DustCanary – Personal Dust Monitoring Wearables

Improving Silicosis Outcomes in the UK: The All Party Parliamentary Group report

DustCanary’s position on the APPG report on Improving Silicosis Outcomes in the UK

DustCanary fully supports the recommendations of the ‘All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Report – Improving Silicosis Outcomes in the UK’. Long term occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica plays a contributory role in literally 1000’s of current deaths a year in the UK which is shocking and indefensible, knowing that much of this exposure is preventable. A change of thinking and the adoption of new methodologies is required to make a real difference to outcomes – including the use of real-time monitoring to help minimise avoidable exposure.

In support of the report’s recommendations related to real-time monitoring, DustCanary are engaging with all parties (duty holders, consultants, workers and HSE) to encourage the proper adoption of real-time monitors. DustCanary’s experience, like that of other experts, is that real-time monitoring complements existing periodic sampling methodologies and provides two significant additional benefits.

The first benefit is providing instant alarms to improve safety:

  • Personal alarms warn workers when they are being exposed to increased risk due to an increase in respirable dust levels so that evasive action can be taken
  • Personal and fixed system alarms give early detection of abnormal exposure situations (plant breakdown or plant or personnel not working to optimised procedures)

DustCanary’s evidence to the APPG inquiry is reflected in the report: “In well controlled workplaces, real-time qualitative and indicative monitors may form part of the engineering and administrative controls by providing feedback that these controls are working as designed and reduce the risk of an undetected incident which would otherwise increase worker exposure”.

The second benefit is in providing insightful time resolved exposure profiles to better plan dust minimisation and encourage continuous improvement:

  • When used as part of dust surveys, real-time monitoring gives visibility and insight to the varying dust exposure of personnel at different locations, using different procedures and at different times of the day so that plant operation, dust control procedures and equipment can be optimised to minimise risk
  • When used continuously, real-time monitoring provides continuous feedback on plant operation and procedures so that they can be continuously improved to reduce exposure

It should be obvious that the usefulness of information from real-time monitors depends directly on the quality of the measurement (uncertainty) and the intended purpose of the monitoring whether it be to trigger actions or inform different decisions. Hence DustCanary supports and is involved with the development of standards which define uncertainty limits on the performance for the different types of real-time monitors (whether their measurements be quantitative or qualitative, or their form factor be portable, wearable or fixed) and the purpose for which each may be used.

DustCanary are committed to encouraging the use of real-time monitors which improve outcomes in terms of improving safety and minimisation of dust exposure.

Read the report here