Monitoring technology developed for the military can now help protect bakery workers from “white lung”. Lightweight wearable monitors have been developed by Arosa Instruments using patented air sampling technology developed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the University of Hertfordshire.
The monitors weigh just 95 grams and are small enough to be worn on a lapel. Compared with current devices, the new monitor is five times lighter, can be placed anywhere on the worker since it does not need to be worn on a belt or shoulder strap, and it mitigates the snagging or catch hazard as a hose is no longer needed.
The monitors allow inhalable dust to be monitored over an eight-hour shift in line with the Health and Safety Executive’s Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH), which are designed to protect workers from diseases associated with breathing in fine flour particles. They can also give real-time information on breathable dust levels, using flashing LEDs to alert workers if they are over-exposed. Furthermore, they provide downloadable records of a worker’s dust exposure through the day, allowing employers to identify potential dust exposure hotspots.
The new technology will help protect the estimated 75,000 workers in the UK bakery industry from diseases such as White Lung, also known as Baker’s Asthma, caused by breathing in flour dust. Each year in the UK, there are an estimated 17,000 new cases of breathing or lung problems self-reported by workers. Bakers and flour confectioners are the second most affected occupations after vehicle paint technicians.
William Averdieck, founder of Arosa Instruments, said: “The devices are especially relevant to the bakery industry because flour dust and enzymes are the second most common cause of occupational asthma and they can also lead to other conditions such as dermatitis. Our patented technology represents a major leap forward in protecting bakery industry workers and ensuring employers achieve compliance and reduce avoidable risk of workplace exposure.”