Military technology protects workers from wood dust

New technology developed for the military to detect chemical attacks is being brought to market to help protect workers from health problems caused by wood dust.

Lightweight wearable monitors have been manufactured 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 9g 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 mitigates the snagging or catch hazard as a hose is no longer needed.

The breakthrough will help protect workers in more than 5,000 wood, timber and lumber manufacturing plants across the UK, from conditions caused by fine dust particles, including skin disorders, asthma and nasal cancer. Arosa Instruments has brought the technology to market with the backing of Ploughshare Innovations, which takes research created by world-leading government laboratories, such as Dstl, and commercialises it to deliver societal impact. The sampling method used in the monitors was originally designed to alert the armed forces to possible chemical weapons attacks.

William Averdieck, founder of Arosa Instruments, said: “This technology is a game-changer, replacing old and cumbersome monitoring equipment with advanced, lightweight, wearable devices that provide detailed real-time information on dust particle levels in the workplace. The devices are especially relevant to the industries that process wood due to the health risks associated with inhaling wood dust. Our patented technology represents a major leap forward in protecting workers and helping employers achieve compliance with Workplace Exposure Limits. Our instruments, which are convenient to wear, monitor the dust levels and reduce avoidable risk by providing feedback that local exhaust and ventilation systems are working correctly, and that work practices are adequately controlling dust levels.”

Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, CEO at Ploughshare Innovations, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Arosa Instruments in bringing this exciting new sampling method to market. We are immensely proud of William, his colleagues and the team at the University of Hertfordshire for their achievements. This product has the potential to revolutionise air quality measurement in a range of industries to allow employers to comply with ever-tougher regulations and give greater protection to their workforce.”

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 inhaling fine dust particles.

• Give real-time information on respirable dust levels, using flashing LEDs to alert workers if they
   are over-exposed.

• Provide downloadable records of a worker’s dust exposure throughout the day, allowing
  employers to identify potential dust exposure hot spots.

For more information on Arosa Instruments, see

Arosa Instruments Limited
Rolfes Farm Church Road
Suffolk, CB8 8UL