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With officially more mobile phones in the world than people, it is clear to see the advancements that technology has made over the past 20 years, integrating into our everyday lives and in many ways becoming a replacement for human intuition.

A report in Forbes magazine suggested that app downloads are expected to reach 268,692 billion by 2017, based on data collected from the Apple app store alone. Whilst this new technology has brought many benefits, we are all aware of the potential negative impact it may have on natural human intellect and on using our own instincts. How can we, as monitors of public environments and workforces, embrace the benefits of technology without losing our core skills, expertise and experience?

Putting it into practice

Like any other industry, environmental health and safety has felt the positive effect of the push toward technology and the advancement of monitoring is a big part of this. Occupational hygienists, noise consultants and engineers alike are using new technology in their everyday roles, monitoring dust and noise levels for individual workers and in the wider environment.

Erich Thalheimer, a Principal Acoustical Engineer with WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff, frequently used Casella’s CEL 593 noise and vibration monitoring device when he managed the noise control program during peak construction years (1996 – 2005) for the biggest urban infrastructure and transportation project in US history; the I-93 Central Artery/I-90 Tunnel Project, more popularly known as the ‘Big Dig’ in Boston.

The project alleviated an extensive traffic problem that had plagued the city for half a century, saving Boston’s road users an estimated $500 million dollars in elevated accident rates, fuel consumption and late delivery charges by the time of its completion in 2007. The project also reunited Boston’s neighbourhoods with the waterfront, built new bridges and public parks, and paved the way for the city’s growth well into the 21st century. During this time, Erich oversaw contractor compliance, performed specialised noise/vibration studies, developed innovated noise control solutions, and ensured the project's EIS noise commitments were fulfilled.

At the heart of Erich’s work was the confidence of knowing that he could trust his CEL 593 as a reliable, highly accurate yet simple to use device to accompany his wider research into construction- and traffic-induced noise and vibration experienced by people living close to the Big Dig. The simplicity of the CEL 593 and Erich’s expertise combined to offer viable and effective solutions to the problem, with a subsequent drop in the number of complaints received. Erich still uses the same device to this day; some 20 years after he initially purchased it back in 1996.

Intuitive health and safety

Monitoring for noise, dust and vibration still requires an equal amount of human intuition in order to assess many vital aspects including the likely causes, the people impacted and the steps that need to be taken to improve the situation. As Erich states, “The best acoustic analyser in the world is the one between our ears!”

When monitoring is taking place, you should always take into account other environmental factors prevalent on the day. For example, results taken during the summer will be affected by open windows and skylights, creating a breeze that could distribute dust particles within the area being tested. If the same test were to be conducted in the winter with windows closed, the dust would remain on surfaces making it more apparent. This simple change in season could cause an issue to go unnoticed. The most successful results can be achieved when there is a combination of human intuition, experience, and the objectivity of the equipment.

Reaching a happy medium

When asked about the use of technology for the monitoring of health and safety, Erich said: “With the progress of technology, the job of an acoustical engineer has become easier. Where would we be without GPS and Google Earth? But somewhere along the way, these developments have caused us to lose sight of acoustic reality. People are now relying too much on their instruments.”

It is clear that despite the growth in technology, its undoubtable benefits and its seamless simplicity, a true understanding and appreciation of acoustics is best achieved with collaboration between technology and people. By reaching this happy medium we can learn to see technology as an extension of our own capabilities, not a replacement.


See our modern equivalent of the CEL-593 by clicking here 

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Following a rigorous testing process, Casella has announced Intrinsically Safe approval for its Apex2 personal sampling pump range, with class leading performance and capability.

Instruments supplied for application in atmospheres where there is a risk of explosion must be designed with the appropriate safety requirement critical in achieving IS approval; protecting the equipment and ensuring it is safe to use. Achieving the IS certification for the Apex2 range ensures that monitoring and analysis of dust exposure can be carried out safely and effectively in these areas. The range includes three separate models - the Apex 2, Apex 2 Plus and Apex 2 Pro, with different functionality to meet varying requirements; all designed to monitor workplace dust levels to help protect workers from developing long latency health problems as the result of occupational exposures.

Incorporating Bluetooth connectivity with Casella’s bespoke Airwave software; workers can be monitored remotely without being distracted, boosting productivity levels. Monitoring specialists can view the status of their dust sampling pump on a worker and start, stop or even pause the tool from a smart device. This software is simple and easy to use, providing real-time status updates, allowing collected data to be emailed alongside photos and notes, adding context to the data and further simplifying the reporting process.

Tim Turney, Casella’s product manager said: “Achieving the IS accreditation for the Apex2 sampling pump demonstrates our commitment to providing solutions that ultimately help to enhance the long term health and quality of life for workers operating in high risk sectors. The Apex2 IS has also gained the certification without compromising the power and battery life that the Apex2 is known for, allowing it to be used with many types of air sampling media.”

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It is often said that the U.S. and the U.K. are two nations divided by a common language. But where noise is concerned, we definitely have agreement on the causal relationship between exposure and hearing loss, which has been observed anecdotally for centuries.

What is now referred to in an occupational context as noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) was observed in the early 1700s among copper workers in Italy. Later, towards the end of the 19th century, around the time of the first Industrial Revolution, Thomas Barr, a Scottish MD, coined the term Boilermaker’s ear after the first patients he observed (shipbuilders located on the River Clyde) who demonstrated the peculiar symptoms of impaired hearing. It’s easy to imagine the din caused by the impact of metal-on-metal when riveting.

So it’s frustrating, to say the least, that in the 21st century, 22 million U.S. workers according to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) are still exposed to hazardous noise levels and a further 9 million are exposed to ototoxic chemicals. Hearing loss has become one of the most common work-related illnesses in the U.S. and globally, with 16 percent of hearing loss attributed to occupational exposure. NIOSH estimates that $242 million is spent annually on workers’ compensation for hearing loss disability; in 2015, $1.5 million in penalties was levied on employers. Doesn’t that seem small change for what is a wholly preventable disease?

It’s said that if your ears literally bled then wider society may have a different attitude toward (occupational) deafness. Perhaps the public would then view hearing loss as equal to the more obvious loss of a limb or precious eyesight. The latter are examples of acute safety issues, whereas hearing loss is chronic in nature—that is, it can take years before the effects become obvious, by which time the damage is done and can’t be reversed. Surprisingly, more people have hearing loss than diabetes, cancer, or vision trouble in the U.S.

The Impact of NIHL

Quoting directly from a CDC blog by Elizabeth Masterson:

Hearing loss can have a profound impact on the quality of life. The effects begin small and progress as hearing loss worsens. For most individuals, it starts with others sounding like they are mumbling because some sounds cannot be heard well. The individual often has to ask others to repeat themselves, and this becomes frustrating for both parties. Both begin limiting the length and depth of conversations. As hearing loss progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to hear others in the presence of background noise. Social gatherings and even dinner at a restaurant become isolating activities because of the inability to understand what people are saying and individuals can’t contribute to the conversation.

There are other effects, such as loss of enjoyment. Even a person with mild hearing loss has trouble hearing softer sounds, has difficulty differentiating between the softest sounds and the loudest sounds, and has more listening fatigue. To compensate for this loss of hearing sensitivity, people with hearing loss will need to “turn it up” whenever possible.

Safety can also be compromised. The sounds of a tea kettle, the warning beep as a fork lift backs up, and the engine of an oncoming car may be missed. There can be a general loss of situational awareness.

Not surprisingly, all of these challenges can affect a person’s mental health. Hearing loss is strongly associated with depression. Depressed people are also less likely to participate in activities with others, so the effects of hearing loss and depression compound and intensify isolation. Hearing loss is also associated with cognitive decline, which includes loss of memory and thinking skills. As people lose their ability to hear, they don’t use the hearing-related parts of their brains as much, and these parts start to break down. It is a case of “use it or lose it.”

The Cost

NIHL is just one consequence of occupational exposure that the industrial hygienist has to consider among a plethora of potential hazards such as toxic dusts and vapours, radiation, and vibration. Long-term exposure can lead to debilitating illnesses such as hand-arm syndrome in the case of vibration and occupational asthma and lung cancers from breathing “contaminated” air in the workplace, which could ultimately lead to premature death. Construction is very prone to multiple exposure types, and the rate of deaths from respiratory diseases significantly exceeds the rate of accidental deaths (by a factor of 100 in the U.K.).

Apart from the emotive human costs, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) reported that, for 2009, employers spent $74 billion on workers’ compensation. This figure rose to $88 billion in 2013. In that same year, the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reported that more than 3 million workers had a non-fatal occupational injury or illness. Worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), Annually, 160 million people are affected by occupational injuries and illnesses, and 2 million people die, with costs that equate to nearly 4 percent of world GDP. That’s over $3 trillion U.S. dollars!

Further delving back into history, during the building of the Panama Canal nearly six thousand deaths were recorded from disease and accidents, which today you would think unacceptable. However, it is said that 7,000 construction workers will have died in Qatar by the time the first ball is kicked in the soccer World Cup in 2022. How many more will have had preventable exposures? By contrast, the building of the London 2012 Olympic Park was a significant landmark in infrastructure development since there were no deaths during construction and the provision of occupational hygiene (and health) services demonstrated a 7:1 return on investment. This project has become the benchmark for U.K. construction, and a similar approach has been implemented on other major infrastructure developments such as London’s Crossrail rail project and regeneration of the iconic Battersea Power Station on the banks of the River Thames.

Clearly, ill health and injury are bad for business, which is at last waking up to the fact that good health and safety is an investment, not a “blocker” to productivity. But while health and safety are referred to in the same breath, we have actually been shouting safety and whispering health, and this must change.

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We are proud to present our new video for the Intrinsically Safe Apex2, illustrating the features and benefits that make it the ideal pump for air sampling in workplaces of all kinds.

The market leading Apex2 Sampling Pump is now approved for use in explosive environments, from simple air sampling to specialised measurement of dusts, fumes and vapours.

The Apex2 I.S. will once again revolutionise air sampling with next generation features including:

- Slim and lightweight design makes the Apex2 easy to wear

- Market leading airflow stability

- Intrinsically safe and IP65 rated for use in hazardous environments

- Motion sensor to check pump usage

- Monitor pump via Bluetooth Airwave software



To register your interest in the Apex2 Intrinsically Safe Air Sampling Pump please click here

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If you’re looking to save critical time and money for your business whilst ensuring compliance with Noise at Work Regulations, Casella’s one day noise course is an excellent opportunity.

The Casella Noise Course has been created to equip attendees with the knowledge and skills required to effectively monitor workplace noise.

Led by our noise expert Shaun Knott, the course is an excellent opportunity to ensure compliance with noise at work regulations, whilst also learning some tips and tricks to improve noise regulation in your workplace.

Successful completion of a test at the end of the day provides attendees with certification reflective of their achievements and the ability to start monitoring in their respective workplaces. 

During the course, Casella will provide training on the use of dosimeters (personal noise monitoring devices) and offer guidance on how to turn the dosimeter readings into values that help determine the most appropriate form of hearing protection. Delegates attending the last course said it was “interesting and enjoyable”, as well as being “extremely helpful, covering more than I expected”.  

To book your place on the noise monitoring course, please contact Sam Roy, on samroy@casellasolutions.com or by calling 01234 844100.

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In 2016, Gibraltar International Airport achieved record passenger movements, with more than 500,000 passengers travelling through the airport by the end of November – a remarkable figure for the British Overseas Territory just 2.5 square miles in size.

Runway operation in Gibraltar currently requires the territory’s busiest highway to close, causing regular delays for passengers and drivers travelling to and from mainland Spain.

To combat this issue, ensuring the growth of the airport and improved access to this popular destination, an access road and tunnel project has been ongoing since 2008, involving the construction of a road 1.24 km long with two lanes in each direction ensuring the land border remains open at all times.  

A 2016 report highlighted that Gibraltar is currently exceeding the World Health Organisation's recommended levels for air pollution, with pollutants that directly threaten the health of the population.  The Gibraltar Best Practice Guide for Dust Control written by the Department of the Environment states that the local limit recommendations for Gibraltar in high risk areas such as the airport construction site should not exceed 250 μg/m3 over 15 minutes.   

According to the Mayor of London’s report on ‘The Control of Dust and Emissions During Construction and Demolition (published July 2014)’, 15 percent of London’s airborne particulates are attributable to construction which together with the focus by the British Occupational Health Society (BOHS) on the adverse health implications for workers of silica present in construction dust, points to the control needs from both an environmental and health & safety perspective.

With an estimated 2,993 registered construction workers residing in Gibraltar and a large proportion of these individuals involved in this project, monitoring their environment to ensure exposures are kept to a minimum is crucial. The high levels of emissions already apparent in the atmosphere increases with the changing wind direction and there is a correlation between easterly and southern winds increasing high dust levels.

Good Measure
Lucia Diez Cadavid, Environmental Manager of the project is responsible for ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements, including the 2010 Environment Control of Dust Regulations, determining potentially negative impacts. Having successfully used it on an earlier project in Qatar, Diez Cadavid introduced Casella’s Boundary Guardian monitoring system to ensure project compliance with government regulations; the system is enabling her to primarily monitor dust and noise emissions. She is also using it to ascertain wind speed and direction. Diez Cadavid can remotely access this real time data as it automatically synchronises to a supporting website where the results can be instantly analysed.

Diez Cadavid says, “The Boundary Guardian provides me with live data that enables me to primarily check local regulatory limits are adhered to, but it also shown data that has enabled me to put improved preventative health and safety measures in place we provide screens, face masks and use sprinklers to keep emissions to a minimum.”

Making Changes
The Boundary Guardian is providing a key solution for monitoring regulatory limits and the data collected is allowing for further exploration. Recently, unidentifiable particles have been sent to a laboratory for testing to identify the origin and source, providing an educational insight for the future. Due to the instantaneous results,  Diez Cadavid is  required to submit weekly reports to the Environmental Agency providing evidence of compliance to dust and noise levels.

Commenting on the successful application of the device, Diez Cadavid says “ The immediacy that the Boundary Guardian provides is crucial and has enabled us to set up a constant dialogue with our workforce and Environmental Agency alike to demonstrate we are compliant and that worker health is a real priority for us in this project. “

Through use of the Boundary Guardian, Diez Cadavid is embracing the benefits of real-time data, harnessing the constant flows of information the system captures. As a result, productivity, morale and environmental compliance remain high on a project set to change how Gibraltar operates forever.

 Government of Gibraltar. Dust- Best Practise Guide. 2010.
 https://www.london.gov.uk/file/18750/download?token=zV3ZKTpP  www.breathefreely.org.uk/

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An estimated 20,000 people working during the last year alone suffered from Noise Induced Hearing Loss. Tim Turney, technical product manager, discusses the long lasting impact this condition can have, and how employers must put monitoring processes in place to help identify the issue.

Action on Hearing Loss reports that there are more than 11 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss; accounting for a sixth of the population. By 2035, this figure is set to rise, with 15.6 million people affected by hearing loss. NIHL was first seen as in issue in an occupational context in the early 1700s, amongst copper workers in Italy.  In the 19th century, Thomas Barr coined the phrase ‘Boilermaker’s Ear’, describing the peculiar series of symptoms felt by shipmakers located on the River Clyde, caused by the impact of metal-on-metal when riveting. Given that the exposure was first acknowledged over three hundred years ago, why is this wholly preventable condition still so prevalent in workplaces today?

At a Loss

Since the introduction of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations in Great Britain in April 2006, employers have a responsibility to protect the hearing of their workers.

We actually hear with our brain, not our ears, and so when hearing loss occurs, connections in the brain that respond to sound become re-organised.    Though individual experiences vary, the effects tend to begin small, and progress as the hearing loss worsens.  For most, it begins with not being able to hear simple sounds clearly – with people in a close proximity sounding as if they are mumbling.  Social situations eventually become increasingly difficult and can result in changing relationships with co-workers, managers, friends, and family. Employees with hearing loss are fundamentally more vulnerable in the workplace, unware of sounds around them, resulting in safety accidents potentially occurring. The inability to communicate with employers on workplace issues could also eventually impact the likelihood of further training in a role.

Tinnitus, often called ‘Ringing in the Ears’, is a loud ringing noise that is commonly associated with hearing loss. This annoying buzzing or ringing noise in the ears can eventually disrupt sleep and concentration levels, meaning that the individual is not alert during the day. Unsurprisingly, people suffering with hearing loss faced with such obstacles on a daily basis can suffer from depression as a result.  

Perhaps there would be a different attitude to occupational deafness issues if the physical impact was more severe -  – if worker’s ears were to bleed, or if hearing loud sounds was a very painful instant experience.  For those with the condition, it truly is all-encompassing.

Get Monitoring

Monitoring is key to preventing workplace NIHL and there are a range of solutions available depending on the risk and requirements of the environment in question. Taking on a new responsibility to tackle this can feel daunting. It can be effectively carried out by appropriately trained health and safety professionals, or occupational hygienists, both able to advise on key actions that must be taken to manage the monitoring programme going forward. Importantly, monitoring must be conducted in a way so that the comfort or productivity of the worker is not impacted.

When starting workplace noise monitoring, you must ask yourself 5 key questions:

What are the likely levels of noise in the workplace and their sources?
What needs to be measured- personal noise exposure, noise from a particular machine or wider area monitoring?
Is the noise source likely to be emitting significant high or low frequencies?
What class of sound level meter do you require? Have you checked relevant legislation and guidance?
How are you going to report your measurements and learn from them?
Noise dosimeters are ideal for personal exposure monitoring whilst sound level meters can be used via walk through surveys or area monitoring to check workforce regulations.  Environmental noise measurements can be taken over short, medium or long periods of time with hand held, semi permanent or permanent systems depending on the application.

If noise exposure reaches 80 decibels (dB), the equivalent of a telephone dial tone, employers are legally bound to start taking action.  Workplace noise monitoring gives you this analysis and will ensure you are putting the right processes in process, protecting your workforce now from potentially developing NIHL in the future as a result of workplace conditions.  




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According to the World Coal Association, there are around 892 billion tonnes of coal reserves worldwide and coal production is showing no signs of slowing down. Ensuring the global workforce of coal miners are protected against workplace exposures should be a priority.

Monitoring solutions have been enforced for many years, originally in the form of background samplers which captured dust in the general work environment. Modern methods such as long wall mining - a mechanised process allowing whole chunks of the wall to be mined in a single slice - provide speed, convenience and higher volumes of coal but as a result, dust in the atmosphere can reach an alarming level. Although more efficient, such modern methods expose workers to harmful substances increasing their risks of developing debilitating or fatal diseases such as Pneumoconiosis, commonly known as, ‘black lung.’

In Control

Historically, methods of monitoring dust exposures globally began with the use of background samplers. A single device hung in the mine to capture dust levels in the general workplace that worked in line with relevant government regulations, varying from country to country. Later, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the concept of personal monitoring through personal sampling pumps was developed, with findings from the UK Atomic Energy Authority  revealing flaws with the background monitoring system and its ability to measure an individuals’ exposure. The positive effect of flow pulsation - the measure of the difference in air flow between cycles - in personal sampling pumps was confirmed in the 1970’s by US scientists.[1]

In a further bid to enhance methods of monitoring dust exposure and improve workplace regulations through solutions, the UK Respiratory Dust Regulations were replaced in the 1980’s by the prominent Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) that stipulated frequent reviews of technology, inspection, accurate reporting arrangements and mine operators to report hazardous risks.[2]

Over time, The Australian Government has enforced similar regulations and, with the 2013 Health & Safety Mines Act, the Government pledged that 189 pneumoconiosis cases and 945 chronic bronchitis cases would be prevented over a 35-year period. In New South Wales, this required mine operators to undergo more stringent examinations of health and safety in the workplace. To do this, it was mandatory for employers to conduct regular audits and compile health monitoring and reports for individual employees. [3]

Black Lung

Fatal, debilitating and linked to the long term exposure of coal dust; miners have been at risk of black lung since mining started nearly 5,000 years ago in China.[4] Dating back to 1831, British researchers began serious scientific investigations into the effects of black lung disease. [5]There is no cure for the illnesses which, in some cases, is developed after 10-20 years of exposure from coal dust that builds up in the lungs stopping the process of oxygen, expelling carbon dioxide.[6]

Despite ongoing monitoring solutions, worker health can still be impacted. The Australian Government’s mission to eradicate the disease was believed to be effective, and the condition was thought to be eliminated. [7] In 2015 this changed when a single case was reported, followed by a further 15 cases in 2016. Investigations were conducted to identify the source of high dust levels, revealing open cut mining (a surface mining technique) and long wall mining to be the cause. The Queensland Government released a five-point action plan to tackle this re-emergence.[8]

Made to Measure

Personal sampling pumps are a technological innovation and exist to measure individual’s exposures to a variety of substances, including dust. It is important that the pumps are used with the correct sampling head and in the case of respirable dust a cyclone and  filter, which collects the particulate. This allows for additional investigations if necessary, including the measurement of silica content within the dust. This provides the industry with further knowledge that will help change working habits whenever dust levels exceed the limits. As the filter loads, the pump senses the change in pressure and works harder to maintain the flow rate.

If personal sampling pumps do not give a constant flow rate, functionality can be limited.

With this in mind, improvements have been made to different elements of personal sampling pumps over time. Battery technology, back pressure capability, accurate flow control, minimized pulsation, data download and the ability to be intrinsically safe are have all been improved, ensuring measurement of an individuals’ exposure to harmful substances is as accurate as possible. Understanding these factors in which the personal sampling pump needs to operate effectively will allow employers to chose the most effective device suited to their working environment


The latest International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) ISO13137 which covers the recognised standard for personal sampling pumps stipulates the latest requirements for personal sampling devices in the mining industry to achieve the current pulsation criteria of 10%, which many tested devices exceed, reaching over 25% pulsation. [9] The ISO standard includes 24 different countries, and to attain the correct measure of data, discussions are underway to determine whether the ISO criterion should be increased for maximum effectiveness. [10]This type of monitoring is essential to keep a track of worker’s exposures and prevent issues such as the recent increase in black lung in Australia from happening around the world.

Bridging the Gap

Coal mine workers complete their duties in a grueling environment and despite the industry exercising proactive measures to control occupational diseases since the 1950’s, continuing cases of heath complications reveal that monitoring must evolve in accordance to the changing production methods.

The industry recognises the complex matter of dealing with employee health through various methods, above and beyond  monitoring solutions, requiring all miners to undergo a pre-employment health assessment, as well as providing individuals health screenings once every five years of employment.[11] There is nothing currently for retired miners and there is scope for growth in this area to be able to monitor long latency effectively.

The coal mining industry is moving in a positive direction to control diseases that develop as the result of exposures. All necessary components in a health and safety management programme in this environment must work together to be effective and ensure worker health.

[1] Eun gyung Lee et al:  Evaluation of pump pulsation in respirable size-selective sampling: Part 1. Pulsation measurements.

[2] http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l149.pdf

[3] http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/inforce/500011c6-2a99-440f-8799-8cbf39393930/2014-799.pdf

[4] Dodson J, et al. Use of coal in the Bronze Age in China. The Holocene 24(5):525–530 (2014), doi: 10.1177/0959683614523155.


[6] http://dusttodust.org.au/about/

[7] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-15/workers-compensation-records-reveal-earlier-black-lung-cases/7719468

[8] https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/SLS/RIS_EN/2016/16SL176E.pdf

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556416/

[11] https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/SLS/RIS_EN/2016/16SL176E.pdf

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We are once again helping our customers reduce environmental risks from large construction projects with the introduction of the Guardian2 environmental site boundary monitor.

Casella brings to you the next generation of site monitoring with the Guardian2!

The Guardian2 is a multi-agent environmental monitor for measuring dust, noise, wind speed, wind direction and even vibration.

The Guardian2 also streams straight to the web, so now it’s even easier to stay on top of current emission levels from site using our innovative new website casella247.com.

The Guardian2 changes the way you monitor your site with features including:

'Plug and Play' set up for easy installation
Multi Network ESIM for maximum up-time
Models with single or multiple sensors
The Guardian2 is accessed by our all new website, casella247.com which features:

Email or text alerts to multiple or single users
Automatic reports set to report daily, weekly or monthly data, direct to your inbox
A single low cost data plan regardless of data used
To give you an opportunity to learn more about the Guardian2 and casella247, we are offering the chance to join one of two webinars.

The webinars will cover the key features of the product and give you the chance to ask our experts any questions you may have.

The two sessions will be:

May 2nd 2017 - 10am


May 2nd 2017 - 3:30pm

To register for you chosen session, please click on the time of your choosing to fill in your details and reserve your place.

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Trade deal negotiations between the USA, the Pacific Rim and Europe and the talks of the standardisation of regulatory controls have abruptly halted and are unlikely to be resumed in the current climate. Does Brexit and America First mean an end to the need for global standards like OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001?

The OHSAS series

The Occupational Health and Safety Assessment series (OHSAS), published in 1999, consisted of two specifications: 18001 provided requirements for an occupational health and safety management system and 18002 existed as the implementation guidelines.

In 2005, approximately 16,000 organisations were using the 18001 series in over 80 countries; by 2009 more than 116 countries were operating under the OHSAS series or its equivalent, with 54,000 certificates being issued to compliant organisations.

The standards provided coherent guidelines to help employers manage and control health and safety risks to achieve a healthy working environment, reduce the risk of accidents, aid legal compliance and improve overall performance.

New standards

Despite the OHSAS series helping to maintain health and safety strategies in many workplaces, some countries still did not comply and instead, followed their own regulations, causing inconsistencies worldwide.

To achieve consistency and ensure health and safety standards were being met internationally, the International Standards Community, including the US, sought guidance from the International Standards Organisation (ISO) to publish a truly global standard: ISO 45001.

Enhancing stability and ensuring cross-cultural compliance, the new standard groups all relevant regulations to all 65 participating countries.

Some experts believe that ISO 45001 could be too prescriptive a standard to follow, causing unrest amongst organisations and nations lacking the human and financial resources to comply with a universal health and safety strategy or manage legal problems effectively.

In the first draft of the standard, 3,000 comments were made resulting in insufficient votes to proceed. It begs the question, why is there reluctance to embrace a global standard?  Failure to comply with the requirements could blacklist organisations, contractors and sub-contractors from undertaking any Federal Government contracts.

Smart strategies

Publication of ISO 45001 could be as early as November 2017, depending on the approvals of the final draft.  Implementing this on a global scale will undoubtedly bring a host of challenges, with the aforementioned barriers including lack of resources and finances to rectify issues.

Here, technology can come to the rescue and combat these issues.  Smartphones and ‘the Cloud’ are among the methods that organisations are already using to implement environmental and occupational health systems to ensure relevant standards are met.

These affordable tools applied in the workplace provide businesses with real time data insights that otherwise would be difficult to maintain, meaning improvements can be made across processes, boosting employee morale, health and productivity.

It enables employers to instantly understand and manage the working environment their workforce is operating in, monitoring exposure levels and ensuring they are offering a healthy working environment.

We are experiencing a period of tumultuous change, making the future of ISO 45001 and the implications of other global standards unknown at this point.

This uncertainty could make the implementation process even more daunting for organisations.  Amidst the uncertainty, technology is available as the tool for businesses lacking suitable resources to implement such strategies, providing quick results and education for employers and workforces.

Irrespective of the organisation’s size, technology can help businesses follow the same global standards by providing instant, accessible information – even in a climate dominated by uncertainty.

Tim Turney is a Product Manager at Casella

This article was originally published on SHP Online

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In the latest in our blog series first featured on SHP Online, Casella Product Manager Tim Turney looks at the way the technology in our everyday lives has assisted the health and safety profession, and what it might mean for the future of occupational health.

The universal adoption of smartphones and tablets has changed our daily routines irrevocably. Devices have become an extension of the human mind, changing the way we communicate, obtain information, and document the world around us.

Employers are increasingly utilising technology for deeper insights into employee exposure levels from various substances in the workplace (including noise and dust), changing processes when limits are above regulatory levels. As the constant stream of data and different types of technology available continues to grow, employers can look forward to a future where employee exposure data will become even more specific.

Noise Action Week was celebrated between 22nd-27th May, marking the effort to reduce the cost of noise to our health and overall quality of life.  Technology is the key to transforming such practices in the workplace and could be a major tool in saving thousands of lives, reducing the likelihood of incidents occurring.

Now is the perfect time for employers to evaluate the methods they are using to monitor workplace exposures and to embrace the technological megatrend.

Why Monitor?

 Monitoring in the workplace is a key part of health and safety strategies, especially in a climate where there are almost 13,000 deaths each year from work-related lung diseases that could be the direct result of dust exposure.

By using technology and monitoring tools, employers can assess the working environment in real-time and each member of the team is involved in this process.  Personal monitoring pumps are an example of such practises and the data these collate help employers to implement new processes. These solutions can measure noise, dust, vibration and wind-speed, and the data can be transmitted wirelessly to a central hub using Bluetooth connectivity. With this, employers can monitor exposure levels at multiple sites remotely- keeping a track of the data all the time.

Smart Solutions

In addition to conventional monitoring equipment, cameras are also an effective method to document workplace conditions, practices and hazards, collating evidence that can be emailed and digitally recorded for future reference. Air pollution can be measured using cameras, as users can orient their device toward the horizon at sunset or sunrise to use ‘haziness’ as an indicator of pollution levels.

Safety and health professionals are starting to recognise the benefits of embracing technology. The director of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in the United States, Dr. John Howard says, “the future of direct-reading devices and smartphone applications may help to revolutionise the practice of industrial hygiene and safety evaluations.”

Bright Future

Specific monitoring instruments remain crucial in the overall health and safety process to ensure that employers are fully aware of the hazards their workforces are exposed too.

New technology should compliment existing practices and provide greater levels of information then previously available.

The more employers are aware of emerging trends and the latest tools available to monitor exposures, the easier it will be for them to integrate them into their daily analysis routine. As the world becomes dominated by technological advances, employers must keep up with these changes in order to ensure their workforces see the benefits.

This blog was first published on SHP Online and is part of a series from Casella covering different aspects of health and safety in the modern workplace.

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During the BOHS conference Casella's Jim Struthers took the stage for the annual 'Ignite' sessions, which give presenters 5 minutes to convey their passion and knowledge on a subject to the audience.

Footballer, Jedi or something else entirely?

Watch Jim Struthers brilliant presentation from the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) Ignite sessions. Can technology solve life's big question? He has 5 minutes to explain if it can!

Watch the video below:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRWX2Co7zgg

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In our latest blog first featured on SHP Online, Casella Product Manager Tim Turney looks at where health starts,safety finishes and where crossovers occur in the role of a safety professional.

The barriers and uncertainty felt when treating workplace health and safety as a joint entity is increasingly becoming a problem of the past.  Lawrence Waterman, founding partner of the Park Health and Safety Partnership and former head of health and safety for the London Olympic Delivery Authority, changed the meaning of the phrase forever when he approached health and safety processes together within the Olympic Park construction project.  The project of building the sporting complex for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Summer Paralympics, employing 80,000 with 80 million man hours  finished with zero fatalities; the first time ever for an Olympic construction project. 

In presentations since, including at a British Safety Council Event in 2014, Waterman detailed the rationale behind his approach of putting the same emphasis, time and handling on health management as safety.  This process involved planning the work with health in mind - from the initial risk assessment process to site monitoring, developing worker/supervisor understanding, and demonstrating how actions help to drive wider standards.

Waterman contextualised the issue, recounting first hand experience of where health was regarded as difficult to understand and manage, with immediate causes not obvious. [1] “Put simply”, he said, “ it was always meant to be health and safety”. Treating both with equal importance improves life expectancy and quality of life, creates healthier workers that will be more productive, and elevates business reputation and legacy.”

2017: Where Are We Now?

It seems Waterman’s approach has truly caught on; with many organisations implementing a similar approach in key sectors, including construction. The HSE’s #HelpGBWorkWell scheme that launched in 2016 is a further testament to the success and support this new approach has garnered, with health as the focus and salient points in the strategy highlighting ill health costs, aligning this to risk management and owning the topic of health more than ever before.

Coinciding with this is the continuing permutations of professional job titles in our industry that not only link health and safety together, but expand to quality, environment and wellbeing- demonstrated in QESH, or SHEQ job titles. Health and safety as a remit is only getting bigger.

United Approach

Control needs from a collaborative perspective – bringing in environmental, wellbeing and other elements on top of the traditional health and safety agenda – is demonstrated internationally with the Gibraltar International Airport project. This project, involving the construction of a road 1.24km long, with two lanes in each direction, will ensure the land border remains open at all times, connecting Gibraltar to mainland Spain

Environmental Manager for the project, Lucia Diez Cadavid used environmental monitoring processes that ultimately changed health and safety measures, utilising the data gleaned to make the workforce healthier and safer, including the introduction of screens, face masks, and sprinklers – all elements  that fell under her role and responsibilities.

A 2004 study conducted by the HSE found employers considered health and safety to be a generic phrase where individuals were unable to distinguish between the different types of risk concerned. [2]  We are much further forward then this now, and the remits of a health and safety professional are wider than ever before, utilising other areas of knowledge and skills.  As the wellbeing trend continues to gather momentum and workplaces and employers realise the true benefits of an integrated approach; traditional “health and safety professionals”  can look forward to the future.

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When construction work began on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Olympic Village project in 2005, it is highly likely that no-one at the time could have imagined how this project alone would transform the meaning of the phrase “health and safety” forevermore.

Occupational health was once synonymous with the outsourcing of doctors and nurses, often through clinical interventions, with a focus on the individual situation, rather than it forming a core part of a workplace management system.

Karen Baxter and Lawrence Waterman, who went on to be co-founders of the Park Health & Safety Partnership, were leading figures in the – ill health prevention work in the Olympic Village project. Karen and the occupational hygiene team knew that mind-sets needed to change for health to be taken as seriously as safety.   Coining the now famed phrase “Health Like Safety™”, a new approach was outlined. The strategy addressed workplace exposure issues - including dust, noise and hazardous substances, with clear risk assessment plans. Most importantly, it stressed the need to treat any workplace health risks in the same way safety issues were approached - immediately, with instant outcomes, implementing control measures and using monitoring techniques as a supportive tool to evaluate the success of such controls.

Encouraging employers to manage workplace health in the same way safety was handled, was a huge break from the past in a very high profile project that employed 80,000 people, with 80 million man hours and the first Olympic construction project ever that resulted in zero fatalities.

The Park Health & Safety Partnership: Origins

Following this success, Baxter and Waterman founded the Park Health & Safety Partnership, commonly referred to as Park, bringing together a team of highly experienced occupational hygiene and safety specialists all passionate about ill health prevention, dedicated to helping organisations create best practice health management systems. The organisation’s pioneering 4W approach is still used today and focuses on:

Workplace, ill health prevention – the impact of a person’s work on their health

Worker, clinical intervention – the impact of a person’s health on their work

Wellbeing, health promotion – the use of the workplace to promote health

Wider Community, outreach to workers’ families and the local population - to improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities   

Occupational hygienists at Park embed themselves firmly into the health and safety teams on the projects they work on, implementing recommendations on site and managing them in real time. This goes beyond conventional expectations of occupational hygienists, where they visit a site once, make recommendations and leave a report for the employer to implement.  Core skills include anticipation and recognition of hazards to health that may result in injury, illness or affect wellbeing of workers, utilising expertise to prevent and control hazards.

Keeping An Eye: Casella monitoring equipment

Monitoring equipment is used by Park consultants on a daily basis, for work they are completing on some of the most high profile construction projects in the UK.  Casella’s personal dust sampling pumps and noise dosimeters help consultants to identify potential health hazards and later, to provide data evidence of the effectiveness of recommended control measures.

Commenting on Casella’s equipment and its application in day to day processes, James Barnes, occupational hygienist at Park said “The main feature I look for in equipment is robustness, and Casella’s equipment is exactly that.   Accuracy is key for us, and we must have reliable monitoring equipment that maintains a constant flow rate, giving us time to focus on the task in hand, knowing that the monitoring controls are firmly in place.” 

Recently, a high profile tunnelling project involving a spray concrete lining resulted in increased levels of dust in the air. Using data gleaned from Casella’s Apex2 dust sampling pump, Barnes was able to identify this exposure and continue to monitor exposure levels both in the directly affected area and wider working area - ensuring that all sprayers, engineers, plant operators and any other individuals on site did not exceed maximum exposure limit levels.  The decision was made to incorporate an entirely new air management system and dust protection zone to control the exposure. Within a certain distance, employees were instructed to wear dust masks. In addition to this, DeDuster® systems were installed in the area to filter the air.

The new systems resulted in increased noise levels, which James was alerted to instantly using data taken from the dBadge2, Casella’s personal noise dosimeters worn by the workforce, enabling further preventative measures to be implemented. 

Asking workers to wear the monitoring equipment could present some challenges, but its ease of use enables James to ensure workers are fully included in the process, explaining what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how the equipment works. 

“This ensures that workers do not feel we are checking up on them; instead, doing all we can to ensure their exposures are kept to an absolute minimum”, Barnes commented.  If the monitoring equipment does identify a particular issue or concern, the occupational hygienist on site will run a toolbox talk to explain the results in greater detail, producing a short summary that can be put in a public place, ensuring everyone in the team feels included – a fantastic morale booster.

Real Time Monitoring

Casella’s monitoring equipment is created to improve the working environment for employees, utilising technology to provide robust data, assisting the process of keeping exposure levels to a minimum, ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations.  Park has been using this equipment since the organisation started.

Commenting on James and his team’s use of the Casella equipment, Tim Turney, technical product manager at Casella said “Park consultants using our dust and noise monitoring equipment to achieve their industry revered Health Like Safety ™ approach demonstrates how monitoring systems can be effortlessly incorporated as permanent tools within a working environment.   This accessibility is critical. Often, such equipment can be seen as something that simply provides data once and creates a report.  It is great that James and his team are using the equipment constantly to monitor the environment individuals are working in, changing processes as a result of the findings with individual health an absolute priority.”

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Noise Monitoring for Millennials

By 2031, 20% of the population are predicted to suffer from hearing loss, costing the UK economy £25 billion. Workplace hearing loss is a serious concern, with approximately, 20,000 people working last year suffering from noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), both new and longstanding cases.

Noise exposure recently became a national debate, with the chimes of Big Ben being stopped to protect workers’ hearing whilst renovation work is completed. This sparked controversy among members of the public and Parliament, raising concern about the iconic landmark being silenced for four years. Currently, a health and safety investigation is underway, exploring the affects of noise exposure on workers health and if alternative methods could be used to avoid silencing the clock.

Evidence highlights further education about the importance of preventing noise exposure in the workplace is essential to improving the statistics. It might be simple to provide training and education to the whole workforce about the importance of protecting hearing but if millennials aren’t in tune with health and safety generally, how do you change behaviour?

NIHL: Who is at risk?
Industries with the highest incidences of NIHL include manufacturing, construction, energy and mining due to tools and machinery used. Whilst hearing protection is vital for all employees working in noisy conditions, risks should still be controlled and longer term solutions implemented to reduce employee exposure. Monitoring could upskill workers with the knowledge to monitor their own health, as well as the health of their colleagues.

Currently, 15 to 24 year olds are 40% more likely to sustain injuries than older colleagues. [1] Alarmingly, 33% of millennials have no idea what to do in a hazardous situation, whereas 92% of older workers do not put themselves at risk.[2] Adhering to health and safety policies is a universal responsibility in the workplace and if younger workers fail to follow advice, this could seriously affect their wellbeing and hearing in the future.

Millennial attitudes towards health and safety make for uncomfortable reading with 27% of millennials not following safety procedures, despite 56% having read health and safety guidance. [3] This suggests a large proportion of younger workers could be putting their hearing at risk, whilst the older generation may also be affected. Monitoring programmes could protect the whole workforce, engaging workers to embrace smart technologies, thinking proactively about their health.

Methods in monitoring
In the workplace, millennials are more likely to share data and use technologies. [4] With the younger generation embracing technological innovations that have altered lives irrevocably, integrating monitoring solutions could be an effective way of changing their behavior and attitudes towards health and safety.

There are two monitoring solutions that can be used to measure noise exposure such as a sound level meter, which is a handheld device and measurements are taken at the ear, with the monitor pointing at the source of noise. The other type is a dosimeter. This is a personal monitoring solution, bodily worn by workers to measure individual exposure.

Implementing the use of monitoring solutions could be key in helping employers control noise levels and comply to the 2005, Control of Noise Regulations. The regulations stipulate noise should not exceed 85 decibels and at this level, hearing protection must be provided and the risks to workers assessed. When noise levels reach 80 decibels, which is the average level for a factory, extra information and training must be given.[5]

When reading noise levels, ‘action’ and ‘exposure’ levels should be assessed. Action levels in noise monitoring exist in two forms. Firstly, measurements must be taken based on a workers’ average exposure over a working day. This protects employees from damage to hearing over the span of their working lives.

Secondly, instantaneous damage can occur to hearing from high levels of impulsive noise. Damage caused from this type of exposure can result in a ‘ringing’ sound in the ears. If there is a risk of this type of exposure, then peak noise levels should also be monitored and recorded.

Incidences of NIHL and the statistics showing millennials’ attitudes towards health and safety is a dangerous mix that does not bode well for the future. Monitoring could be the solution to engaging the younger generation, encouraging them to take notice of their health and safety, before it is too late.

Tim Turney, Technical Product Manager Casella

Discover our range of noise monitoring solutions


This article was first published in December 2017 edition of Safety Management Magazine

[1] https://www.shponline.co.uk/young-likely-injured-work-older-colleagues/

[2] http://shieldsafety.co.uk/infographic-millennials-in-health-safety/

[3] http://shieldsafety.co.uk/infographic-millennials-in-health-safety/

[4] https://www.pwc.co.uk/issues/data-analytics/insights/discover-the-possibilities-of-wearable-technology-in-the-workplace.html

[5] http://www.industrialnoisecontrol.com/comparative-noise-examples.htm

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Monitoring for Respiratory Hazards – Challenges and Opportunities in the Workplace

Of the “Top 10” OSHA Standards that were cited in 2017, Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134) ranked Fourth - after Fall Protection, Hazard Communication and Scaffolding. In General Industry standards, only Hazard Communication citation was more prevalent.

Now with the new Construction Standard for Silica, (29 CFR 1926.1153) requiring employers to limit exposure of this very common material, you can be sure more citations are going to be happening. In fact, it was reported in Summer 2018 that a contractor was recently cited for wilful and serious violations of the new rule for which their State’s OSHA Compliance office has proposed a $300,000+ fine. 

Why so much emphasis on Respiratory Exposures?

Occupational exposure to deadly chemical and physical agents typically occurs through one of the three common routes: Inhalation, Ingestion, and Absorption. Of these pathways into the human body, inhalation is the fastest, since the respiratory system is directly linked to the circulatory system. Thus, while the process of breathing provides us with the oxygen we need to survive, many of the contaminants that are in the air we may breathe at a worksite are in a form that allows them to be deposited deep into the lungs. Since exposure to these contaminants are not always able to be removed through engineering controls, and administrative controls become restrictive to production, PPE in the form of multiple kinds and types of Respirators is a commonplace solution.

Among the most cited standards, Respiratory Protection can easily be described as perhaps the most complicated and one that presents uniquely diverse challenges to the Occupational Safety and Health Professional. When it comes to understanding the risks, quantifying exposure levels and implementing the controls needed to ensure a safe workplace for all employees under their areas of responsibility, there are literally thousands of physical and chemical agents, which can cause occupational illnesses.


The Importance (and Challenges) of Monitoring Exposures

The extremely wide range of chemical, physical and even biological agents which can cause serious harm to workers spans across all industries and occupations, from those working in manufacturing and service industries to workers in agriculture, oil & gas production, chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing to first responders.

As such, the more you know about how to detect and monitor for the presence of these bad actors the better prepared you and your workers will be to prevent illness, injury or death. For the proper selection of PPE it becomes extremely important to monitor for and/or sample the exposure levels of these airborne contaminants wherever possible, using various NIOSH approved methods.

For an injurious or deadly material to be inhaled it must be an airborne contaminant of certain characteristics - and a human must be in the process of breathing in the contaminated atmosphere without appropriate PPE to filter out or otherwise neutralize the hazardous agent.

What to Monitor: Types of Airborne Materials Encountered in the Workplace

Gases and Vapors - These substances exist formless state that commingles with air to create a harmful breathing environment. Examples of toxic gases are hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, and chlorine. Vapors diffuse into a substance in a gaseous state but may be a solid or liquid at room temperature. Examples of vapors are methylene chloride, toluene, and mineral spirits.  

Mists – Typically, these are suspended droplets of liquid caused by condensation from gas to the liquid or by disturbing a liquid into a dispersed condition through atomizing. Examples of mists are paint mists and oil mists. 

Fumes – These are solid particles generated by condensation of vaporized material, usually after volatilization from molten metals. Examples of fume generating processes include welding, brazing, and smelting. Examples of materials existing in fume form are lead, zinc, manganese and hexavalent chromium.

  • Dust - Particulate matter of various sizes, which can be generated from processes such as grinding, blasting, or mixing. Examples of common harmful dust materials are coal, silica and wood. 
  • Fibers - Fibers are solid particles with an aspect ratio (length to width, or diameter) of 3:1. Examples of harmful fibers include but are not limited to asbestos and fiberglass.

With such a diversity of physical characteristics, the categories shown here present multiple challenges for exposure assessment – there is no single sampling technique or direct reading instrument that can be used to measure levels of these airborne respirable hazards accurately and repeatable. Fortunately, a wide range of solutions exists and must be carefully considered when you are asked to present findings of exposure for any one or more of these hazards.

Chemical hazards in the form of gases and mists are quickly taken into the body through the respiratory system. Once there, these compounds can be transferred directly to the circulatory system and distributed throughout the body to disrupt vital cellular bio-chemical processes, becoming an IDLH Threat – Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health - often resulting in death, such as Carbon Monoxide or H2S ‘poisoning’.

Other chemical agents may attack other tissues of the body with less immediate but still devastating results. For example, there are many common substances which can be inhaled that are known Neurotoxins, these include many solvents and fumes which cause nerve cell death with consequences ranging from impaired brain function (Lead poisoning) to Ototoxin-induced Hearing Loss from exposure to organic solvents such as Toluene which kill the sensory nerve cells of the inner ear.


Monitoring for Gases and Vapors –

The development of direct reading gas monitors for measuring serious IDLH conditions such as toxic or explosive levels of Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Sulfide and even Chlorine has made exposure assessment relatively straightforward, so you can rent or purchase a personal or area gas monitor that, when properly calibrated can accurately measure and track concentration levels of gas exposure throughout the work shift.

Unfortunately, most real-time gas monitors can only measure 5 or 6 of the most common inorganic gases you may encounter, such as CO, H2S, and perhaps also measure total concentration of VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). There are around a dozen or more gases which real-time monitors do very well with, but that leaves literally hundreds of other compounds which must be sampled and analyzed by other means. That said, real-time gas monitors are an invaluable, if somewhat limited tool in use by virtually every OH&S professional for their ability to detect, datalog and document exposures to many gas and vapor compounds.


Sampling for Gases, Vapors and Mists –

Suppose you were working with a range of chemical materials like Iso-cyanates, Methylene Chloride or other organic compounds whose levels could not be easily quantified by a gas monitor. What then? The use of a Personal Air Sampling Pump is required.

By attaching a ‘Sorbent Tube’ (a precisely sized glass column that is filled with activated charcoal, to which the various long-chain polymers and other difficult to measure chemicals will adhere) to the pump inlet, you can draw workplace air, with all its contaminating agents through the sorbent media at a set flow rate and for a prescribed time (which are documented in the NIOSH Manual) in order to physically capture a representative sample of the air the workers may be exposed to.

After the sample is taken, it is analyzed using a Gas Chromatograph, High Pressure Liquid Chromatography or Atomic Adsorption Analyzer to determine each compound and its precise concentration level. This can be compared to the allowable TWA (Time-Weighted Average) of exposure for each compound and then appropriate action to reduce exposure through controls or facilitate the selection of the correct type of Respirator to protect the worker.

There are some compounds which cannot be best sampled by using a sorbent tube, and in its place, a device called an ‘impinger’ is used to collect the sample – this is a liquid media through which the sample gas is passed, and the type of adsorbent liquid is specific to the gas or family of gases that need to be measured. 


Monitoring for Dusts and Fumes

As with gases, dust concentrations can be measured in two very different ways, one that gives you a ‘real-time’ indication of the levels that are present, and can record results in a second-by second logging function for download – which is extremely useful for understanding the patterns of personal exposure to dust throughout the day, or by capturing a physical sample using a Personal Sampling Pump for later analysis through varying means and methods.


Capturing what counts - Size Matters

Not all airborne materials are considered a respirable agent. When it comes to dust, the size of the individual particles determines if they are dangerous enough to be respirated deeply into the lungs, thus creating either an immediate threat to the worker’s cardiovascular condition by passing from the lungs directly into the bloodstream, as in the case of ultrafine metal particles (as demonstrated by NISOH) or a long-term high probability of developing a devastating and debilitating illness such as Mesothelioma (Asbestos-related cancer) or Silicosis.

The three categories of dust are respirable, thoracic, and inhalable. Each type of dust exists in the air we breathe; the only difference between them is the diameter of the dust particle. Respirable dust particles are under 10 microns, thoracic dust particles are under 25 microns, and inhalable dust particles are under 100 microns in diameter. The sampling method varies, depending upon the type of dust to be evaluated. The use of a ‘Cyclone’ – a precisely designed and crafted chamber which uses the effect of centrifugal force to allow larger non-respirable particles to be cast out, leaving only respirable particles behind.

Those respirable particles, 10 microns or smaller are then captured on a filter which is housed in a ‘cassette’ or cylindrical holder so that the material collected can be weighed and analyzed for its chemical makeup. A variety of methods are used for determining the chemical and material properties of the dust sample, including examination under an electron microscope for ‘speciating’ or classifying different types of asbestos fibers, which have different carcinogenic properties.  


Real-time dust measurement versus sampling

A Real-time Dust Monitor typically uses an optical ‘forward light-scattering’ technique to determine the relative concentration of total dust passing through its sensor beam. The real advantage of a real-time monitor over a sampling pump for estimating personal exposures is that it gives a highly resolved picture of how the dust concentrations intensify or decrease with activities performed by the worker – for example, opening a barrel of granulated raw material and mixing it with another could produce very high levels of dust exposure for a short period of time. A sample pump, on the other hand, would be running continuously throughout the shift to be able to measure the TWA value of exposure. If that TWA were above the allowable PEL for the material in use, it could be because the levels were SO high during the mixing operation that the resulting TWA indicates a respirator should be worn throughout the work shift. In this example, however, a case could be made by using a real-time dust monitor in addition to the sample pump, that the respirator need be worn only during the mixing operation. This may well ensure better worker compliance when knowing they are only required to wear PPE during truly hazardous work tasks, if other controls cannot be put in place to reduce the exposure.


In conclusion:

Monitoring and sampling for Dusts, Gases, Vapors and Mists should be a part of any personal exposure assessment initiative and is not only accepted practice, it represents best practice when done correctly. Air sampling using a Personal Sampling pump can give highly accurate results but do not give time-resolved analysis of when and how the exposures occur, and this is true for all the airborne material classifications we have described here.

It is sometimes difficult to know in advance the more optimal monitoring method – and often, the combination of the two approaches gives a better overall result. If in doubt, always consult an Industrial Hygienist, and don’t forget to use the equipment manufacturer as a knowledge base and active resource for choosing the right sampling and monitoring methods.

One thing is certain – disregarding OSHA Compliance requirements for limiting exposures for all regulated respirable hazards would be foolish and very hazardous to the well-being and health of your business as well as that of your workers. 

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Combustible Dust Explosions: Are You At Risk?

Thinking about combustible dust explosions and coal dust, grain storage and flour mills will immediately spring to mind because they make primetime news. However, any workplace that generates dust is potentially at risk to dust explosions, including:

  • Agriculture
  • Chemicals
  • Food (e.g. candy, sugar, spice, starch, flour, feed)
  • Grain elevators, bins and silos
  • Fertiliser
  • Tobacco
  • Plastics
  • Woodworking Facilities
  • Furniture
  • Paper
  • Tire and rubber manufacturing
  • Textiles
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Metal poder processing or storage (especially magnesium and aluminium)

Dust is created when materials are transported, handled, processed, polished, ground and shaped. Dust can also form from abrasive blasting, cutting, crushing, mixing, sifting or screening dry materials. The build-up of dried residue from the processing of wet materials can also generate dust.  Levels of dust in the workplace continues to increase from such daily activity, which is why employers need to stay vigilant to the amounts of dust in the workplace in order to protect workers from hazardous incidents and the potential detrimental consequences. 

Employers are reminded of the importance to efficiently monitor dust levels from the severity of combustible dust explosions over the last few years. In 2014, a fatal combustible dust blast in a Chinese processing facility left 75 people killed and 185 severely injured.[1] The blast is one of many that has affected China recently with an incident in 2012 in the city of Wenzhou killing 13[2]. On top  of the explosive risk, there is the risk additional risk to health at much lower levels of exposure. In the United Kingdom during 2015-2016, 13,000 deaths were reported as a result of past exposures at work, primarily to chemicals and dust.[3]

With such risks to employee safety and health, what can employers do to reduce the risk of a combustible dust explosion? The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002[4] set out the minimum requirements for improving health and safety protection within potentially explosive atmospheres through the safe handling and use of dangerous substances. In accordance with the regulations, it is the employers responsibility to protection employees from these risks to their safety in the workplace. Employers need to identify where explosive atmosphere conditions occur and to assess the risk and record what actions are being taken to prevent an explosion and fire.[5]

So, what are the conditions that employers need to assess to prevent a combustible dust explosion? A dust explosion can only occur when the following five factors are present:

  • Fuel, in the form of dust particles
  • Dispersion of the fuel in the form of a dust cloud
  • Oxygen in the form of air
  • Confinement of the dust cloud in the form of a container (e.g. a dust collector)
  • A source of ignition

There There are a number of ways Dispersion can occur, such as a dry filter being pulse cleaned[1]  or from an initial (primary) explosion in processing equipment, causing a blast wave that disturbs accumulated dust that, if ignited, causes a secondary explosion. The latter is often far more destructive than a primary explosion due to the increased quantity of dispersed dust.


Should monitoring dust concentration also be part of the mitigation? 

Undertaking a walk-through survey using a hand-held, real-time sampler would give instantaneous indication of concentration.  It could also be used to check the effectiveness of control measures such as local exhaust ventilation e.g. pre and post filter.

Industrial hygienists may already be undertaking personal monitoring for toxic or sensitizing dusts and the same air-sampling pump could be used in combination with a real-time sampler when housed in a robust, portable case, on an unattended, short-term basis.                                                                                                                            

Such a system can provide concentration using a gravimetric filter but also a time history profile, which could help identify the source of the problem.

Fixed, AC powered solutions could also be used on a continuous basis for high-risk areas.  These have the advantage that the data can be made available remotely using a web-based interface.  These systems provide real-time alerts via text message or an email should limits be exceeded. Reports can easily be automated and sent to multiple users, which allows an early intervention to avoid a potential problem.

Great care should be taken in hazardous atmospheres that may require instrumentation to be intrinsically safe or require a hot-work permit and, action thresholds should always be set at a fraction of the Lower Explosion Limit (LEL) for the dust in question.  However, if there is any doubt whatsoever, ensure that you speak to the relevant site manager or supervisor that have responsibility for risk assessment and permitting and who can advise accordingly.

Dust explosions continue to be a persistent problem for many industries resulting in loss of life, injuries and destruction of property.  Even those individuals most highly trained, including government enforcement officials, insurance underwriters and company safety professionals often lack awareness of combustible dust hazards. MSDS are also ineffective in communicating to employers and workers the hazards of combustible dust explosions and ways to prevent them.  This is all the more reason for all employees to have a basic awareness of the hazards of dust explosions and the best way to mitigate those risks.



[1] http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/article/79640/Hundreds-of-factories-closed-after-fatal-China-combustible-dust-blast.aspx

[2] http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/79640/Hundreds-of-factories-closed-after-fatal-china-combustible-dust-blast.aspx

[3] http://www.healthandsafetyevents.co.uk/page_883252.asp

[4] http://www.hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion/dsear.htm

[5] http://www.willis.co.uk/documents/Knowledge/Willis%20Risk%20Insight%20-%20The%20Dangers%20of%20Combustible%20Dust.pdf 

[6] Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions. Safety and Health Information Bulletin SHIB 07-31-2005; updated 11-12-2014

Tim Turney is Technical Product Manager at Casella and graduated as an engineer from Queen Mary and Westfield in London. Since starting at Casella in 1998, Tim has been involved in the acousitcs and air sampling industry, specialising in measurement and instrumentation technologies. 

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To App or Not to App?

Following the Development of Sound Level Meter Apps

The smartphone is one of the technological developments that has taken the world by storm over the last decade. Statistics released in June 2016 forecast the number of smartphone users to grow from 2.1 billion in 2016 to around 2.5 billion in 2019, with just over 36 percent of the world's population projected to use a smartphone by 2018. In addition, app downloads reached nearly 200 billion in 2017 and are expected to reach over 350 billion by 2021.

It is no surprise, then, that the smartphone is cited by many industrial hygienists as their favorite piece of work equipment. Industrial hygienists can use smartphones to make notes and take photographs while on site, email measurement results to colleagues, access websites for guidance, and even make the occasional phone call.

We’ve Got an App for That?

It should also come as no surprise that there are hundreds of sound level meter apps available. As a manufacturer of professional sound level meters, Casella urges users to exercise some caution (we would say that, wouldn’t we?). But we don’t want to appear Luddite in our actions. (The Luddites were a radical group of English textile workers in the 19th century who destroyed weaving machinery that they believed was threatening their jobs. This was a form of protest against the use of machinery in a "fraudulent and deceitful manner" to get around standard labor practices.) Buying instrumentation that claims to meet a standard is already a case of “buyer beware.” Products often only get “found out” when tested by a capable, ISO 17025-approved verification laboratory.

Indeed, there are many benefits of using an app with common tools of the industrial hygiene trade. For example, apps used with noise dosimeters or personal air sampling pumps can warn of low battery or a failed measurement and can run remotely from a discrete distance without having to disturb the worker. This improves the productivity of both the industrial hygienist and worker alike; there is nothing worse than having to repeat a measurement or miss a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity.

A Look at NIOSH’s App

The NIOSH Sound Level Meter app is one such potentially game-changing development. Its objectives are to be applauded; the app raises awareness of noise among workers and also draws attention to the need to control the use of such apps. To be compliant, NIOSH points out that users need a phone with an external microphone capable of being field calibrated for microphone sensitivity (using an equally compliant acoustic calibrator).

NIOSH was quite right to go down the iOS route because the accuracy of many Android phones cannot be guaranteed. However, the agency’s development may be short-lived given the lack of an external socket on new iPhones. Plus, there are many places where workers and visitors are not permitted to use a mobile phone for security or safety reasons (for example, in hazardous atmospheres that require devices to be intrinsically safe).

In an update published on the NIOSH Science Blog in June 2018, the agency stated that “researchers have evaluated the [NIOSH] app’s performance as part of a system (iPhone + external microphone) for compliance with type 2 requirements of IEC 61672/ANSI S1.4 standard Sound Level Meters – Part 3: Periodic Tests,” and that the results were published in the journal Applied Acoustics. The article abstract states:

Smartphones have evolved into powerful devices with computing capabilities that rival the power of personal computers. Any smartphone can now be turned into a sound-measuring device because of its built-in microphone. The ubiquity of these devices allows the noise measuring apps to expand the base of people being able to measure noise.

Many sound measuring apps exist on the market for various mobile platforms, but only a fraction of these apps achieve sufficient accuracy for assessing noise levels, let alone be used as a replacement for professional sound level measuring instruments.

In this paper, we present methods and results of calibrating our in-house developed Noise sound level meter app according to relevant ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) sound level meter standards. The results show that the sound level meter app and an external microphone can achieve compliance with most of the requirements for Class 2 of IEC 61672/ANSI S1.4-2014 standard.

This begs the question: is meeting “most of the requirements” good enough, and do you want to expand the base of people who are able to make measurements? The acid test for the app would be a full type approval as required, for example, in Spain, where—under a quirk of their legal metrology legalization that applies to weighing scales and taxi meters, among other things—sound level meters, noise dosimeters, and acoustic calibrators are required to be type approved before being put on the market (with a substantial penalty for breaches). Notwithstanding the instrument compliance issue, there are all kinds of measurement do’s and don’ts that users have to be aware of. Sometimes, training or professional certification is required.

Upping the App Game

Now that the “genie app” is out of the bottle, perhaps it is time to consider resurrecting the Class 3 indicator grade that existed in long-forgotten ANSI and British standards of the 1970s. This would be fair to instrument manufacturers who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on product development as well as in-house and third-party verification testing for Class 1 and 2 compliance. Data from a Class 3 instrument would be inadmissible in support of a claim for noise-induced hearing loss, but it would be useful for the intended purpose of the app: increasing awareness for the 30 million American workers who remain at risk from damaged hearing. (Let us not forget what is really important here!)

For their part, professional sound level meter manufacturers need to up their game. There are plenty of us around to ensure healthy competition and compliance, which in turn leads to innovation and increased customer value.




Applied Acoustics: “Smartphone-based sound level measurement apps: Evaluation of compliance with international sound level meter standards” (October 2018).

Health & Safety Matters: “Day in the Life of …"

NIOSH: NIOSH Sound Level Meter App (August 2017).

NIOSH Science Blog: “So How Accurate Are These Smartphone Sound Measurement Apps?” (April 2014).

Spanish Royal Decree 889/2006 and ORDER ITC/2845/2007 (PDF), which regulate the metrological control of the State of the instruments intended for audible sound measurement and acoustic calibration (translation).

Statista: “Number of smartphone users worldwide from 2014 to 2020 (in billions)” (June 2016).

Tom’s Guide: “The New iPhones Have Truly Killed the Headphone Jack” (September 2018).?

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Respirable dust is considered anything below 10µm in size. This particulate is high risk because it penetrates deeply into the lungs. Respirable hazards for dust come from many dusts within the workplace and for that matter the environment. Particulate matter of various sizes can be generated from processes such as grinding, blasting, or mixing. Examples of common harmful dust materials are coal, silica and wood. This article looks at cyclones, commonly used when sampling for respirable dusts and discusses points to be aware of in their use.

Air sampling for respirable dusts

The normal method for sampling respirable fractions of dusts within the workplace is using a personal sampling pump which draws a volume of air at an accurate flow rate. The pump is normally worn on the belt and connected to a tube to a sampling head worn within the ‘breathing zone’, that is close to the mouth, such that the air sampled best represents the air we breathe. The sampling heads take various forms for sampling dusts depending on the type of particulate being sampled. The dust itself is then collected on a filter within the head, typically made from glass fibre. Glass fibre is typically used because it has a very high collection efficiency, even at very small particle sizes.

About cyclones

For respirable dust, a sampling head called a cyclone is used to remove specific size fractions of dust. The use of a ‘Cyclone’ – a precisely designed and crafted chamber which uses the effect of centrifugal force to allow larger non-respirable particles to be cast out, leaving only respirable particles behind.

The larger particles fall into a ‘grit pot’, leaving the respirable fraction to be collected on the filter. These cyclones have a collection efficiency often referred to as the D50, that is defined by the median particle size, which in the case of cyclones is 4µm.

Flow affecting measurement

The flow rate is very important to get the right size cut i.e. D50. During development of the cyclones, in depth research is performed to ensure that the cyclones get the correct size cut and this is dependent on flow rate. Each cyclone will have a specific air flow rate and the cyclone will only get the correct size cut when run at that exact flow rate.

Orientation is also a consideration when wearing the cyclone. Cyclones should be worn vertically for the cyclone to operate effectively, therefore it is often best to allow them to be clipped in a single position, allowing them to hang loose when the person wearing them is moving around. Ensure also that after the measurement, the cyclone is not ‘tipped’ over, which would allow some contents of the grit pot to pass through to the filter, drastically affecting sample weight.

Variation in Flow

Air sampling pumps therefore have to provide a very steady flow rate. Flow rates for the Casella manufactured ‘Higgins Dewell’ cyclone above are required at 2.2L/min. This air sampling head has been around for many years and academic papers have compared and proved that this design of cyclone correlates to the standard respirable curve defined by EN 481.

Different cyclones have different designs and flow rates to provide the same respirable size cut, therefore the flow rate may change for each design. You should check with the manufacturer of the cyclone you are using in order to verify that the flow rate used is correct. It has been the case recently that a manufacturer of cyclones updated their recommended flowrate based on upon the latest research. This research showed one manufacturers cyclone oversampled by 30% and the recommended flow rate had to be changed from 2.2L/min to 3.0L/min to provide the correct size cut.

On the Pulse

Flow rate is a key consideration when using cyclones, but another factor is the little known issue of pulsation. The sample air enters the cyclone and begins to rotate and descend downwards. As it spins the larger particle sizes follow a trajectory whereby they are effectively spun outwards to the wall surface and drop out by a process known as inertial impaction. The smaller sized particles (of interest) remain suspended in the central vortex airflow which carries them upwards and out of the cyclone to the filter media.  The rotational velocity and hence flow rate are critical factors in determining the cyclones size cut.  Pulsations in the flow alter the effective size cut and various research(1&2) papers have shown that the pulsations from some sampling pumps affect the cyclones collection penetration by over 10%.  Respirable sampling guidance notes from international bodies (such as NIOSH 0600 and HSE MDHS14-4) identify the importance of using a known low pulsation level. An international standard, ISO 13137 defines the Requirements and Test Specifications for personal Air Sampling pumps in respect to details such as flow stability and maximum pulsation level.

A twin head diaphragm pump has flow pulsations at twice the rotation frequency and at typically half the magnitude of a single headed pump, however, airflow pulsation is an unavoidable consequence of any diaphragm pump.  By good damper design, the amplitude of flow pulsations can be minimised, but never fully eliminated.

Some sampling pumps lack effective pulsation damping. Whilst this may be irrelevant to some sampling strategies, in a size selective sampling application this can lead to undesirable sampling errors. Personal air sampling pumps from different manufactures have pulsation levels that vary drastically, with some models up to 70%(1), well above the required value of less than 10%.  Therefore a sampling pump with a pulsation level of <10% should be selected when sampling for respirable dust using a cyclone. An example of this is Casella’s Apex2.

For the first time, a flow meter can automatically and reliably warn of pulsation levels exceeding 10% (according to ISO13137).  The Casella flow meter, called the Flow Detective, gives a warning when the pulsation is above 10%, where the measurement accuracy will begin to reduce and it is recommended that efforts are made to reduce the pulsation levels.

Being aware of a high pulsation level makes it possible to take precautions such as adding an additional flow dampener to the sample line, operating the pump with longer and more flexible tubing, operating with a higher inlet pressure loading to reduce pulsation level, or use a different sampling pump!


Cyclones are a long trusted and validated method for measuring respirable dust. A number of factors can affect their use including flow rate, pulsation, orientation and handling. Being aware of the issues and ensuring consistent use of the cyclone and sample will provide improved and repeatable air sampling data.


Literature References

The Annals of Occupational Hygiene - Journals –NCBI Publications, “Evaluation of Pump Pulsation in Respirable Size-Selective Sampling”: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4607266/pdf/nihms726843.pdf

The effect of flow pulsations on the performance of cuclone personal respirable dust sampler: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pll/002185029190082S


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Pumps vs Real Time Measurements; No Time Like the Present

Hands up to all those who can remember a time before the personal air sampler (PAS)? Not many I guess, but then they only do commerically date back to the early 1960's in Europe and the US, at a time when the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) only had a few hundred members.

The history of personal air sampling instrumentation

The personal sampling pump was developed under contract for the US Bureau of Mines in 1957, at almost the exact time researchers in the UK nuclear industry had also developed a prototype device, housing it in an old bicycle lamp. The prototype was later commercialised by Casella and featured a rechargable NiCad battery but with the recent deployment of Lithium Ion batteries in a PAS, gone are the days of memory effect and self-discharge which were the cause of so many aborted samples.

Commenting in 2003, Professor John Cherrie, said that "the development of the personal sampling head heralded the beginning of modern occupational (industrial) hygiene and provided the foundation for a proper scientific underpinning of professional practice". It is hard to imagine that something was so pivotal is now somewhat taken for granted within the industry.

However, the same potential design compromises that existed 60 years ago still largely exists today and design engineers often feel that 'something has to give' in one or more performance features. This can be particularly true when when trying to meet intrinsic safety (IS) requirements as evidenced by the delay between the launch of non-IS and eventually IS versions.  A 2008 French report (2) gave some insight into the various performance characteristics of a number of medium flow PAS i.e. with a flow rate <5L/min and proffered a calculation method whereby each performance element was scored (1-5) and multiplied by a weighting (0-3) depending on whether the characteristic had no importance (0) through to critical (3). The resulting overall total then influenced the optimal choice of pump for any given application. 

An update to the performance study against the latest pump standard, ISO 13137: 2013 (3) is due to be published later this year and it will be interesting to see which makes the cut, no pun intended. When you purchase a pump, you tend to focus on ensuring that the pump has efficient back pressure and accurate flow control. However, one little known area of performance is that of pulsation, which a series of NIOSH reports (4) highlighted in 2014.  The ISO standard states that “the pulsation shall not exceed 10% of the flow rate” but what is pulsation and why is it so important? 

Pulsation explained

With every cycle of the pump, air is drawn in and expelled simultaneously and this process of reciprocation causes an uneven flow through the sampling train. Pulsation is the measure of the difference in airflow between cycles shown by this calculation.


f(t)                                            is the volume flow rate over time (t) in L/min

f (with dash overhead)         is the mean volume flow over time (T)

t                                                is the time in seconds (s)

T                                               is the time period of the pulsation (s) Figure 1: Calculation of pulsation


A large pulsation value means that the size cut performance of the cyclones used can be affected because their performance is flow rate dependent. In addition, less sample is collected using pumps that generate significant pulsation (5). As a result, many manufacturers have included pulsation dampeners into their designs to regulate the flow. But, despite this design feature, the NIOSH paper showed that the majority of manufacturers were not able to meet the ±10% requirement with some having pulsation values of over 70% (one notable exception being the original Casella Apex). The paper argued a case for relaxation of the standard to ±25% stating that, “A 10% criterion as currently specified in the European standards for testing may be overly restrictive and not able to be met by many pumps on the market”.  The European standard in question was EN1232:1997 , which has been withdrawn and replaced by ISO 13137: 2013. By this time the US had already ‘signed up’ to the latter, so manufacturers simply have to work harder to meet the standard with regards to pulsation control with the use of effective dampening!

The good news is that what was once a laboratory test for pulsation can now be performed in the field at the same time as a normal flow rate calibration, through a newly introduced proprietary airflow calibrator. Bluetooth® connectivity is another recent development, which means that the whole calibration process can be automated using a dedicated phone App saving time and increasing confidence in the calibration results.  Likewise, when deployed, a Bluetooth capable pump can be interrogated remotely from a discrete distance meaning that the worker does not have to be disturbed and the Industrial Hygienist can have confidence that they are getting a valid sample.

However, as Professor Cherrie highlighted, the heyday of measuring personal exposure to hazardous substances may have already passed.  So rather like the combination of a sound level meter and a noise dosimeter, a hand-held instrument measuring in real-time is a perfect partner for the trusty PAS.

There is a limited number of hand-held, real-time instruments on the market which measure concentration by detecting the amount of light scattered when dust particles are present in the instrument’s sample chamber.  As one design engineer put it, it is rather like trying to weigh somebody with a torch but, despite this shortcoming, the instruments are ideally suited for walkthrough surveys of ambient and indoor workplace environments prior to the deployment of pumps.  Care should be taken in interpreting results because they typically measure total dust rather than a respirable or inhalable fraction.

Like all photometer type dust meters, the optical measurement of dust concentration is an indirect method i.e. there is no direct relationship of light scatter to mass. There are a number of properties of dust particles, which affect the intensity and angles of the scattered light namely:

  • Particle size & shape
  • The refractive index of the particle
  • The color of the particle

Calibration is an important factor to consider. Factory calibration is normally carried out in a wind tunnel using ISO 12103-1 (6) reference dust but in some proprietary instruments each probe is additionally supplied with its own unique calibration insert. This creates a known optical scattering effect in the probe’s sampling chamber.  This fixed reference can be used to confirm the original factory calibration point and check the instrument’s linearity.  Ideally, the instrument should be calibrated against the actual dust type and local conditions and this can be achieved using a gravimetric adaptor and then simply entering a calibration factor. 

Comparative measurements such as those testing the effectiveness of filters in a local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems is another application where real-time instruments are an effective tool for the Industrial Hygienist in checking the effectiveness of controls. So what does the future hold?  We like to think of PAS and (noise dosimeters) as the original wearable technology, which we hear so much about today.  Pumps may have reached maturity but connectivity combined with real-time sensor development surely points the way.


  1. The Beginning of the Science Underpinning Occupational Hygiene, Cherrie, J.W., The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Volume 47, Issue 3, 1 April 2003, Pages 179–185
  2. Perfomances des pompes de prelevement individual, Langlois et al, INRS, 2008
  3. ISO 13137:2013 Workplace Atmospheres: Pumps for personal sampling of chemical and biological agents: Requirements and test methods.
  4. Evaluation of Pump Pulsation in Respirable Size-Selective Sampling: Part II. Changes in Sampling Efficiency, Eun Gyung Lee, Taekhee Lee et al.   Ann. OCcup.Hyg, 2014, Vol.58,
    No1, 74-84
  5. Anderson et al 1971, Lamonica and Treaftis, 1972, Caplan et al 1973, Blachman and Lippmann 1974, McCawley and Roder, 1975.
  6. ISO 12103-1 Road vehicles -- Test contaminants for filter evaluation -- Part 1: Arizona test dust


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“If music be the food of love, play on,” William Shakespeare wrote in the play “Twelfth Night.” Indeed, the emotional swell of an orchestra is a wonderful thing to experience. But for musicians, high noise levels during rehearsals and performances could subject them to excessive noise exposure, which could lead to irreversible noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and/or incurable tinnitus. A March 2018 landmark legal case at an Opera House in the UK, could send metaphorical shockwaves across the industry.

As an occupational hazard the issue of noise is becoming more of a priority across sectors including construction and food manufacturing. However, professional musicians still suffer at an alarming rate – perhaps unsurprisingly, more so than the general population. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force for all industry sectors in Great Britain on 6 April 2006, but the regulation came in force in the music and entertainment sectors on 6th April 2008.[1] Musicians can be reluctant to protect their hearing – thinking that it won’t happen to them. The biggest problem with the condition is that once it occurs, the damage is permanent. Occupational exposures are in addition to any recreational noise exposures that workers might accumulate from activities such as shooting, attending live music events, or just wearing earphones.

A 2015 survey ran by Help Musicians UK showed that 78% of people who suffered from hearing problems in their career believed that being a musician was the cause.[2] 68% of musicians hadn’t had a hearing test in the last three years. When asked on their experiences with hearing protection, whilst 81% of people believed they should use it, only 67% had ever used any. The long-term nature of noise exposure, which involves a combination of both noise level and exposure time (that is, the concept of a dose), can accumulate and cause hearing impairment over the course of a working lifetime. Some people won’t notice the effects of hearing loss until retirement, but some workers notice it sooner.

The legal action involved a UK High Court judge ruling that a viola player, who was forced to give up his music career after developing “acoustic shock” and irreparable hearing damage from sitting “in the line of fire” of the brass section, could sue his employer. This case established the first legal precedent around the condition in the UK, the 45-year-old musician, has had to move to the countryside with his family for a “quiet life” after losing his high frequency hearing (as typified by the notch) and developing extreme sensitivity to noise, including his own playing.

This is a game-changer for an industry the lawyer described as having “considered itself exempt from the same regulatory requirements as all other sectors because of the artistic nature of its output. This in our view has always been a dismissive view from an industry which creates and sells ‘noise’ as a product.” Undoubtedly, this precedent will trigger other U.K. claims and may encourage class-action lawsuits being brought elsewhere within this international industry.

What’s the answer to NIHL? Education has a part to play in raising awareness, but as Shakespeare put it, “Be great in act, as you have been in thought.” Noise exposure measurements using handheld sound level meters or personal noise dosimeters will provide useful data as part of risk assessments. Modern dosimeters that are connected by Bluetooth to a mobile phone app can be used to monitor measurements from multiple dosimeters remotely without disturbing musicians. Establishing hearing conservation programs when necessary based on the exposure data would mandate musicians’ routine wearing of earplugs. In addition, regular hearing tests would be advisable to check the effectiveness of the controls for overexposure to noise, which is a wholly avoidable problem.

[1] http://www.musicianshearingservices.co.uk/what-we-do/noise-regulations/

[2] https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/news/latest-news/musicians-are-four-times-more-likely-to-suffer-hearing-damag

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The collective movement for solving issues surrounding work related ill health continues to gain momentum, highlighted in the HSE Help GB Work Well Scheme calling for ‘greater awareness of the harm, costs and preventability of the issue’ which should ‘drive collective action to improve health outcomes’. In an effort to raise awareness of dangerous substances in the workplace, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OHSA) has recently launched a ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances campaign’ to promote a culture of risk prevention. The campaign is intended to heighten awareness of risks linked to exposure, targeting workers with specific needs.

Each year, there are 12,000 lung disease deaths estimated to be linked to previous exposures at work. A 2017 HSE report highlighted 18,000 annual incidences of self-reported work-related breathing or lung problems in the previous three year period up from the 10,000 per year actually estimated. Although HSE statistics show that work related deafness incidents have generally gone down since 2008, 20,000 people a year still suffer with work-related hearing problems.

Occupational hygiene BAM Ritchies says it prides itself on being one of the first geotechnical contactors to carry out extensive hygiene monitoring of its workplaces. The company is a division of BAM Nuttall, a £60 million business with 400 employees throughout the UK providing ground engineering services for government, local authority, utilities and public/private companies.

Mark Sherwood has been an occupational hygienist at the company for three years, responsible for dust, noise fumes and vibration monitoring nationally for BAM Ritchies as well as supporting BAM Nuttall. A typical day includes a range of dust assessments, from wood, welding fumes, quarry dust, and respirable crystalline silica. He undertakes personal exposure monitoring across the workforce to control exposure levels and where necessary, provides recommendations with preventative health measures to control any hazards from dust, noise and vibration. Options such as elimination, substitution and engineering controls are explored, or PPE/RPE is recommended from the accurate exposure measurements.

When Mark first started as an occupational hygienist, the workers were curious, asking questions about the equipment, and the reason for it being used. Individuals were interested to learn the results from the monitoring equipment and what the data meant. To ensure Mark was able to establish accurate measurements for dust, noise and vibration exposure, working closely with regulatory limits, he used Casella’s equipment, and still does today.

To adhere to compliance with EH40 2005 workplace exposure limits (WELS) Mark says he uses eight Casella Apex2 personal air sampling pumps to monitor contaminants that may pose a health risk, including hazardous dusts like silica in quarrying or fumes during welding or dust created during evacuation. Noise exposure is measured with the 620 Sound Level Meter and a Noise kit which includes 6 dBadge2 dosimeters for noise at work applications, recording the audio of noisy operations, storing noise dose and performing octave band analysis, as well as general environmental measurement. This ensures regulatory compliance and encourages improvement initiatives to protect worker hearing. This thorough method is said to ensure exposure levels are assessed with the wireless capability via Casella’s Airwave app, meaning monitoring does not need to disturb worker operations and data can be transmitted for assessment and alerting purposes direct to inboxes of nominated personnel.

In safe hands BAM Ritchies prioritises protecting its people. Mark had previously used Casella’s HAVex meter to measure the vibration levels of the tools employers were using to ensure they weren’t over exposed to hand arm vibration during their daily routine. However, a proactive initiative by senior management has since removed vibration tools and the need for monitoring. In the event of there being no alternative method, a request to use a vibration tool requires a Permit to Work system authorised by the appropriate/nominated person.

There are instances where Casella’s noise and dust monitoring equipment has resulted in positive changes across sites around the country. This has included an additional dust extraction system at a material testing laboratory in Scotland to further eliminate risk of substance exposure. Results from noise monitoring at quarries fortified the introduction of higher attenuating hearing protection to ensure workers have the upmost protection, as a precautionary method rather than an essential one. Other sites have also decided to upgrade RPE with the same sentiment of protecting workers as much as possible with the current and future exposure levels being carefully considered.

Through Casella’s equipment, Mark says he is also able combat one of his biggest issues – time. He praises the equipment for providing information that a hygienist is able to interpret and feedback to management in a summary/reporting format. “My work involves me travelling around the country to ensure I meet as many employees as possible and that their working environment does not impact their long-term health. Casella’s equipment enables me to work quickly and efficiently, with the confidence that all appropriate data is being accurately captured.”

The very nature of how Mark’s role is perceived by staff has also completely shifted. Now, individuals instantly understand the value behind what Mark is doing, knowing how the equipment works and the role it plays in protecting them from potential hazards. “I make it a priority to understand different working patterns and movements in a working day so that my role can slot neatly into this. Workers appreciate this as it’s clear their time and tasks are being valued”.

Bam Ritchies says it prides itself on being a company that achieves extraordinary things, pushing boundaries and providing ground engineering solutions that bring engineering to life. Without a healthy workforce this vision cannot be realised. “Casella site monitoring equipment is a crucial part of my everyday kit that I carry everywhere, without fail” said Mark. The company strives to monitor and protect its workforce, and this process has now come full circle, with the workers completely in tune with the benefits and process, collectively working towards a healthy working environment.

This article was first published on SHP Online.

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Noise, vibration, and dust exposure are inevitable on construction sites and are, of course, a major concern for occupational hygienists. The recent focus in both the U.K. and the U.S. has been on respirable crystalline silica, or RCS, which is responsible for tens of thousands of premature deaths each year due to respiratory illnesses. And while the industry looks to mitigate exposure by designing-out or controlling dust, there are still a number of construction roles—including tunnel construction workers, rig operators, concrete finishers, and bricklayers—where exposure to RCS is likely to exceed permissible exposure limits. 

The publication in March of ISO 45001, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, will undoubtedly change the dynamic. It has support from the American Society of Safety Engineers and will bring the management of health and safety in line with standards for environmental management (ISO 14001) and quality management (ISO 9001). “ISO 45001 is one of the most significant developments in workplace safety over the past 50 years, presenting an opportunity to move the needle on reducing occupational safety and health risks,” said Vic Toy, U.S. Technical Advisory Group chair, in a statement. Kathy A. Seabrook, TAG vice chair, stated, “Better management of risk is needed by businesses in every industry to not only protect their human capital, but to achieve growth and sustainability objectives while improving their bottom line.” This will be music to the construction industry’s ears, where margins are notoriously thin. And it should be noted that the standard brings a welcome, equal focus to health as to safety.

Skanska, for example, a construction firm that is completing work on the Kosciuszko Bridge in New York City, is proud to be the first U.S. construction company to achieve certification for both OHSAS 18001, Occupational Health and Safety Management (which will be replaced by ISO 45001) and ISO 14001, Environmental Management. While Skanska claims to have the most comprehensive environmental, health, and safety management program in the industry, in the U.K., the company has stated that it lacked industrial hygiene resources and, hence, sufficient data relating to its workers’ levels of RCS exposure. Still, it is encouraging to see their commitment. Skanska publishes a policy document (PDF) that details how the company actively evaluates and controls employees’ exposure to dust-related workplace risks. The company makes the document available to its supply chain.

Reaching the “long tail” of contractors is going to be an uphill struggle in terms of both education and enforcement. But it also represents a major opportunity for industrial hygiene consultants as well as tool manufacturers such as Hilti, which has worked to highlight the issues and solutions.

Methods for sampling RCS in the air all use a cyclone-based sampling head and the ubiquitous personal air sampling pump.

Everyone will know the need for stable flow when using air sampling pumps, but little is known about the effects of pulsation, which were highlighted by a three-part series of reports published by the BOHS that showed wide departures from the required plus-or-minus 10 percent according to the latest pump standard, ISO 13137:2013, Workplace Atmospheres—Pumps for Personal Sampling of Chemical and Biological Agents—Requirements and Test Methods. Casella also published a paper on the subject, which was presented at the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists annual conference in 2014. Pulsation will affect the size cut performance of the cyclone because its performance is flow dependent; in addition, pumps with significant pulsation collect less sample. This will impact the calculated mass concentration, which is clearly unacceptable for such a critical measurement.

What of real-time measurements? Instrumentation that can display mass concentration has existed for many years, but these optical-based instruments lack equivalency with traditional methods and can’t speciate the type of dust. In the mining industry, respirable equivalency was achieved for the first time with a true mass-based real-time measurement system, but this took several years and $5 million of NIOSH funding, and still does not speciate for RCS. The system was developed because of concerns about black lung disease, which has a lot in common with the effects of silica exposure.

So, for the time being, pumps, cyclones, and filter media remain the collection solution (with subsequent lab analysis). But the latest developments in flow calibrators will highlight the issue of pulsation in the field for the first time.

Steve Ochs, Area Sales Manager Casella

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This article was first published in the AIHA online magazine

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November 13, 2018

Do you know how to measure Noise at Work to assess noise hazards? If you want to learn about Noise at Work Regulations, and know which protective equipment to choose, then Casella's Noise Course.


Why and what to measure

How to calibrate your noise equipment

How to apply measurements to action levels and legal limits

The course is an excellent opportunity to ensure compliance with noise at work regulations, whilst also learning some tips and tricks to improve noise regulation in your workplace.

During the course, Casella will provide training on the use of dosimeters (personal noise monitoring devices) and sound level meters and offer guidance on how to turn the dosimeter readings into values that help determine the most appropriate form of hearing protection. Delegates attending the last course said it was “interesting and enjoyable”, as well as being “extremely helpful, covering more than I expected”.  

To book your place on the noise monitoring course, please contact Susan Henderson on susanhenderson@casellasolutions.com or by calling 01234 844100.

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Casella demonstrates its commitment to reducing environmental risks with the new solar panel and battery power options available with the Guardian2 - the small form factor, multi-agent total environmental monitoring system.

The Guardian2 makes capturing construction dust and noise data easier than ever before. It allows simultaneous monitoring and reporting of noise, dust and vibration levels, as well as wind speed and direction for measurement of site emission and environmental pollution levels. The latest solar panel and battery power options mean it is now suitable for monitoring on construction and demolition sites where no hardwired power is available.

Through the web-based Casella 24/7 interface, the Guardian2 solution allows users to undertake PM10 monitoring and create automated reports/alerts in real-time direct to multiple users PC or mobile devices. The Guardian2 ensures data integrity, wherever in the world the system is located. The system is easy to install and once connected, all sensors within the Guardian2 are activated and data is automatically transmitted. The comprehensive reports assist in planning controls for noise and dust on construction sites, to improving environmental performance and helping reduce downtime from exceeding permitted limits.

This small, lightweight solution is easy to transport and handle so its plug and play installation is simple and cost effective. The bespoke mHUB combines data-logging and telemetry capabilities, maximising data integrity and availability. In the event of a communication drop out, the mHUB eliminates the potential for data loss as it is continually storing data for later transmission.

Tim Turney, Product Manager at Casella said “The Guardian2 data can be securely analysed at any time from any location and we are delighted that, with the solar panel and battery power options, more construction and demolition sites will be assessed, helping to control noise, dust and vibration levels, so helping users with local government compliance requirements.”

Casella is dedicated to reducing occupational health and environmental risks, and supporting businesses solve their monitoring and analysis needs. For more information about the Casella Guardian2 click here.

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Personal air sampling pumps are bodily-worn pumps used to sample airborne contaminants that can be damaging to health, controlling the flow of air to ensure a known volume of air is sampled.

Monitoring for dust is usually achieved using such devices by sampling air onto a pre-weighed filter, which is then weighed after sampling and the dust concentration calculated. Monitoring for gases and vapors uses the same air sampling pump, but generally at a lower flow and using sorbent tubes or other media. The pump maintains the airflow at the correct level.

Personal sampling pumps must adhere to ISO 13137: 2013, which sets limits for required flow stability, as well as maximum pulsation levels. The international standard is intended to enable users of personal air sampling pumps to adopt a consistent approach for flow rate assessment. The standard provides a comprehensive framework that specifies test methods to determine performance of air sampling pumps, and ensures environmental influences such as air pressure and temperature have a minimal effect on the accuracy of the sampled air, which in turn could affect sample results.

Air monitoring pump calibrators are used to set and verify the flow rate of the pump required in the sampling process. Traditionally, this is accomplished using a rotameter, a transparent tube with a small float inside, or something like a burette to count soap bubbles. The air flowing through the air measurement calibration device causes the float to rise inside the tube to indicate the approximate airflow rate.

The electronic flow meter is the more contemporary innovation within airflow measurement technologies. As a diagnostic tool, electronic airflow meters allow for traceable measurement results, saving time and reducing the risk of errors compared to more traditional methods where results would be taken down manually. Electronic airflow meters also deliver better accuracy, testing to 1–2 percent greater accuracy than systems such as rotameters. What are the core benefits of this method of pump calibration and the recommended techniques industrial hygienists should use?

Setting up 
Air monitoring pump calibration determines the volumetric flow rate that will pass through the sampling media during the time the sample is taken and in its current location.

Calibration of the flow through the air sampling system is important in that it should be checked before and after each day of sampling in order to calculate the average air volume reading.  The entire sample train—including the combination of pump, flexible tube, and air sampling device—should be calibrated to ensure accuracy of flow rate.

Tips for accuracy
For effective calibration, accuracy is key. Through the process, calibration identifies error and allows for corrections for flow deviation. For this reason, inspection of the entire sample train is crucial in order to check not just the pump, but also items like the sampling head and tube, are leak free and in good condition. Also, remember to do the following:

- Let your pumps run for 5 minutes before calibration after removing them from the battery charger to let the flow stabilize. Check with your pump manufacturer for guidance.

- Calibrate the sample train as near to the site where the air sampling equipment will be used as possible in order to replicate atmospheric conditions. Give the pump and calibrator time to equilibrate to the temperature conditions at the site.

-Remember that flow calibration can be affected by conditions such as temperature and atmospheric pressure.

- It is good practice to ensure sampling pump batteries are fully charged before each full-shift usage, or to check that you have enough battery life for your sampling run.

- The post-sample reading must agree within 5 percent of the pre-sampling target flow rate; if the difference of the two flows exceeds 5 percent, the sample is invalid.

Making the cut
With every cycle of the pump, air is drawn in and then exhausted. The resulting airflow will not be completely smooth and includes an alternating, or pulsating, component due to the pump’s rotation. The pulsation performance is expressed as the ratio of the pulsating component amplitude to the mean (steady) flow rate. As sampling heads, like cyclones, rely on a steady flow to maintain a specific size “cut,” it is important for pulsation to be as small as possible. According to research published in the January 2014 issue of the Annals of Occupational Hygiene, deviation from the specified airflow for a cyclone will result in the sampled air not accurately reflecting the respirable size fraction. In accordance with ISO 13137, airflow pulsation should not exceed 10 percent. Casella's digital air flow meter , the Flow Detective™ is the only air flow calibrator on the market to detect when pulsation is exceeding 10 percent.

Tim Turney, Technical Product Manager Casella

Discover our airflow calibrator - The Flow Detective™

This article was first published in the AIHA online magazine


Annals of Occupational Hygiene: “Evaluation of Pump Pulsation in Respirable Size-Selective Sampling: Part II. Changes in Sampling Efficiency” (January 2014).

International Organization for Standardization: ISO 13137, “Workplace atmospheres—Pumps for personal sampling of chemical and biological agents—Requirements and test methods” (October 2013).

MSHA: “Metal/Nonmetal Health Inspection Procedures Handbook,” Chapter 4: Sampling Pumps & Airflow Calibrators (PDF).

NIOSH: “Manual of Analytical Methods,” Chapter D: General Considerations for Sampling Airborne Contaminants (PDF).

OSHA: “Technical Manual,” Section II, Chapter 1, Appendix F: Calibration.

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Casella, air sampling, noise and vibration monitoring specialist introduces the Flow Detective™ air sampling pump calibrator…

There is an estimated 18,000 new cases of breathing or lung problems a year caused or made worse by work, and an estimated 12,000 deaths from lung diseases linked to exposure at work[1]. It is an employer’s duty to protect the health of employees through health surveillance and exposure monitoring[2]. Air sampling is crucial and Casella’s latest Flow Detective™ is a robust solution allowing air sampling pumps to be calibrated, ensuring the pump has the correct flow, with traceable measurement results.

The Flow Detective™ is an electronic air flow meter calibrator, designed to measure the flow of air sampling pumps to within 2% accuracy. The device will be the first on the market with a Bluetooth connectivity, through Casella’s Airwave App. Airwave is the only app of its kind providing remote control for dust and noise monitoring devices, enabling calibration results to be sent via email, ensuring improved traceability and pump calibration procedures. As well as detecting air flow, the Flow Detective™ is the first calibrator on the market with the ability to measure pulsation, indicating if the air flow pulsation exceeds 10%. Air sampling pumps must have a pulsation level less than 10% if they are to adhere to ISO 13137. Excessive pulsation means an unsteady flow and has a detrimental effect on the ability of cyclone air samplers to collect the correct fraction of respirable dust.

The Flow Detective™ can be used with any manufacturers air sampling pumps, but for Casella’s Apex2 personal dust sampling pump, the Airwave App allows for closed loop airflow calibration with the ability to remotely set the flow via Airwave, so no manual settings have to be done on the pump or flowmeter, drastically saving time when calibrating pumps.

The Flow Detective™ will save professionals additional time due to its simple user inter-face, colour-screen and wide flow measurement range, which can be used for all personal flow use with any pump. The Flow Detective calibrator saves significant time compared to other electronic or traditional bubble flow meter calibration methods minimizing set up prior to undertaking calibrations and enabling tagging pre and post calibration data. The device is also functional for both dust and vapour sampling from 25mL to 5L per minute. As it also measures temperature and pressure, this gives peace of mind that the units will always be accurate, regardless of the environment.

Find out more about the Flow Detective™ here
[1] http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/respiratory-diseases.pdf

[2] http://www.hse.gov.uk/copd/employers.htm

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Due to popular demand, the Casella Noise at Work Course will return on April 24th! If you’re looking to save critical time and money for your business whilst ensuring compliance with Noise at Work Regulations, Casella’s one day noise course is the perfect starter course for you.

Led by our noise expert Shaun Knott, the course is an excellent opportunity to ensure compliance with noise at work regulations, whilst also learning some tips and tricks to improve noise regulation in your workplace.

During the course, Casella will provide training on the use of dosimeters (personal noise monitoring devices) and sound level meters and offer guidance on how to turn the dosimeter readings into values that help determine the most appropriate form of hearing protection. Delegates attending the last course said it was “interesting and enjoyable”, as well as being “extremely helpful, covering more than I expected”.

To book your place on the noise monitoring course, please contact Susan Henderson on susanhenderson@casellasolutions.com or by calling 01234 844100.

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In the engineering industry, many workers are required to operate hand-held power tools and other hand-guided equipment as part of their job, exposing them to potentially high vibration levels. Long term exposure to vibration levels that exceed safety limits puts workers at risk...

Approximately two million people in UK workplaces are at risk of developing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, commonly referred to as HAVs.[1]

In the engineering industry, many workers are required to operate hand-held power tools and other hand-guided equipment as part of their job, exposing them to potentially high vibration levels. Long term exposure to vibration levels that exceed safety limits puts workers at risk of painful injuries to fingers, hands and arms that may lead to working days lost for both the individual and the business they work for.

Injuries associated with vibration are permanent but the cause is preventable. Employers should implement effective vibration risk assessments and monitoring to help limit exposure and prevent workers from developing life changing conditions.

Why monitor?
The health issues associated with excessive exposure to vibration, often with agonising symptoms, are divided into three subgroups below:


Vibration White Finger (Raynaud’s disease) - This is a vascular disorder caused by the restricted blood flow, causing visible blanching of the hands[2]. In 2016,there were 455 new claims for this condition.[3]

Neurological Vibration (Carpel Tunnel Syndrome) –This problem causes tingling and numbness in the fingers resulting in a lack of dexterity. In 2016, there were 240 new claims of workers suffering from this syndrome.[4]

Muscle and Soft Tissue Damage – This includes conditions such as arthritis, changes to muscles and tendonitis, which can result in loss of grip and strength.

Each of these conditions could lead to social and financial implications for workers, as the pain can make it difficult to work and socialise. Any significant time off work due to sickness or injury will have implications on productivity and business efficiency, as well as potential fines if the risks haven’t been correctly identified and managed.

Case studies
In July 2017, a Cheshire based fabricators was fined £120,000 for failing to protect a worker at its steel component factory. The welder complained to supervisors that equipment was causing him numbness and tingling in his hands but he was told to continue his work regardless.[5]

A second incident occurred in a Rochdale-based plastic and engineering firm that was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,171.00. A worker in the company’s trimming department was exposed to vibration from sanding tools, resulting in a HAV diagnosis. An HSE investigation found that vibration risk assessments at the company were not suitable or sufficient.[6]

How to monitor
The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations (2005) stipulate employers must limit and ultimately eliminate the risks of vibration by ensuring exposure is ‘low as reasonably practical’.[7]Monitoring is essential to identify high risk activities and areas of concern and remain compliant to legislation.

Different jobs emit different levels of vibration and for all jobs where tools and machinery are used, employers must adhere to the government standards of safety, not exceeding the daily exposure limit for vibration (ELV) as 5 m/s2. This value is the maximum level of vibration an employee can be exposed to on any single day and if levels exceed this, equipment should not be operated, until steps have been taken to reduce exposure.[8] Employers must also focus on the daily exposure value (EAV), which should not exceed 2.5 m/s2. If worker exposure is regularly exceeding the EAV limit, employers must consider if the process can be changed and work can be done in a different way.[9]

Changing the process
Monitoring enables employers to learn more about the risks from vibration exposure. The HSE provides clear recommendations to employers on reducing the risks and changing work processes accordingly. Advice includes modifying the work to reduce the amount of time using hand tools, switching to better tools with lower vibration levels and training workers to ensure correct processes are followed all the time.[10]

It is important for employers to measure the actual vibration levels of tools on a regular basis, as the vibration levels deteriorate with time. To ensure exposure does not exceed regulations, high powered tools are now designed with estimated vibration levels and employers should use this as a guide, indicating how long workers can safely operate these tools for.[11] Sustained exposure levels to just below the limits still leaves workers at risk of developing health conditions and education and close observations of the tools and workforce will ensure ill-health problems are detected.[12]

In a busy engineering sector, operating tools is an essential part of the job and a daily task for workers. Monitoring provides valuable information to reduce and prevent vibration exposure. Without this data, workers’ could suffer the consequences for the rest of their life.

Tim Turney, Technical Product Manager Casella

Discover our range of hand-arm vibration meters

This article was first published in the AIHA online magazine

[1] http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/index.htm

[2] http://www.vibrosense.eu/knowledge-bank/medical-background/hand-arm-vibration-injuries

[3] http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/vibration/index.htm

[4] http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/vibration/index.htm

[5] https://www.robertsjackson.co.uk/news/vibration-injuries/engineering-sector-improve-vibration-safety/

[6] https://www.robertsjackson.co.uk/news/vibration-injuries/engineering-sector-improve-vibration-safety/

[7] http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/regulations.htm

[8] http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l140.pdf

[9] http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/advicetoemployers/vibration-exposure-monitoring-qa.pdf

[10] http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/advicetoemployers/vibration-exposure-monitoring-qa.pdf


[12] http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/advicetoemployers/vibration-exposure-monitoring-qa.pdf

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In recent decades, increased mechanisation has drastically changed the industrial work environment. This has led to many changes to an employee’s work pattern. It used to be the case on the majority of production lines, that an employee would stay in one place for their working shift. Therefore, monitoring their noise exposure with a sound level meter was very straightforward. However, with the increase in completely mechanised production lines, employees may now supervise several automated machines. This means that they now move around from area to area resulting in much more dramatic and varied exposure to noise.

Handheld or worn?
The only way to monitor precisely an individual's exposure to noise is by using either a sound-level meter or a dosimeter. A sound-level meter is a hand-held device that allows a competent third party to take measurements at the operator's ear (or within 10-15 cm) with the instrument pointing at the noise source. By repeating this exercise for all the operations an employee performs during the day, you can calculate their daily exposure. Where it is difficult to get close to employees with a sound-level meter (as in the case of forklift truck drivers, for instance) or where workers are exposed to many different noise levels, they should wear noise dosimeters. This is the case more often in the modern workplace. Using a standard sound level meter, you would have to measure the noise levels at each location and find out how long the worker stays at each place, and then calculate the overall exposure.

The use of noise dosimeters
If these complex work patterns exist in your workplace and a noise dosimeter fits the bill, it is important to realise how they should be used, recognising the limitations and pitfalls in using them, and conducted at a time which represents a standard working environment. Given the logarithmic nature of the decibel scale, a variance of only 1 or 2dB can often mean serious misinterpretation of noise levels. This margin of error should be accounted for and the worst case scenario measurement taken as the reading, particularly when close to an action level.

Another useful feature of noise dosimeters is that they will ‘log’ the noise data so that, when downloaded to a PC, the time history of the noise can be viewed, as illustrated below. This gives the ability to analyse when and where high noise exposures occur. This can be even more useful when the dosimeter can be placed on an employee who is prepared to make a diary of what times and jobs he or she was performing throughout the day. This will give an employer the ability to directly see which operations most need noise control in order to reduce noise exposure.

One advantage of dosimeters is that if employees wear them for complete work shifts the noise dose is measured in full, so you do not need to make any extra calculations to arrive at a full measure of exposure. However, if you need to make several measurements of different employees in the same day, a dosimeter can be moved to different employees, as long as the measurements taken for each employee are representative of their working day. Most modern dosimeters will also project the noise dose forward to the standard 8 hours, so no calculations are needed.

With innovations in digital technology, noise dosimeters are becoming smaller and smaller. The latest ‘badge’ dosimeters, like the dBadge2, have certain advantages over traditional dosimeters. Essentially, because the whole dosimeter is in a package that is small and light enough to be worn on the shoulder, it means there are no microphone cables. If there are no cables to get in the way, not only is it safer to wear, but employees are less resistant to wearing it, and are therefore much more likely to forget it is there. This means the quality of the noise data collected will be much improved.

Due to the small size of badge type products, it is also possible to mount them in more innovative ways, such as on a hard hat. This allows the dosimeter to not be mounted on clothing at all, therefore completely removing it from the employees mind.

The badge dosimeters, like the dBadge2 can therefore be mounted close to the ear, without interfering with an employee’s working process in any way.

Windshields also play a crucial role in any sound level measurements. Windshields should be used even when indoors. With reference to dosimeters they provide protection from dust settling on the microphone, as well as knocks.

Standards and accuracy
Noise dosimeters are manufactured to IEC 61252, the international standard for dosimeters. These are classed as ‘Type 2’, which is the required accuracy for workplace noise regulations. The Noise Regulations stipulate, to check the accuracy of the dosimeter, that the dosimeter is checked with a field calibrator before use. Field calibrators produce a noise signal, normally a tone of 1 kHz at 114 dB. It is best practice to run the calibration test after any period of field measurement as well, to check that there has been no significant drift of the dosimeter during the measurement.

The Regulations say both the dosimeter and the acoustic calibrator must be returned to the manufacturer for a full calibration every two years. This is because an acoustic calibrator is used as a ‘field’ check to ensure that the dosimeter is working correctly by checking at one frequency and level. A true calibration, performed by a calibration laboratory, does multiple tests. These include testing the measurements across all frequencies and levels as well as numerous other tests, in essence to ensure that the dosimeter still meets the requirements of IEC 61652.

The post process
Modern dosimeters measure all of the essential parameters for workplace noise regulations including daily exposures and peak levels. However, it is important that the data can be easily accessed and the data presented in a format that is easy to understand to a layperson who may not be familiar with all the acoustic terminology. This is why software is important for modern dosimetry. The ability to store data in a format that is by person or place is important so that when you return the data it is easy to remember what it was about. Also, the ease with which the data can be placed into a report is paramount to avoid having to post process a lot of data. The optional software ‘Insight’ for the dBadge2 outputs data into reports automatically, including the average and peak time history, in a simple format with required data for workplace noise regulations.

Bluetooth connectivity
The dBadge2 can be remotely monitored with the supporting Airwave App on your mobile device. There’s no need to disturb the wearer when you can view the status or even start, stop or pause the measurement run. The dashboard display provides summary data at a glance, and you can simply tap to select an instrument for further data. Email this data alongside photos and notes direct to your PC for easier reporting.

Noise dosimeters prove crucial for noise monitoring in today’s modern working environment, with highly mobile workers and varying noise exposure. They can give valuable information, using the logged time history data, on when and where the majority of noise exposure has taken place. This allows the implementation of noise control in the right place, which is of course the true end goal when performing any noise survey.

Discover our range of dosimeters

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Workers in the offshore oil and gas industry are exposed to a range of hazardous substances that could impact their occupational health, increasing the likelihood of developing respiratory conditions, among others. Personal sampling pumps are a tool used to monitor such substances. A sampling pump’s size, weight, connectivity, and ability to access data are key, but in addition to that are considerations of flow rate stability, pulsation, and back-pressure capability.

When purchasing a sampling pump, what features should you look for?

Battery Life
A personal sampling pump’s battery life must be able to maintain operation throughout a monitoring period. Due to the variable nature of the offshore oil and gas environment, the sampling pump can be put under changeable amounts of operating stress during a single monitoring period. As the filter media becomes loaded with sample, the pump must draw harder to overcome back pressure, and this in turn draws more power from the battery.

Lithium-Ion batteries are now starting to be used in the latest personal sampling pumps with significant advantages over traditional nickel-metal hydride and nickel-cadmium batteries. Li-Ion batteries have the highest energy density, which means that you need fewer cells and can ultimately achieve a smaller, lighter pump. Li-Ion batteries also do not suffer from the “memory effect” (where only part of the battery charge is usable) or lose charge through storage, meaning you don’t have to cycle the batteries regularly or implement a battery management procedure.

The wearability of a personal sampling pump is essential for making a monitoring regime as non-disruptive as possible to the worker. The latest generation of pumps now includes a motion sensor ensuring the pump has been worn and the sample is valid. Choose a pump that can be worn comfortably by a variety of wearers to help in their engagement with the monitoring process.

Ignition and Environment
The possibility for explosive situations in the oil and gas industry means it is vital that the pump must be intrinsically safe and not be a source of ignition. The latest pump designs include mechanisms in the circuitry to harness potential losses. Look out for the I.S. markings on your pump to ensure compliance.

Consider whether the pumps will be used in a harsh environment. For example, many pumps now have “Ingress Protection” ratings, which means they are protected from ingress by water and dust.

Back-Pressure Capability
The biggest factor to consider in the operational capabilities of your personal sampling pump is the choice of filter media. The smaller the diameter and the pore size of your filter and the greater the flow rate, the greater the back pressure exerted and the harder the motor needs to work. Furthermore, as the media becomes loaded, back pressure increases still.

Membrane filters, as opposed to standard gravimetric GFA filters, exert more back pressure. If you use these filters routinely, check the back-pressure capabilities specified by your pump manufacturer. Will they cope?

Pulsation and Air Flow
The ISO 13137:2013 standard requires that the pulsation of a personal sampling pump “shall not exceed 10 percent of the flow rate.” A pulsation measurement shows the difference in air flow between cycles; through every cycle, as the pump draws air in and expels it simultaneously, this exchange process causes an uneven flow. A large pulsation value means that if you are using a cyclone head for collecting respirable samples, flow does not remain steady, and the size cut of the respirable fraction is affected.

To combat this effect, manufacturers include pulsation dampeners, which are rubber diaphragms that act as extra reservoirs of air to smooth the flow. Ensure that the pulsation values are within specification for your chosen pump. Most pumps control the flow of air through the pump by means of a “constant flow” mechanism. As back pressure increases, the pump detects the change and alters the flow accordingly. According to ISO13137, should be within plus or minus 5 percent of the flow set. A constant flow ensures that you can be confident in the volume data for your exposure calculations.

Constant Pressure Control
“Constant pressure control” is primarily used for low-flow applications and allows the possibility of taking samples with sorbent tubes for gases and vapors. This method controls the flow rate by holding a constant pressure level in the tubing between the samplers and the pump. For many pumps, in order to do low-flow measurement, you would purchase a separate constant-pressure controller. If you do a lot of low-flow measurements, it is worth investing in a pump that has this built in.

Connectivity and Bluetooth
The use of smartphones and mobile devices is commonplace, and it’s unsurprising that this trend filters down into monitoring equipment. Bluetooth low-energy technology can be included in pump designs without draining the battery. This means that industrial hygienists can remotely monitor, control, and email data from the pump to their mobile phone without having to disturb the worker. The unique locations of offshore oil and gas sites make this remote technology an ideal investment for health and safety monitoring.

Effective Monitoring
It is vital that these factors, alongside the broader environmental conditions in the specific working environment, are at front of mind when purchasing new equipment. As the oil and gas industry looks set to get busier than ever, ensure that you’re able to monitor worker exposure as effectively as possible.

Tim Turney, Technical Product Manager Casella

Discover our range of personal air sampling pumps

This article was first published in the AIHA online magazine

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Approximately 14.8 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with an estimated 12 million people likely to have the condition, but not yet be diagnosed.[1] Many of these cases could be linked to occupational exposure from dangerous airborne dusts, fumes and other substances.

Implementing workplace monitoring solutions could be the key to reducing these statistics. The process provides real-time data about dust levels, enabling employers to identify general areas and specific activities that increase exposure, implementing processes to mitigate risks.

Why Monitor?
OSHA recognizes the importance for employers to protect workers from hazardous substances and to keep them to a reasonable level within Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). This applies to substances such as metal, coal, silica dust and toxic fumes with different maximum exposure limits, indicating when exposure becomes potentially hazardous to health and employers must react.[2]

Highlighting the importance of maintaining healthy PELs, OSHA enforced a new regulation on the 23rd September 2017, to reduce workers exposure to crystalline silica. The regulation stipulates that personal exposure should be limited to 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic metre of air (μg/m3), over an eight-hour period.

This places more stringent requirements on employers to implement better methods to reduce exposure. These include monitoring programmes and maintaining records of exposure, offering medical examinations and training to individuals about silica related hazards and how to limit exposure. OSHA estimates this new rule could save up to 700 lives per year.

To comply with the standard, the following schedule must be adhered to:

- If initial results indicate exposures are below the action level (25 μg/m3), no additional monitoring is necessary

- If the monitoring results indicate exposures are above the action level, but below the PEL, additional monitoring would be required within 6 months

- If the exposure monitoring indicates exposures above the PEL, additional monitoring must be repeated within 3 months

- If subsequent monitoring (not the initial monitoring) indicates exposures are below the action level, the employer must repeat the monitoring until two consecutive measurements (taken 7 or more days apart) are below the action level. At that point, the employer can discontinue monitoring

Monitoring solutions are effective in measuring exposure limits, ensuring appropriate action is taken if levels are exceeded.

Dust monitoring

Before implementing any monitoring solution, the first action needed is a proper risk assessment which will answer some key questions:

- Who is exposed and to what?

- How long are they exposed for?

- How much are they exposed to?

Monitoring must be done in a way that it does not impact the comfort or productivity of a worker. Real -time dust monitoring solutions generally can be used for general spot checks, walk-through surveys and individual monitoring, detecting the total level of dust in the air. These instruments highlight exactly when and where excessive dust levels are occurring to support real-time rapid decision-making. Monitoring is a procedure that instantly yields results, equipping employers and employees alike with greater knowledge, leading to positive workplace health programs. For crystalline silica, personal monitoring is essential, and employers must look for personal dust sampling pumps.

Integrating monitoring pumps should become an established part of the health and safety process for companies, saving valuable time, protecting employees that could enhance business efficiency.

Forward focus
The number of American’s suffering from respiratory conditions as the result of workplace exposure is a serious issue and to ensure such cases are reduced, monitoring is critical.

Tim Turney, Technical Product Manager Casella

Discover our range of dust monitoring solutions

This article was first published in December 2017 edition of Powder and Bulk Solids

[1] https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/respiratory-diseases

[2] https://www.osha.gov/dsg/annotated-pels/tablez-2.html

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