Silica dust detection device to protect NSW workers from silicosis

Tuesday, 07 December, 2021

Silica dust detection device to protect NSW workers from silicosis

The first Australian field trials of new technology to detect dangerous levels of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) have commenced in Sydney, with Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson stating that this technology, developed in partnership with the Centre for Work Health and Safety and Trolex Sensors, will help workers identify high levels of RCS in real time, thereby preventing inhalation and the contraction of silicosis. Anderson added that the device will be instrumental in helping to reduce silicosis in NSW.

“There is nothing on the market that can accurately detect RCS instantly, so our world-first device will be a game changer for anyone working with stone,” Anderson said.

The new technology differs from existing air monitoring as it accurately detects RCS particles in the air in real time, analysing incoming data to provide a milligram per cubic metre reading and a feature that alerts workers if they are in danger. Anderson predicts that the device will be commercially available by mid next year; once the technology is finalised, it will then be made smaller so workers can wear it as a device to stop them from unknowingly inhaling dangerous levels of silica dust.

“We will be working with high-risk industries and workplaces to field-test the technology to ensure it’s working as it should be in the unique Australian conditions before we progress to the final phase,” Anderson said.

The new detector is one component of the NSW Government’s NSW Dust Strategy 2020–22, to tackle dust diseases, including silicosis and asbestosis. The NSW Government is taking steps to protect workers, including reducing the legal exposure standard for silica exposure, banning dry cutting of manufactured stone, making silicosis a notifiable disease and establishing a dust diseases register that will track, respond to and prevent deadly dust diseases, including asbestosis and silicosis.

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