The first Australian field trials of new technology to detect dangerous levels of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in the air began in Sydney this month.
Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said this world-first technology will help workers identify high levels of RCS in real time, preventing inhalation and the contraction of the deadly lung disease, silicosis.
“This device will be instrumental in helping us to reduce silicosis in NSW, and I am proud that we are leading the way with this world-first technology,” Mr Anderson said.
“When we began this project there was nothing on the market that could accurately detect RCS instantly, so our world-first device will be a game changer for anyone working with stone.”
The new technology differs from existing prototypes as it accurately detects RCS particles in the air, analysing incoming data to provide a milligram per cubic meter reading and a feature that will alert workers if they are in danger.
“We will be working with high-risk industries and workplaces to field-test the technology to ensure it’s working as it should be in the unique Australian conditions before we progress to the next phase,” Mr Anderson said.
“We expect the device to be commercially available by the end of this year. Once the technology is finalised we will then work on making it smaller so a worker can easily wear it as a device to stop them from unknowingly inhaling dangerous levels of silica dust.”
The new detector is just one component of the NSW Government’s NSW Dust Strategy 2020-22 to tackle dust diseases, including silicosis and asbestosis.
The NSW Government is taking proactive steps to protect workers, including reducing the legal exposure standard for silica exposure, banning dry cutting of manufactured stone, making silicosis a notifiable disease and establishing a dust diseases register that will track, respond to, and prevent deadly dust diseases, including asbestosis and silicosis.