OCCUPATIONAL HYGIENE

OCCUPATIONAL NOISE MONITORING

In Queensland, Occupational Noise Monitoring is required where employers are potentially exposing workers to elevated levels of noise in the workplace.

Noise Monitoring can be performed as personal or static noise monitoring.

Personal noise monitoring is conducted by attaching a noise dosimeter device to the lapel of workers and monitoring their noise exposure levels over a standard work shift (often 8 hours).

Static noise monitoring is performed in identified locations including those in the vicinity of noise-generating machinery. Static noise monitoring is performed using a hand-held Type 1 or 2 sound level meter (SLM). Static noise monitoring is normally conducted for shorter durations in multiple locations within a noisy work environment.

Tony Lane Consulting conducts monitoring in general accordance with Australian Standard AS1269.1:2005 Occupational noise management Part 1: Measurement and assessment of noise immission and exposure.

The results of noise monitoring are compared against the noise exposure standard specified in the Queensland Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss at Work Code of Practice-2011. The exposure standard has been set to protect the majority of workers in a workplace against the possibility of suffering Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). The exposure standard is defined in the regulations as:

  • The 8 hour equivalent continuous sound pressure of 85 dB(A) measured in A-weighted decibels referenced to 20 micropascals at an employee’s ear position; or
  • The C-weighted peak hold sound pressure level reading of 140 dB(C) measured in decibels referenced to 20 micropascals at an employee’s ear position.

Sound pressure levels above the 8 hour exposure standard of 85 dB(A) are allowable, provided that the A-weighted average over an 8 hour period is below the standard. Where individuals work shifts are longer than 8 hours, the A weighted exposure standard must be lowered accordingly. The C-weighted peak level of 140 dB(C) must not be exceeded at any time.

Contact Tony Lane Consulting for advice on what type of noise monitoring best suits your business.

DUST MONITORING

Exposure of workers to excessive levels of dust in the workplace can lead to respiratory disease and place employers at risk of breaching the Work Health and Safety Regulations.

Tony Lane Consulting can help by establishing a monitoring regime to determine if occupational exposure standards are being exceeded. We have experience of dust monitoring in open cut coal mining, factories, construction sites, retail/commercial properties and even office buildings.

Dust monitoring can be conducted as personal or area monitoring.

Personal dust monitoring is undertaken on nominated personnel in accordance with Australian Standard AS 3640-2009 Workplace atmospheres – Method for sampling and gravimetric determination of inhalable dust. This method involved the collection of dust onto a pre-weighed PVC filter contained within a sampling device (to collect either inhalable or respirable fractions of dust), connected to a pre-calibrated sampling pump. Workers wear the sampling pump on their belt and the filter is positioned within their breathing zone and fixed to their lapel. The filters, under chain of custody documentation are sent to an independent third party laboratory to undergo gravimetric analysis. The change in filter weight is used to calculate the concentration of inhalable or respirable dust.

Similar monitoring equipment can be positioned strategically within the workplace to sample general dust levels.

Tony Lane Consulting also utilises real time dust monitoring devices that use a photo-ionising detector (PID) which give immediate results (but which cannot be directly related to personal exposure standards).

Tony Lane Consulting advises businesses of practical and cost effective control measures to reduce or eliminate worker exposure.

HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL MONITORING

Depending on your industry, there are literally thousands of different chemicals that your workers could be exposed to.

Examples of common chemicals used/produced in industry include acids, alkalis, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, nitrates, diesel particulate matter (DPM), carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. At Tony Lane Consulting, we have extensive experience in assisting businesses in identifying and monitoring for these and other hazardous chemicals, usually through airborne sampling techniques.

Due to the large numbers of potential contaminants, it is not practical to list all the techniques used, however, commonly, sampling tubes containing charcoal filters are connected to sampling pumps which sample a set volume of air over a set time period. After laboratory analysis, we can provide a result in milligrams per cubic metre (mg/m3) which is then compared to the exposure standard for that chemical. Australian and international exposure standards are used to provide advice to employers on potential exposure of workers and appropriate control measures that can be put in place.

Often, electronic sampling devices can be used to provide immediate results and also to collect data over a longer time period. This technique is effective in engine (vehicle or generator) emissions monitoring.

Following assessment, Tony Lane Consulting will advise businesses of practical and cost effective control measures to reduce or eliminate worker exposure.

RF RADIATION

Radiofrequency Radiation or RFR is a non-ionising radiation that is produced through generation of electromagnetic radiation from transmitters including mobile phone towers, radio antennae, satellite dishes and WiFi.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) provides guidelines as to safe levels of RFR exposure.

Work sites that have mobile phone antennae installed must take particular care in the location and access control of the towers to prevent workers or members of the public being exposed to harmful levels of RFR.

Tony Lane Consulting is aware of a case that occurred in the Brisbane CBD last year that resulted in 2 workers being hospitalised after exposure to RFR from mobile phone antennae on the roof of a Brisbane office building. As mobile phone antennae generate microwave energy, spending time close to the source is akin to the heating effect from a microwave oven and results in internal burns.

Although WiFi antennae only generate RFR at a very low power level, being in close proximity to the antennae continuously over a long time period may also cause adverse health effects.

RFR is also produced by any device that produces or uses electricity. It is strongest around electrical transformers and large switch boards and care must be taken in co-location of workers around these types of plant.

Tony Lane Consulting can assist businesses by measuring RFR exposure using a hand held electronic device to measure either electrical or magnetic fields. This can allow hazard zones around mobile antennae, transformers and switch boards to be identified and access restricted.

If you are the facility manager at a potential RFR generating site (e.g. water tower, high rise building, factory, shopping centre, etc.) call Tony Lane Consulting to discuss if monitoring may be required.

INDOOR AIR QUALITY ASSESSMENTS

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Assessments should be conducted in workplaces where the indoor environment is provided with air conditioning or other form of climate control. An IAQ Assessment will help businesses manage key parameters of air quality including:

  • Temperature
  • Relative humidity
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Dust

Recommended exposure levels for these parameters are provided by ISO 7730-1994 Moderate Thermal Environments – Determination of the PMV and PPD indices and specification of the conditions for thermal comfort and ASHRAE Standard 62-2004 Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers). These guidelines specify key thermal comfort parameters known to be acceptable to at least 80% of building occupants.

Tony Lane Consulting will use an electronic instrument to accurately measure these parameters in the indoor environment and provide advice for remediation where necessary.

MOULD REMOVAL

If a building is subject to water ingress, either from rain, flooding or burst water pipes, adverse health effects can arise if mould is allowed to proliferate. Airborne mould spores produce mycotoxins which have been shown to cause adverse health effects in some individuals such as sinus congestion, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and asthma.

Even when there is no visible mould on indoor surfaces, damp within wall and ceiling cavities can result in hidden mould growth and the spread of mould spores through the indoor air.

Musty or mouldy odours or a subjectively increased level of humidity can be indicators of a mould problem. In this case, owners and managers should seek professional advice about remediation.

Tony Lane Consulting utilise the following methodology when assessing for mould:

  • Representative walk through of the premises, and visual inspection of areas which have been affected by mould and may impact the internal air quality;
  • Representative testing of surfaces where there is evidence of mould growth using a tape-lift procedure;
  • Air sampling for airborne mould in representative locations;
  • Measurement of indoor temperature and relative humidity;
  • Testing of the relative moisture content of affected building materials such as walls, carpets, tiles, etc.;
  • Comparisons of results to applicable standards and guidelines; and
  • The preparation of a report including analysis of findings, comparison against relevant standards, and recommendations for remediation.

Mould identification from air and tape lift samples is performed by an accredited external laboratory.

For an obligation free quote on your workplace health and safety, please contact Tony Lane Consulting for advice about investigation and remediation.