A world-wide pesticide health problems has been solved by a Western Australian invention.
The invention, already in use overseas, today won a Jobsafe Award for its potential to prevent pesticide poisoning and disease amongst agricultural workers and their families.
It is a small pressure-regulating device which virtually eliminates spray drift, a major factor in the contamination of spray operators, passers-by, nearby crops and the natural environment.
The Spray Management Valve was conceived and developed by two Perth men, Laurie Down and Ken Davey.
The developing company, Fluid Technology (Aust) Limited, is negotiating a joint venture proposal with China to manufacture the valve for that country's 40-million backpack sprays.
Productivity and Labour Relations Minister Yvonne Henderson today presented the Jobsafe Award to Fluid Technology for its outstanding contribution to health and safety in the workplace.
Mrs Henderson said it was the first device in the world to overcome the major environmental and occupational health problems of spray drift contamination.
"It is one of those truly great inventions that is so simple you wonder why nobody thought of it before," she said.
"The Government's emphasis on occupational health and safety has resulted in a drop of 14.7 per cent in the rate of occupational injury in Western Australia over the past three years - and now a WA invention is making a huge impact on occupational health and safety worldwide."
Mrs Henderson said the Spray Management Valve solved the spray drift problem by ensuring a constant spray pressure through the nozzle, regardless of the pressure exerted by the operator.
This kept droplets at correct size for leaf coverage, and at the same time eliminated the fine mist emitted when operators exerted too much pressure, either with back-pack or mechanical boom sprays.
The device has been tested and acclaimed by the International Pesticide Application Research Centre, the world's leading chemical application research organisation.
"In addition to its health and ecological advantages, the valve has important productivity bonuses for our farmers because it enables pesticides to be used more economically," Mrs Henderson said.
"A further occupational health advantage of this was that with smaller volumes of pesticide required, backpack spray operators can now carry lighter loads, reducing the risk of back injury.