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. 

 

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.

XD ONE vs other dust monitors on the market

An independent UK agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in Great Britain, carried out a series of tests on three XD One Portable Dust Monitor units. 

They compared them to the following dust monitors: Casella CEL-712 Microdust Pro, a Thermo Scientific MIE Personal DataRam (pDR) 1500, a TSI SidePak AM510. 

The key elements of the testing were as follows: 

  • Tests were carried out in a calm air chamber. 
  • The tests used Arizona road dust, the industry standard for accuracy measurements and calibration. 
  • Fixed Concentration tests were performed at 2 mg/m³, 5 mg/m³ and 11 mg/m³. 
  • Stepped Concentration tests were performed moving from 2 mg/m³ to 5 mg/m³ and finally to 11 mg/m³. 
  • Simultaneous readings were taken using laboratory grade gravimetric sampling (TIOM and GK 2.69) to provide baseline accurate data from which to compare the portable units.

The results from the independent testing demonstrated that the XD ONE performs better than other personal dust monitors on the market. There were five critical messages from the testing as outlined below: 

  • The XD ONE performs as well as or better than the rival products in accurately monitoring for respirable dust. 
  • The tests found that the XD ONE unit’s performance was consistent between the XD ONE units, demonstrating that the good performance was consistent and repeatable. 
  • The XD ONE was consistent with laboratory grade gravimetric sampling units (the current industry standard, and often regulated methodology) at the tested dust levels. 
  • The XD ONE also performed as well or better than competitor products in ‘stepped-tests’ where the dust concentration was changed over time. 
  • The XD ONE is smaller, lighter, less fiddly and a single self-contained unit.