Respirator Fit Testing

If anyone in your team wears Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) then as the PCBU you must provide information, training or instruction on how to correctly use, wear, store and maintain the RPE.

Fit testing is required by AS/NZS 1715 before a respirator is worn in the workplace to ensure that workers are wearing properly fitting RPE, with an effective seal to the face. A fit test should be conducted at issue of RPE and then at least annually and/or;

>> Whenever a different size, style, model or make of respirator is used.

>> When any facial changes occur that could affect fit, such as significant weight changes or significant dental work.

It is also a good idea to complete fit testing alongside annual health monitoring where our Occupational Health Nurses discuss respiratory history and exposure history as well as completing spirometry (lung function testing).

TriEx carry out Qualitative Fit Testing for half face respirators, used in environments where the hazard is less than 10 times the WES (workplace exposure standard).

A sensitivity test is completed without RPE under a hood. The RPE is then worn and either a bitter or sweet solution is introduced into the hood whilst the worker carries out a variety of activities for one minute each including:

>> Normal breathing

>> Deep breathing

>> Moving head side to side

>> Moving head up and down

>> Bending over (or jogging in place)

>> Talking

>> Normal breathing again

Education is given regarding care and maintenance of respiratory equipment and how to fit check RPE.

To learn more about this service contact our health team on 0800 487 439 or email enquiries@triex.co.nz.

Silica Dust

What is Silica & Silica Dust?

Silica is everywhere. It’s part of bricks, concrete and mortar. It’s in tiles and the slates on our roofs. It’s found naturally in stone and rocks. Even some fillers and plastic composite products use silica. Left alone, silica is safe. But if you work on materials that are made up of silica, you’ll be releasing dangerous silica dust. Activities such as concrete drilling, cutting, grinding, fettling, mixing, handling, dry shoveling and tunneling can all result in exposure.

The industries with the highest risk of exposure include construction, quarrying, mining, concrete manufacturing, brick & tile manufacturing, foundries, abrasive blasting, roading and monumental masonry work.

Silica dust is the very fine dust that’s created when you cut, drill, grind, chip or sand materials and products like stone, bricks, concrete, tiles or mortar.

Why is Silica Dust Dangerous?

Silica dust can be harmful if you breathe it in. Silica dust particles are much smaller than normal dust (sometimes invisible to the naked eye) – and they can get deep into your lungs and stay there, permanently damaging the lung tissue and eventually leading to serious lung diseases in some people. Silica dust can cause silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease.

Eliminate the Exposure

Consider changing the product or process, for example use alternative products (eg metallic shot, slag products or grit for abrasive blasting, instead of sand).

Getting materials cut to size off-site in a facility where dust exposure can be controlled more easily.

Minimise the Exposure

Read more →

Asthma Awareness Day

Tuesday May 7 is World Asthma Day. World Asthma Day is held annually on the first Tuesday in May and is designed to improve asthma awareness and care globally.

Asthma is a chronic condition of the bronchioles — the small airways inside the lungs. The airways in a person with asthma are oversensitive and are easily irritated. The irritation causes the inside of the airway to become red and inflamed and the muscles surrounding the airway walls tighten. These two processes narrow the airway passages, making breathing very difficult at times.

New Zealand has one of the world’s highest asthma rates with asthma and respiratory diseases being two of the leading causes of sickness and death in New Zealand. 1 in 6 New Zealanders have a respiratory disease and it is the 3rd most common cause of death.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a term for the diseases emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma. COPD is the fourth top cause of death with 15% of New Zealanders aged over 45 having COPD. Most cases of COPD are linked to smoking, however this can also be caused from breathing in chemical fumes, dust and toxic substances while carrying out work.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ has lots of great resources for asthma patients and carers on their website here.

World Day for Safety & Health At Work

Sunday April 28 is World Day for Safety and Health at Work which is an initiative of the International Labour Organisations (ILO). It was established to encourage remembrance and reflection on those who have lost their lives or been injured at work.

New Zealand sees 600-900 work-related deaths per year from health exposures, and in 2018 42 people died from work-related incidents.

The President of the New Zealand Institute of Safety Management (NZISM) Greg Dearsly has said that this day is another opportunity to put the spotlight on the true extent of work related health and safety incidents in New Zealand.

“Our current statistics do not represent the total problem,” he says. “While all countries report in the same way we should be looking at the wider problem and tackle three areas: workplace safety to protect workers from accidents, workplace health to address long term risks and issues and work related driver safety. Accidents at work grab headlines and sadly our statistics are still high compared to other OECD countries, so we need to continue our strong efforts to reduce them.”

He has also said that we need to put more attention on work health issues. If driving is part of any worker’s role, it should the responsibility of the employer to help them be a safer driver.

As the International Labour Organization (ILO) marks its 100th anniversary, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2019 takes stock of the past hundred years’ efforts to improve occupational safety and health and looks at how changes in the world of work will affect occupational safety and health in the future. View their video below.

How’s Your Hearing?

Did you know: 

  • More than 880,000 New Zealanders are living with hearing loss
  • 30% of all hearing loss is preventable
  • 16-37% of hearing loss globally is attributed to occupational noise or Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).

Hearing Awareness Week runs from Sunday March 3rd to Saturday March 9th — a good time to consider the health of you and your teams hearing. Hearing tests are mandatory if your workplace has noise levels exceeding the equivalent of 85dB(A) for a period of 8 hours. The National Foundation for the Deaf is behind Silent March – a fundraising initiative that your workplace can get behind. Click here to learn more

Our occupational health team offer hearing tests to support you in meeting your legal obligations, as well as looking after the health of your team. It is recommended that hearing tests be carried out annually to comply with the Approved Code of Practice for the Management of Noise in the Workplace. 

What is involved?

Employees undergo a 15 minute hearing test usually at your premises (or TriEx premises by arrangement). TriEx will take care of all future test scheduling and ensure that consents are obtained for a full statistical and informative report on results to be released to management.

Hearing tests include:

  • Assessment of the employees past and present noise history (includes recreational)
  • A physical assessment of the ear to look for medical cause
  • Pure tone audiometry over eight frequencies in both ears
  • Explanation of the results to the employee
  • Education on responsibility to protect
  • Assessment of their hearing protection to comply with your annual audit of PPE

The noise output of your workplace should also be monitored every 5 years — or sooner if plant and equipment is purchased or modified. Our Occupational Hygienists can also assist you with carrying out a workplace noise assessment.

To learn more about our occupational health services you can contact our team on 0800 487 439 or email enquiries@triex.co.nz

Heat in the Workplace

We are into the last month of what is officially summer, however the hot weather is still going strong and it is important to remain vigilant around the risks when working in heat.

The safe working temperature is not based on air temperature alone. Factors to consider in regards to heat also include humidity, radiant heat (the heat emitted from an object or surface), physical activity and clothing.

Minimising the risk of harm for extreme temperatures can include isolation and engineering controls including:

  • Ventilation and air conditioning
  • Shielding
  • Process modification
  • Heat reduction

If you are working outdoors it is always important to cover up, apply a high SPF sunblock, and to stay hydrated. 

Read more →

Workplace Exposure Standards

WorkSafe NZ released the updated Workplace Exposure Standards (WES) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEI) – Edition 10 November 2018 – late last year. These new standards are available for download here

After consultation and review earlier last year there have been changes to 15 Work Exposure Standards and 17 biological exposure indices and these are highlighted in the preface.

An in depth explanation of what these are and their importance is available on the WorkSafe website here.

For any enquiries about biological exposure monitoring of your employees or environmental monitoring of your workplace please contact our team on enquiries@triex.co.nz or phone 0800 487 439.

How Healthy Is Your Heart?

February is Heart Health Month. A time to take a look at your health and the health of your heart.

Did you know: 

  • 186,000 people are living with heart disease – that’s 1 in 20 adults!
  • 33% of deaths annually are caused by cardiovascular disease
  • Every 90 minutes a New Zealander dies from heart disease.

The Heart Foundation has heaps of great information on healthy living over on their website including healthy recipes, how to choose healthy food options and great exercise tips – just follow this link.

Keep your eyes peeled for their collectors on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 February, or donate today on their website

TriEx can carry out Wellness assessments for your team. These assessments are a screening guide that enables you to adopt a targeted approach in identifying your health and wellness needs. These one on one assessments provide cardiovascular risk assessments of factors including blood pressure checks, cholesterol and glucose and the nurses providing advice on healthy living.

To learn more about our wellness services you can contact our team on 0800 487 439 or email enquiries@triex.co.nz

January 2019 Health, Safety and Wellness Update

Our latest Newsletter is out today. We have information on our 2019 Flu campaign, keeping your heart healthy, and managing stress.

We also have information on heat in the workplace, our comprehensive first aid and asbestos project management.

Read the full stories here.

Asbestos Health Monitoring Changes

WorkSafe have reviewed the components of health monitoring and when health monitoring should be completed for those that work with asbestos.

Health monitoring now no longer requires a chest X-ray to be taken either as baseline or for monitoring purposes. The emphasis for these medicals unless a Medical Practitioner recommends otherwise, must include demographic, medical and occupational history as well as spirometry measurements. Personal exposure including any relevant risk assessments and air monitoring carried out by the PCBU will be part of the full asbestos medical.

The frequency of these assessments has now changed to 2 yearly from work starting with asbestos, regardless of when an individual starts working for a PCBU.

Clients complete an asbestos respiratory questionnaire which investigates their previous and current potential exposure to asbestos and any relevant medical history. Spirometry is completed. Education is then given regarding respiratory protection.

A spirometry, or lung function test, looks at the following:

> Interprets how well the lungs are performing.
> Measures FEV1 – forced expiratory volume – the amount of air you can blow (huff) out in 1 second
> Measures FVC – forced vital capacity – the largest amount of air you can blow (huff) out after a large inhalation of air
> Identify employees at risk from hazardous air contaminants in the workplace

What’s involved?

Employees undergo a 30 minute appointment at our TriEx Health Clinics.

The Appointments include:

> Assessment of the employees past and present air contaminant history (includes recreational)
> Full Spirometry test
> Asbestos exposure and history questionnaire
> Chest X-Ray if recommended by Occupational Health Physician – referral is organised by TriEx
> Explanation of the results to the employee
> Education on responsibility to protect
> All test results are reviewed by an Occupational Health Physician
> Individual Reports are sent to the Company
> All documents including test results with information on asbestos are sent to the individual

To find out more please contact our health team on 0800 487 439 or email enquiries@triex.co.nz