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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The UK’s favourite DIY and home improvement expert, Tommy Walsh, is calling for more to be done to protect workers from the dangers of silica dust.
Tommy believes that the issue of air quality on building sites should be a national concern, and that silica dust should be viewed the same way as asbestos.
While he became aware of the dangers of silica dust as an issue around five years ago, in relation to the disposal of plasterboard, Tommy says that he has not heard the issue discussed on building sites. This is in spite of the fact that 81% of those regularly exposed to silica dust are construction workers.
Tommy shared that the majority of health and safety concerns on smaller building sites are focused around obvious, external risks, such as falling from a ladder, electricity and water. As a result, he believes that more needs to be done to raise awareness of “invisible” risks, such as occupational silicosis, which is the most common chronic lung disease in the world.
He continued, “over half of the country’s construction is done by small builders and ‘one-man-band’ outfits. Air quality has always been a secondary concern to them, as they don’t know enough about it. Everyone would rather work safe than not safe, but they can’t do that if they don’t have the awareness. Health and safety can often be ignored due to cost-saving, time-saving, or ignorance, but if we can normalise the importance of air quality it will make it harder to ignore.”
Recent data has shown that respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is the biggest risk to construction workers after asbestos, with cases and exposure rising year on year. There are 12,000 deaths a year in the UK from inhalation of dust including silica in the workplace, opposed to just 142 recorded due to workplace accidents between 2020/2021. What’s more, there are an estimated 50,000 workers worldwide exposed to silica dust.
The scale of the issue is not matched by the awareness and action needed to prevent it.
Silicosis, as well as being the world’s most common occupational lung disease, can increase a person’s risk of tuberculosis, kidney disease, arthritis, and lung cancer. The consequences of occupational silicosis have been estimated to cost employers in the UK construction industry over £1 million per year.
In order to raise awareness and protect construction workers from this entirely preventable disease, Trolex have launched the Air XS Silica Monitor, the world’s first real-time silica monitor, which can provide real-time data of dangerous silica dust particles workers are exposed to across any given day.
Requiring no complicated set-up and only five minutes of maintenance a month, the Air XS Silica Monitor is easy-to-use and provides accurate, real-time RCS monitoring with minimal training, letting workers know if the amount of RCS content in their workspace is increasing as they work and when it has risen to dangerous levels.
Get in touch today using the contact form below to speak to one of our experts about how the Trolex Air XS Silica Monitor can help protect workers from occupational silicosis.
You may have seen The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Respiratory Health report ‘Silica – the next asbestos’ released in March 2020?
In it, it states:
“Construction workers are still 100 times more likely to die from a preventable occupational disease than from an accident. We also know that approximately 12,000 deaths in the industry each year are linked to exposure to dust and chemicals.”
“Figures from IOSH show that roughly half a million people are exposed to RCS at work in the UK. They estimate that in Europe as a whole, 81% of these are employed in construction or in manufacturing products used in that industry.”
Experts at Trolex brought our new technology to the APPG’s attention and explained our nine-year silica detection R&D project that resulted in development of the new real-time silica monitor – work that we’d kept closely under wraps until mid 2021.
The original report refers to Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) of dust. It says:
“Dust monitoring is vital. Technology advances mean that new methods of real-time exposure level monitoring are now possible. Knowing what the actual exposure levels are is important as exposure will depend on the actual task (e.g. cutting concrete is higher risk than breaking concrete, and the actual exposures depend on the concrete mixture).
“The new Code of Practice for Tunnelling […] that requires the use of new technology which is just becoming available and gives an instantaneous measurement.”
The instantaneous measurement the report refers to is the measurement of a variety of dust and particulates (something we already do with our Air XD Dust Monitor and XD One Personal Dust Monitor products) – not specifically silica. Silica always being too difficult to uniquely identify.
Our new silica-specific monitoring technology is a game changer.
By working with the authors of the APPG to share the features, benefits and thinking behind the new real-time silica monitoring technology they’ve been able to update the report with new advice on how to best protect workers from the dangers of respirable crystalline silica (RCS).
Use the contact form below if you’d like to book your demonstration with one of our experts today.
Or, get in touch with a local distributor to you if you’d like to book a demonstration.
After nine years in development, the world’s first real-time respirable crystalline silica (RCS) detector, the Air XS Silica Monitor, was launched in Australia for the very first time on 7 April 2022.
The Centre for Work Health and Safety unveiled the product along with our Australian distributors Active Environmental Solutions (AES) to the Australian public at the Shellbourne Hotel in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW).
With guests from an array of industries including construction, tunnelling and mining, it was an event in which over 50 influences turned up to see the world’s first real-time silica monitor.
As the cases of occupational silicosis caused by the inhalation of silica dust continue to grow in Australia, particularly in NSW, where 75 cases of silicosis have been recorded since 2020, the Air XS Silica Monitor has the potential to provide a solution to this problem.
This was an opportunity for major influencers in their respected industries to see just why everyone is so excited about the Air XS Silica Monitor.
The event started with an ‘acknowledgement of the country’ from the Centre for Work Health and Safety, demonstrating the issue of occupational silicosis in Australia and how important it is to accurately monitor for silica dust in real time.
The Air XS Silica Monitor is a major technological advancement in monitoring for silica dust globally, and nowhere more so than in Australia. So much so that a rebate scheme has been put in place by the NSW government in order to urge companies to do more when it comes to safeguarding their employees against silica dust in the workplace.
The rebate scheme means that all NSW businesses are eligible for $1,000 rebate refund at time of purchase of each Air XS unit, as well as potential small businesses in the area.
With demonstrations now available for all businesses, not only in NSW, but across the whole of Australia, the incentive to ‘get real’ on silica monitoring has never been higher.
After a full demonstration of the unit from Aleks Todorovic, Managing Director at AES, it was evident just how successful this could be in NSW, as well as a chance for individuals to see just how this device works, up close and personal in real time.
Aleks added, ‘After the presentations, we were inundated with enquires and requests for demonstrations, so I have no doubt the Air XS Silica Monitor is going to be a huge success’.
The world’s first real-time silica monitor was also on show at Coverings 2022 Stone and Tile trade event at the Las Vegas Convention Centre in Nevada, USA.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
What might seem like a nine-year journey to develop the Trolex Air XS Silica Monitor actually goes back 150 years. Our new real-time silica detection technology has surprising origins…
It starts at a time when miners had next to no protection, especially from harmful silica dust, and to a place that ‘roofed the world’; Snowdonia’s beautiful, bleak, Blaenau Ffestiniog.
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 occupational silicosis.
No health and safety. No silica detection and prevention. No chance.
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 occupational silicosis.
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.
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 real-time dust monitoring technology that offers new hope to people who previously had no hope of avoiding an unnecessary, painful and premature end to their lives caused by occupational lung diseases.
It’s called the Air XS Silica Monitor.
And it’s astonishing.
The world’s first real-time 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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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”.
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.
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.