Client: 

Pennine Aggregates 

Location:

Buxton, Derbyshire  

Industry:

Aggregate and mineral processing 

Services:  

Blending and mixing, bulk tanker loading, contract bagging, contract drying screening and sieving.

Pennine Aggregates are one of the largest specialist aggregate and mineral processors in the UK. Based in Buxton, Pennine Aggregates are a global supplier to a wide range of companies, including ABC Industries as well as Sherwin-Williams, Cemex and Hansons in the UK.  

A growing problem in this industry is the threat of occupational silicosis. 

Silicosis now causes a huge number of deaths across an increasing number of industries, from clothing manufacturing to construction; but the aggregates industry have one of the highest risk profiles for this fatal occupational lung disease. This meant that Pennine Aggregates grabbed the opportunity with both hands to trial the world’s first real-time respirable crystalline silica (RCS) monitor, the Air XS Silica Monitor, to see how they could integrate it into their existing dust suppression processes. 

Mark Dickinson, a director at Pennine Aggregates said: “It’s really important to us as a business that we are using every tool that’s available to keep our workers safe and we were really excited to have the chance to see what impact using the first real-time RCS monitor would have on our processes and on workforce morale.”  

In April 2022, we supplied them with an Air XS unit to test their processes across two main site locations over a six-week period. For Pennine Aggregates, it wasn’t that they didn’t have dust suppression in place, but more that they didn’t know exactly how much dangerous silica dust each of their processes were producing. 

Mike Thompson, QHSE Manager said: “We were asking ourselves right across the business – is our dust suppression actually getting the right amount dust out of the environment, as quite frankly, before we installed the Air XS on our site we just didn’t know.” 

Pennine Aggregates ran the Air XS Silica Monitor on their site over a six-week period on each of the processes where they had put in place new dust suppression systems. 








    Occupational silicosis in the stone industry

    The effects of silicosis in the stone industry is not an unknown issue.

    But to what extent are stone workers aware of this issue? Are the specific causes of silicosis in the stone industry common knowledge? 

    A scientific report from nature.com highlights the difference between engineered stone and natural stone, in relation to their silica content, shedding some light on where the cause of silicosis could lie in the stone industry. 

     

    Silica dust is causing life-changing problems for stone masons

    Silicosis is one of the most dangerous respirable lung diseases in the workplace, especially when exposure to harmful silica dust is a common occurrence, such as in the stone industry. 

    It is estimated that globally, 40 to 50 million workers are exposed to silica dust in the workplace. 

    The Natural Stone Institute guide to awareness and prevention of silicosis determines that exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS), specifically in the stone industry comes from cutting or grinding materials, most commonly which contain quartz, is composed of silica dust. 

    Engineered stone vs Natural stone

    The purpose of the study from nature.com was to see, in relation to RCS, what the most threatening scenario was for worker’s health, in real time, when working with different compositions of stone. 

    In the study, 12 engineered stones were assessed against three natural stones – white marble, white granites and black granites. By dry-cutting all stones, silica dust was captured in a closed environment and subjected to various assays to determine both chemical and physical properties. 

    The 12 engineered stones’ silica content varied from one another, and the total RCS content made up of quartz and cristobalite ranged from 70.4% to 90.9%. By comparison, the natural stone’s silica content ranged from 3.5% to 30.1%, marking a clear difference. 

    As well as this, the dry-cutting of engineered stone generated finer RCS particles with one engineered stone having an average size of as little as 190 nanometres, meaning it could reach deeper in the lungs, in turn causing more damage. Contrastingly, the smallest average particle size of the natural stone was black granite, with an average size of 503 nanometres. 

    The results of this study concluded that silica dust emissions from engineered stones had a much higher concentration of quartz and cristobalite, therefore having a higher silica content and subsequently more damaging impact on respiratory health. 

    Is there a solution to silicosis within the stone industry?

    Ultimately, the report concluded that the higher the silica content of the stone, as well as the smaller size of RCS particles, the more dangerous it is to respirable health. 

    The Natural Stone Institute conclude in their guide to occupational silicosis that there is no cure for silicosis; however, “with the proper equipment, training, vigilance and continual monitoring, you and your shop floor can be free of the dangers”.  

    Being aware that harmful silica dust is higher within engineered stone, compared to natural stone, and by monitoring for this, as well as using correct respirable protective equipment (RPE) when working with engineered stone, it allows for correct precautions to be taken to avoid silicosis.  

    Prevention is the best cure.

    We’ve developed the world’s first real-time silica monitor, the Air XS Silica Monitor, and, along with other health and safety controls, this is one of the tools that will help to prevent occupational silicosis for those exposed to harmful silica dust in the workplace. 

    If you would like to learn more about our Air XS Silica Monitor, and specifically how it can help your safety processes to keep your workers safe from fatal occupational lung diseases, then complete the get in touch form below to arrange a call with one of our experts today. 








      Air XS Silica Monitor recognised as ‘Highly Commended’ at the BSiF Awards 2022

      The world’s first real-time silica monitor, the Air XS Silica Monitor from Trolex, has been determined as ‘Highly Commended’ by the British Safety Industry Federation (BSiF) at their 2022 awards ceremony.

      With rising cases of occupational silicosis caused by the inhalation of silica dust, The Air XS Silica Monitor was recognised in the ‘Product Innovation’ category, for its improvement towards detecting respirable crystalline silica (RCS), as a truly innovative product.

      In esteemed company

      The BSiF Awards, in association with the Safety and Health Excellence Awards, took place on Wednesday 6 April 2022 at The Vox, NEC, Birmingham.

      Hosted by renowned actor and comedian Hugh Dennis, the awards recognised some of the most prestigious and respected companies within the health and safety industry across Britain.

      Three awards were presented by the BSiF to companies who are excelling in the health and safety industry; these awards were the Customer Services Awards, the Safety Solution Award and the Product Innovation Award, the latter of which the Air XS Silica Monitor had entered.

      A world-first innovative product

      The ‘Product Innovation’ category focuses on products that make a difference, and find new solutions to improving health and safety across a variety of industries and environments in Britain.

      Focusing on new and innovative technology used in developing these nominated products, this category was an opportunity for us to highlight the effect which real-time silica monitoring will have on improving health and safety in specific markets.

      Therefore, not only did being the world’s first real-time silica dust monitor on the market help us receive ‘Highly Commended’ recognition, but also the innovation and development of the product itself.

      Using optical refraction technology developed in-house by our engineering team and produced with the support of the Centre for Work Health and Safety, the Air XS Silica Monitor demonstrated the effort put in and the belief everyone connected to this product has on its potential.

      ‘Highly Commended’ recognition

      Our Managing Director, Steve Holland, claimed, “it was a privilege to stand up on behalf of Trolex at such an important event and this award is absolutely deserving to everyone here.” This award has highlighted the amount of work gone into this innovative product and the potential it has on the industry as a whole.

      “There is still lots of work ahead, but this undoubtedly begins a new era of growth, opportunity and excitement for the business” added Steve.

      The results of the BSiF Awards come at an exciting time, as Trolex were also announced as a finalist of the Better Society Awards for the Air XS Silica Monitor, in the ‘Tech for Good’ category, just weeks after winning the ‘Best Technology Award’ at The International Surface Event.

      The world’s first real-time RCS monitor

       The Air XS Silica Monitor has the potential to save millions of lives.

       To learn more about the world’s first real-time RCS monitor, book your demonstrations now or speak to one of experts today using the contact form below.








        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. 








          Silica isn’t the new asbestos

          It’s been said hundreds of times…

          Silica dust is the new asbestos.

          But what if it’s not? What if there’s really nothing new about silica dust in relation to asbestos?

          The link between the two is even closer than you may think…

          What is asbestos?

          Most people know asbestos as the dangerous insulator used in construction, responsible for over 5,000 related disease-deaths per year, typically lung cancer and asbestosis.

          However, in its natural form, asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral.

          Put simply, silicate minerals make up asbestos fibres.

          Asbestos is actually just one of the many different forms of silicate materials, in the same way that silica dust is.

          The similarities between silica dust and asbestos are much closer than people are aware of.

          SO WHAT?

          There is a different attitude towards asbestos compared to silica dust.

          The dangers of exposure to asbestos are well documented.

          Exposure to asbestos can cause serious lung conditions, including asbestosis and mesothelioma. It is the number 1 cause of recorded work-related deaths in the world.

          Most people in the UK are aware of its dangers, particularly as asbestos was banned in 1999 for construction work in the UK.

          Yet despite all of this, very few people are aware of how dangerous exposure to silica dust is, despite the fact that asbestos fibres are made up of silicate materials, in the same way silica is.

          There are many more dangers relating to silica dust than people may be aware of.

          Let’s put this into perspective

          Imagine you are working on refurbishing your bathroom and from the grinding of the ceramic sink and a load of dust becomes airborne.

          If you were told that this airborne dust which you were inevitably inhaling was asbestos, you’d probably run a mile, right?

          And who could blame you? A dust which is responsible for approximately 90,000 asbestos-related diseases per year. You’d want to get as far away from it as possible.

          Well, it’s likely that that dust in your bathroom would in fact be silica dust.

          A dust which made up of silicate materials in the same way asbestos fibres are. A respirable dust which is just as lethal, if not more lethal, in comparison to asbestos dust.

          But because it isn’t known to people as being the same as asbestos, the dangers seem to be less of a concern to people.

          The issue is much wider than this…

          It’s time to get real and become aware of just how dangerous silica dust is.

          It is reported that, in crystalline form, respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is responsible for the death of 600 people per year in Great Britain with 450 of those to workers in construction industry. What’s more, an estimated 50,000 workers are exposed to silica dust globally.

          The importance of the dangers of silica dust must be realised, especially with what is known about how dangerous asbestos is.

          Don’t let history repeat itself

          Asbestos is just as lethal as silica dust. The dangers are the same, yet we cannot afford for the results of exposure to silica dust to be the same as what occurred with asbestos.

          Silica could be as lethal as asbestos, if not more so, with equally serious consequences.

          Being aware of the issue is the start, action must be taken to protect workers from this dangerous dust.

          We cannot afford to let history repeat itself.

          Let’s get real on silica.








            Staggering lung disease statistics prompt urgent £5 million 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 on the rise for 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 its relaunch in February, ALUK established a new five-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

            It is evident that the seriousness of lung problems in relation to other diseases is not taken as seriously, despite what we are seeing from the data.

            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 gruesome 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.

            International Women’s Day: Not always a man’s job!

            International Women’s Day (IWD) was on 8th March 2022, which coincided with National Women in Construction Week (WICW) 7th-13th March.

            As a technology company that develops and manufactures engineered solutions for the construction, mining, and tunnelling industry. Trolex could be seen to be a ‘traditionally male’ company.

            However, whilst the of numbers of employees and the ratio of men to women stands currently at about 5:1, in terms of culture, Trolex prides itself on mutual respect and understanding for all our colleagues, regardless of our differences.

            We are the people of Trolex. Not the men, not the women, but the people.

            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.

            Still moving forward?

            The same survey found that most children agreed that you should grow up to be whatever you want to be (94%), while 82% believed that boys and girls can be just as good at the same things.

            It does seem to be going in the right direction, but society is clearly not there yet on the road to complete equality.

             

            Collaborative expertise towards a common goal in 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 occupational lung diseases caused by dust inhalation.

            With AES’s 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 innovative solutions

            AES want to spread awareness of the dangers of occupational lung diseases caused by dust inhalation. And in the case of dust monitoring, spreading awareness that new real-time dust monitoring technology to help prevent lethal occupational 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 using 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 Dust Monitor, the XD One Personal Dust Monitor and most recently, the Air XS Silica Monitor.  

            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 industries, where workers are exposed to dangerous forms of respirable dusts.

            This common goal of providing and expert knowledge and specialist equipment to these industries is the drive needed to inevitably reduce instances of occupational lung diseases to save lives.

            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 dust 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 dusts can have on people’s long-term health.

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

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

            Looking towards the future

            As the war on silica dust grows ever stronger by the day, more needs to be done.

            With the reduction in exposure limits coming into effect across Australia, particularly hard on respirable crystalline silica (RCS), real-time monitoring for silica dust is a necessity, retaining live data and providing an instant alarm the legislated threshold is breached.

            Whilst the ability to retrospectively assess levels of silica dust in facilities is available to industries where deadly silica dust is prevalent, the ability to monitor for silica dust 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 world’s 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 Work Health and Safety 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.

            If you’d like to speak to one of our experts about integrating real-time dust monitoring technology into your working environment, then you can use the contact form below to get in touch with one of our experts today.

            Bringing solutions to combat fraud within the construction industry

            Fraud within the construction industry is nothing new. In fact, it’s getting worse.

            After news emerged of two construction skills’ test administrators being jailed for fraud, the evidence suggests that it’s too easy to cut corners in construction health and safety.

            A growing problem for the construction industry

            In a 2019 report by Construction News, it was found that the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) were to review 2,500 safety tests after several arrests were made for fraudulent construction testing.

            Further reports in November 2020 stated that a ‘crackdown on fraud in construction testing’ would be taking place to prevent further crimes. It looked as though fraudulent activity within construction was being treated with the severity it deserved.

            However, recent news shows that cases of fraud are still occurring frequently. Most notably, in late-February of this year, two construction skills test administrators were jailed for 28 months after pleading guilty to falsifying CITB health and safety checks for personal profit.

            The pair from Knutsford, Cheshire, were said to be profiting around £37,700 by creating fake health and safety tests and supplying fake Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards to workers, almost three years after the CITB first announced their review.

            Adam Kingsgate, Assistant Director of Fraud Investigation Service for the HRMC, affirmed in 2020 that the “HMRC is committed to taking action on all those who steal from the public purse.

            This highlights that whilst action is being taken to reprimand fraud within the construction industry, the problem is not being stopped at its root, which, in turn, means there are potentially thousands of workers exposed to the risk of poor health and safety training.

            Is the problem being taken seriously?

            In the most recent case in Knutsford, it is estimated that 1,305 fake CSCS cards dating back to January 2020 had been revoked. That’s 1,305 incidents in which construction workers are exposed to a variety of health and safety risks they haven’t properly been prepared for.

            The requirements for an approved training organisation’s documentation from the CTID, which certifies the legitimacy for testing, was last revised in February 2020, meaning the application process hasn’t been tightened or changed since the HMRC’s promise in November 2020.

            This unfortunately shows that although there are some guidelines in place, which try to prevent fraud from occurring, priority for workers health and safety does not seem to be treated as important as they say it should be, in reality.

            If fraudsters are able to bypass the regulations currently in place, then it is likely that these events will continue.

            So, what can be done to stop this?

            Workplace health and safety that can’t be cheated…

            There’s a simple way to improve matters. Reliable and accurate health and safety testing that cannot be cheated.

            Although in this instance the issue lies within testing, it is evident the overall problem runs deeper throughout the whole construction industry, and this is a worry when people’s lives are potentially at stake.

            Making health and safety testing and equipment accurate, reliable, safe and trustworthy is difficult to achieve, especially when policies do not help to drive home this message.

            We have found this countless times in our research and development for particulate monitoring and silica dust in particular over the last eight years.

            Current particulate monitoring policies rely on collecting, for example, silica particulates on a filter, then transporting this to a lab to analyse. How do you know that all the silica dust collected stays on the filter for an accurate result? You don’t unfortunately.

            The standard guidelines state, ‘The best method of transportation is by using a reliable person who is aware of the need for care.’, yet this is something that can’t be measured.

            However, now, Trolex has the technology to provide on-site, digital, real-time silica dust monitoring with our new product, the Air XS Silica Monitor, taking numerous inaccuracies like this out of the equation providing health and safety provisions which cannot be cheated.

            Health and safety should never be about guesswork, or inaccurate methods of measurements, nor should it be put second best to profitability or personal gain.

            Trolex real-time particulate monitors

            It’s time to get real on using real-time dust monitoring to reduce occupational lung diseases with the Air XD Dust Monitor and the XD One Personal Dust Monitor, and launching next month, the Air XS Silica Monitor.








              What has real-time silica monitoring technology got to do with jeans?

              The short answer is a lot – but read on to find out why.

              We are talking here about the trendy, sometimes skinny, but definitely distressed, smooth and comfortable jeans that are likely to be worn by every third student in any college or university campus in the UK, Australia or the US today.

              The problem

              The process of sandblasting is a simple one, a compressor, a hose and basic sand is all that is needed to blast over the denim and create a smooth, distressed look. This can be performed manually, or mechanically, but is the same process in either application.

              The problem lies with the type of sand used.

              In regulated counties, the use of abrasives that contain more than 1% free silica has long since been banned, as whilst sandblasting clothes is a relatively new practice, sandblasting has been used commonly in the mining and building industries for several decades in western societies. Harmful silica dust with high levels of Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) – the dangerous particulates that cause Silicosis – was identified relatively early in these industries, and as such, the UK banned the use of silica sand being used in sandblasting back in 1950. The European Economic Community banned its use in 1966, the US in 1974, and Sweden later still in 1992.

              Unregulated countries such as Turkey, Syria, Bangladesh, Mexico, India and Indonesia were not subject to these restrictions, so clothing manufacturers moved to these and other countries in South East Asia and North Africa, in order to continue this, and other cheap, effective, but dangerous practices.

              Silvana Cappuccio, a health and safety expert at the International Textile Garment & Leather Workers’ Federation, states that production “tends to move to regions where labour is cheap and legislation is weaker.

               

              The scale of the problem

              A four-year medical follow up study on denim sandblasters across Turkey, Brazil, China and Japan from 2007 to 2011 made some bleak observations:

              • Denim sandblasters are at a high risk of silicosis.
              • Patients with silicosis because of denim sandblasting exhibit rapid disease progression,
                and many of the complications associated with silicosis, including death, appear to
                be unavoidable.
              • Among the 145 former sandblasters studied in 2007, 83 were re-assessed in 2011.
                In the four-year follow-up period, nine (6.2%) had died at a mean age of 24 years.
              • Of the 74 living sandblasters available for re-examination, the prevalence of silicosis
                increased from 55.4% to 95.9%, regardless of age, gender or whether they were smokers.
              • The affect was most prominent in workers that slept within the workplace.

              Perhaps the most shocking observation was the final conclusion to the study, which stated outright: “almost all former denim sandblasters may develop silicosis, despite short exposures and latency.”

              This study, labelled silicosis as ‘inevitable’ in former sandblasters, which really does expose the problem as a truly global issue.

              What has been done about it?

              Banning the use of silica-sand, and sandblasting jeans in general has been enforced in most countries now, following a very damning report by a doctor in Turkey in 2004. The report reached the Turkish government who eventually banned the process five years later in 2009. From this, a Clean Clothing movement began, led by the Fair Trade Center that investigated 17 clothing brands in 2010, leading to all 17 brands banning the sandblasting of denim by 2011, and a world awareness with the BBC and various ethical clothing enthusiasts getting on board with the Clean Clothes Campaign, that has not only gone viral but has got the attention of a global audience.

              As late as 2019 however, there has been some evidence that China is still sandblasting jeans illegally far down the supply chain, hidden from the end buyer. So, the bottom line is, you have no real way of knowing if the faded, comfortable, low-cost jeans we buy off the shelf today in any high-street store not part of the 2010 study, has been subject to an ethical manufacturing process.

              The uncomfortable truth maybe that we have helped a foreign worker contract silicosis – however indirectly.

              What has all this got to do with Trolex?

              Eradicating silica dust from unsafe sandblasting practices in jeans manufacturing, is a good first step, but silica dust is still unavoidable in other industries.

              Quarrying, construction and the manufacturing of stone, bricks and most mining industries will always release some silica dust particulates in the air, and the efforts have to be on the controls that need to be put in place to avoid workers ingesting respirable crystalline silica (RCS), which leads to silicosis.

              The UK, US and Australia are making real headway in tackling this problem, but the main issue that has emerged throughout all the research, has been the lack of any real-time data.

              Monitoring silica dust, it not an easy process, and this is why Trolex have spent the last eight years developing a way to do just this, in real time, to protect the workers on site every day, and throughout the day. New laser technology has been developed in the Air XS Silica Monitor, that will soon be available to monitor RCS in this way. Providing more information about where silica is, when and how much is produced, which then gives employers the opportunity to protect their staff clearly, using controls such as better ventilation and PPE usage where it’s needed most on site. This knowledge undoubtedly makes a difference, and ultimately helps the global vision and mission to prevent RCS overexposure for good, saving countless lives.

              Jeans, it seems, have helped to open up the global conversation and war on silicosis, so they really do have a great deal to do with silica, and in turn, Trolex.

              To find out more about what we are doing about reduces instances of occupational silicosis, use the contact form to get in touch with one of our experts today.