, so everybody wins. 

 

Silica monitoring technology:
Not what it
used to be?

Silica dust is a problem. A serious problem. In particular, respirable crystalline silica (RCS) – the minute respirable silica dust 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 through 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 dust 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 real-time 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, we’re 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.

Get in touch with one of our experts today to discuss how the AIR XS Silica Monitor can improve your safety processes.

Real-time dust monitoring technology for the real world

It’s the twenty-first century, and we are in “the age of data”. Everything is data-driven from what we do and use. Even the devices we carry around with us all day, like our mobile phones, and most recently, even smart watches are mainly data tracking devices.

And whilst many are sceptical of how the data is used, realistically everyone is positively affected by modern data collection. Even if we don’t realise it, data today is allowing us to make educated changes to our lifestyle, finances, social lives and health. 

It seems odd that a widely available resource such as data is taken for granted everyday, and isn’t used effectively to do the really important things more regularly – especially when it comes to saving lives and preventing life threatening illnesses.  

Sadly, the global annual number of people dying from occupational respiratory illnesses is estimated at over 500,000. The critical question remains: are we using the data at our disposal to positively impact workplace health and safety? Probably not…  

Firstly, we need to understand that data is critical, and a lack of its use is a problem. Real-time dust monitoring has long since been an expensive, complicated “black art” unavailable to the masses. Whilst monitoring isn’t a solution in itself, it’s pivotal to making the right decisions to ultimately save lives and understand where the risk really lies. 

Gravimetric or “dust deposit” gauges have long been an industry standard, and a legislative medium for measuring harmful dust exposure; but they only give ‘one side of the story’ and even then a partial story at best. When it comes to saving lives, time is of the essence. Even more so early detection and real-time alarming typically results in prompt action. 

This gravimetric data is not to be dismissed and is important, but let’s face it with global numbers of over 500,000 people still dying every year, it’s not enough. So how do we critically challenge the status quo?

Recognising the problem

Now imagine taking this combined average data over a time frame, and combining it with accurate, real-time, personal dust monitoring. Imagine the changes you could make to process, controls, procedures and culture by seeing when and how the exposure is caused, where it was unacceptably high and, maybe, even warning people in real-time who unknowingly enter into the dangerous zone of this invisible killer. 

If a smoke alarm goes off, you leave the building regardless of whether you see the fire. Why shouldn’t we apply the same theory, conscious response and swift action to slow and painful killers such as respirable dust? 

Exposure is commonly expected in mining or engineered stone industries, however many more are unsuspectingly exposed in construction, demolition, quarrying, manufacturing, and more generally those in support functions in nearby offices and facilities within these industries and even people regularly using non-dust controlled roads. 

The sad thing is, if the danger isn’t obvious (and dangerous levels of dust often aren’t as the most dangerous particles are usually the invisible ones), it’s too easy to ignore until the damage is done. 

This is where we can all truly make a difference…

With real-time data, it’s easy to make decisions on measures that need to be taken to understand personal exposure levels and even have real time exposure warnings. Trolex is giving the power back to the people, companies and regulators to make informed decisions about protecting themselves and each other in the interest of saving lives. 

If this drives changes in monitoring requirements, engineering controls such as dust suppression or RPE regulations can only benefit people and the families of those people who are currently exposed, all whilst minimising the risk of future exposure, and building precedence for the application of effective dust control measures in the hierarchy of control. 

Here’s another thing: as a business or a responsible person, real-time monitoring and control is not only affordable and simple, but also accessible to everyone.

So, the question is, can you afford to not understand the problem?

Our aim is to give people the information, to save lives and increase awareness, and if you want to know more about our real-time fixed, portable or personal dust monitors (AIR XD Dust Monitor, XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor or XD1+ Personal Dust Monitor) then get in touch today.

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. 

Working with distributors and partners overseas is how we 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 Portable Dust Monitor and can try it out for themselves in a real-life environment.

Our Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg (BeNeLux) distributor, BASystemen, ordered six XD ONE demo units 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 Portable Dust Monitor  is a nice solution to the market needs for a portable dust monitor, which is simple to use, reliable and cost effective’. He adds, “…size 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 “definitely learn from this.”

If you’re a distributor and would like to request demo units of the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor, please get in touch today.