Company: Arosa Instruments

Equipment Snapshot: New technology developed for the military to detect chemical attacks is being brought to market for use by the bakery industry to monitor levels of breathable flour dust in the workplace.

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 breakthrough 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.

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 commercializes 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 for the industry, replacing old and cumbersome monitoring equipment with advanced, lightweight, wearable devices that provide detailed real-time information about levels of dust particles in the workplace.

“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.”

Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, CEO at Ploughshare Innovations, said: “Ploughshare Innovations enables game changing solutions from UK government investments in science and technology, for the benefit of our economy and society as a whole, and this is a great example. 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 that has the potential to revolutionize air quality measurement in a range of industries to allow employers to comply with ever-tougher regulations and give greater protection for 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 breathing in fine flour particles.
  • Can 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 through the day, allowing employers to identify potential dust exposure hotspots.