TROLEX INSPIRES NEW APPG PERSPECTIVE ON RESPIRATORY HEALTH

In 2020, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Respiratory Health (APPG) issued the report “Silica, the next asbestos?”, which examined the disproportionate effect of silica dust to construction workers’ lives. 

Since the publication of that report, the APPG were contacted by a number of experts on the subject matter, who highlighted the advances in risk reduction and the particularly promising rise of real-time dust and silica monitoring technology. 

“Trolex believe that the most obvious and immediate benefit of real-time monitoring is in improving safety for those potentially exposed to silica in the workplace.” 

The new, revised report, titled “Improving Silicosis Outcomes in the UK” also explored these new silicosis prevention strategies, including some input from Trolex on the subject matter. From this, the APPG raised several clinical and regulatory recommendations to protect workers from the dangers of occupational silicosis going forward. 

“We recommend that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) assesses and determines the data and technology needed to allow the UK to reduce the WEL for work with silica to 0.05mg/m3.” 

The recommendations from the APPG’s report indicate a number of changes need to be made in order to improve safety across all UK industries which use silica. These recommendations focus on both ways to prevent exposure to dangerous Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) in the workplace, including improvements in education, real-time monitoring and reducing exposure limits, as well as improving health and support for those who currently suffer with silicosis. 

“We recommend that the HSE actively considers and consults with industry on the positions of real-time monitoring to complement the hierarchy of control.” 

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. 

Dust monitoring technology averts the threat of occupational lung diseases

The threat is averted with dust monitoring technology

As if the known dangers of exposure to harmful respirable dusts weren’t bad enough, new research is showing that long-term exposure to ambient air pollution is associated with a far wider range of diseases and highlights the importance of particulate monitoring.

Not only are 1.4 million people in the UK reporting ‘lung or breathing problems that were caused or made worse by work,’ and 12,000 people dying every year due to occupational lung diseases, evidence is mounting to show that airborne pollution also causes dementia, strokes and skin cancer.

The study, conducted in the USA and first published in the journal Stroke is titled “Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter, Residential Proximity to Major Roads and Measures of Brain Structure“.

Examining the brains of more than 900 people over 60 years old, it revealed that long-term exposure to fine dust causes both brain atrophy (brain shrinkage) and leads to an increased risk of stroke and other disease.

Implications for business, too.

Not only is this news alarming for those who live near busy roads, it also draws attention to the added dangers faced by those working in conditions, and with materials, they may have previously thought safe. 

For example, welders, who, despite now using supposedly less dangerous materials and working in spaces where local exhaust ventilation (LEV) is employed, seem to be vulnerable to a far wider range of illnesses than previously thought.

As the report highlighted, even limited exposure of fine dust particles can lead to the heightened risk of cerebrovascular disease and cognitive impairment.

Benjamin Howell on the Fabricator.com says, ‘at the nanolevel, invisible to the human eye, the concentration of particulate matter can pose a great risk to welders. Studies show that welding fume particulates are mostly smaller than 0.1 micrometer, which makes nearly all welding fume particles respirable. They can penetrate deep into the alveolate region of the lungs during inhalation and remain firmly fixed there.’ 

It’s not all bad news though.

The first step towards change: Recognise you have a problem.

By revealing far greater and far wider reaching dangers than previously acknowledged, the new research means the important issue of how best to protect people from damaging dusts is getting the attention it deserves. 

The sheer weight of evidence amassing from the likes of The Journal of Cleaner Production, The British Medical Journal, and Harvard is forcing the hand of governments, regulatory bodies and employers. The necessary steps to protect not just their workers, but every one of us exposed to dangerous airborne pollutants, are being considered and taken. This includes controls, sensors and dust detectors, among other things.

A preemptive strike on harm with dust detectors.

What if a threat could be detected before it even became a threat? What if you could be alerted to the presence of even the smallest of damaging airborne dusts before they had the chance to damage health?

Leading H&S expert John Cairns says:

“The best thing is to detect the hazard before you’re exposed to the hazard. Before you’re exposed to the hazard or a high concentration. You can get the hell out of there, or with the way this new technology works you can set off ventilation systems to clear the area.

The whole ethos behind the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to reduce the risk to as low as is reasonably practicable. I think the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor is adding to that – it’s enhancing the safety system.”

Learn more about real-time dust monitoring

Real-time dust monitoring is an effective way at reducing the risk to workers in hazardous working environments. When combined with RPE, PPE and other equipment, the threats from dust and particle inhalation are reduced drastically. This has a big impact on worker health, morale and productivity.

Send us a message today to find out more about our work to help organisations like yours protect your people from the threat of damaging dust particles with sensors, dust detectors and systems tailored to your work environment.