Industry members rely on service laboratories for precise and timely analysis so they can make decisions on their process with confidence. Safe Environments is proud to be Australia’s first laboratory to be accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) for complying with the international standard ISO 16258-1 for respirable crystalline silica testing. Safe Environments is an occupational hygiene inspection body supported by their advanced materials characterization laboratory. Safe Environments has service laboratories in Sydney and Melbourne. They are working closely with various industries such as manufacturing, mining, construction, tunneling and the stone industry.

Complying with the new limits of detection and why timeliness is critical in prevent overexposure to respirable silica dust

In recent months Australia has seen an up-rise in the number of silicosis occurrences among tradesman due to the inhalation of respirable silica dust. This could be due to the mechanical treatment of silica in the workplace hence the Australian government has stepped up its measures to protect the employees’ health and safety with more stringent measures. In July 2020 states like Queensland have reduced the daily limit of exposure for respirable silica dust by half, making it 0.05 mg/m3. In-line with the stricter regulations, service laboratories like Safe Environments are under pressure to be able to provide measurement analysis within a short timeframe to prevent employees from overexposure to silica dust. Hence finding a methodology that is not only accurate in low limits of detection but also timeliness is critical.

Industry members can now be assured of Safe Environment’s highest level of testing conducted to ISO 16258-1:2015 standard

This accreditation is significant in response to the silicosis epidemic, being the only facility to provide respirable silica testing services to International Standards. Industry members can now be assured of the highest level of testing conducted to ISO 16258-1:2015 Workplace air — Analysis of respirable crystalline silica by X-ray diffraction (XRD). ISO 16258 differs from other standards as it requires both the α-quartz and cristobalite polymorphs of respirable crystalline silica to be analyzed. This is where the previous testing of only α-quartz may have led to the underreporting of exposures, particularly in the engineered benchtop stone industry.

XRD is the preferred methodology for more precise testing. It is less prone to mineral interferences and we see this as beneficial in complementing our existing NATA accredited FTIR services. This is particularly important with major tunnelling and infrastructure works across the east coast of Australia, where XRD could be used to overcome issues pertaining to precision testing. There was also an opportunity in XRD to semi-automate the process and optimise the measurement time to increase accuracy and reduce detection limits. Hence leading to greater confidence in the results so that timely decisions can be made to safeguard workers from overexposure to respirable crystalline silica.

Carl Strautins – Safe Environments Certified Occupational Hygienist
Safe Environment analyses respirable silica air filters on Malvern Panalytical’s Aeris X-ray diffractometer. It is a compact XRD which does not require external cooling. Analysis is easy as the air filters can be analyzed as is, with no sample preparation required. High-quality data is collected within 5 min for the main Quartz peak and can be conveniently viewed via the interactive touchpad.
Step size 0.02 deg 2Theta
DetectorUltra-sensitive PIXcel1D
Divergence slit 1 deg
Soller Slit 0.04 rad
Sample rotation 1 RPM

Interested to learn more about this application?

Did you know that within Australia, many states have been implementing stricter regulations in line with reducing the number of silicosis cases from workplace dust exposure. As of October 2020, Australia’s New South Wales parliament has implemented a passage of new laws. Australia’s Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said that under changes to the Work Health and Safety Amendment (Information Exchange) Bill silicosis, asbestos and mesothelioma will now be notifiable diseases and if acquired through workplace exposure they will be placed on a new Dust Diseases Register.

As your service laboratory or business starts taking steps to control workplace dust exposure, Malvern Panalytical wants you to know that we are here to support you. We have a strong and experienced application team on both the East and West coast of Australia. We are ready to demonstrate the power of the Aeris Benchtop XRD if you want to analyse using your samples. We are an active partner amongst many service laboratories, bringing value and expertise to a number of analytical techniques; whether in XRD, XRF non-destructive elemental analysis, fusion borate sample preparation, and more. For more information about how we can help your organization improve your analytical performance, please reach out to us at

Watch our webinar on respirable silica dust analysis and how easy it is for your lab to analyse with XRD

Carl is a guest speaker at our webinar on particulate air matter. He will share about the practical steps to setting up your calibration line on your XRD. For instance, how to develop reference filters and how to properly set up your calibration curve for accurate XRD quantification. View our webinar on demand here