Site Airborne Fibre Extraction Unit - S.A.F.E Unit
Health Safety Environment Australia (HSE) Australia wins Safety Award
HSE Australia was awarded the “Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue – Private Sector Award” by SafeWork SA at the Safety Awards Dinner on Friday 29th October 2010.
“It was fabulous to win the award, especially when it was a real team effort to get it right and now receiving the award is great.” said Rodney Fox, the Managing Director of Health Safety Environment Australia.
The recent South Australian SafeWork Awards, awarded HSE Australia the “Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue – Private Sector ” for the, Site Airborne Fibre Extraction Unit (SAFE Unit). The SAFE Unit is basically a screening method, of identifying the presence or respirable size fibres in soils.
The development of the unit came from a single white board session with the Occupational Hygienists at HSE Australia and the final SAFE unit was developed, over a number of months of continuous engineering and testing. The final unit had client approval in a matter of days once presented to their International Safety Team. Without the full support across HSE Australia and the commitment to change from the client the whole process would not have had traction.
At the awards the Hon Paul Holloway SA Minister for Industrial Relations “the most hotly contested category of the awards, Best Solution to an identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue – Private Sector ‘ drew some outstanding competition, but HSE Australia’s Safe unit …was a standout”
The SAFE Unit has been designed to take a sample of soil, agitate the whole sample and draw the respirable dust onto a membrane filter. Once the soil dust sample has been collected on the gridded filter the NOHSC membrane filter method is followed. Loading of samples is carried out in an exhaust ventilated container and the sampling unit operates under negative pressure and will contain fibres if the standard work procedures are followed. All fibre concentrations measured in the workplace where the samples have been tested were below the limit of detection (<0.01 fib/mL).
After field operation of the SAFE Unit for several months some handling issues were found to be an inconvenience to the operators, this led to the development of the Nano-SAFE Unit, which is shown in the photo below.
Testing of the Nano SAFE Unit with soil samples spiked with 0.001% w/w crocidolite gave fibre counts ranging from 25 to 59.5 fibres /100 graticules and when averaged over 6 samples there were 36.5 fibres /100 graticules.
With the system always operating under negative pressure the system has been designed to fail safe should a leak occur. With the design now patented, clients have expressed an interest from South America and Canada already.