Compliance monitoring to Australian Standards
Traditional occupational compliance monitoring to Australian Standards AS 2985 or 3640 involves using personal dust pumps and various filter heads (depending on the dust being analysed) attached to a worker to determine the concentration of dust an individual is potentially being exposed to; not taking into account any respiratory protection that may have been worn. The exposure monitoring ideally should be over the whole shift to ensure all tasks performed for that day are captured. This method of assessing exposure to dust is relatively slow from taking the sample, sending the cassettes to the laboratory through to receiving the results back from the laboratory, this may take several days to several weeks.
This method is useful to determine compliance against the relevant workplace exposure standard but does not provide a means of determining where high levels of dust may have occurred throughout the workers day or which task/s have contributed to the exposure. This method will only provide you with an average exposure for the time that the monitoring occurred.
Real time dust monitoring
Real time dust monitors can take up to 43000 samples over a 12-hour shift compared to a single measurement using the Australian Standard method for respirable or inhalable dust.
The advantage of real time dust monitoring is the ability to quickly and easily assess dust controls to determine if they are working effectively; having an instantaneous result you may be able to make adjustment to the controls and reassess the dust levels. The real time monitoring data can be logged to show before and after the improvements and be tracked over time.
Using a real time monitor you can assess workers tasks to determine which of their task are contributing to dust exposures or potential workplace exposure standard exceedances and implement plans to reduce the dust levels. These can also be used to identify workers that complete the same tasks but continually have higher daily dust levels. This information can be used to review the tasks to determine the best practices that will reduce the dust levels.
The real time dust monitor can be used in conjunction with a video camera to be able to visually see where the elevated dust levels are occurring throughout a task or whole days monitoring. This data and video footage can be edited using the NIOSH EVADE Software to show the dust levels and areas where the peaks have occurred. This data can then be used as a valuable training aid in the correct techniques to use to reduce dust exposure, increase workers awareness of the task and their dust exposure levels, or simply to visually compare before and after control measurements.
Work areas can be assessed prior or throughout the workday to determine if there are certain areas that have high dust levels, determine if controls are adequate or if an exclusion zones need to be implemented to reduce the dust exposure to workers.
These instruments provide real time information to the worker, the information can be data logged to identify trends and alarms can be set to warn worker when the dust levels are approaching a set predetermined level.
Real time monitoring cannot be used to replace compliance monitoring but can be used to supplement a monitoring program.
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