Tommy Walsh: “Act now to avoid the next asbestos” as silicosis cases rise in the UK

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 should be viewed the same way as asbestos.

While he became aware of silica particulates 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 are construction workers.

Silicosis: A national concern

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 silicosis, which is the most common chronic occupational lung disease in the world.

More from Tommy, “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 silica 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 particulates including silica in the workplace, opposed to just 142 recorded due to workplace accidents between 2020/2021.

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 silicosis have been estimated to cost employers in the UK construction industry over £1 million a year.

In order to raise awareness and protect construction workers from this preventable disease, Trolex have launched the Air XS Silica Monitor, which can provide real time levels of dangerous particulates in the air.

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.

To find out more, get in touch today using the contact form below to speak to one of our experts about the Trolex Air XS Silica Monitor.







    The battle against silicosis: This is personal

    By Glyn Pierce-Jones – CEO of Trolex.

    ***

    What might seem like a nine-year journey to develop the Trolex Air XS Silica Monitor actually goes back 150 years. Our new silica detection technology has surprising origins… 

    It starts at a time when miners had next to no protection, especially from silica dust, and to a place that ‘roofed the world.’ Snowdonia’s beautiful, bleak, Blaenau Ffestiniog.

    UNESCO Heritage status

    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 silicosis.

    No health and safety. No silica detection and prevention. No chance.

    Personal and poignant

    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 silica detection. 

    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.

    New hope

    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 technology that offers new hope to people who previously had no hope of avoiding an unnecessary, painful and premature end to their lives.

    It’s called the Trolex Air XS Silica Monitor

    And it’s astonishing.

    The world’s first 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!