The Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) has calculated that almost 2.8 million tonnes (60%) of the UK’s waste wood is getting recycled. This figure, along with the number of companies involved, is expected to rise.
There have been a number of serious fires that have occurred at sites involved in the storage, treatment and handling of wood and wood based products. There should therefore be adequate controls in place to prevent fires and, should a fire occur, that the risks to human health and the environment are minimised. Reducing fire risk at waste management sites has been produced to help operators and other duty holders to control these risks.
Wood recycling involves loading waste wood into a chipping machine by shovel or grabber then transferring the chipped wood to a screening process by shovel or conveyor. This produces high levels of wood dust and employee exposure levels can potentially be very high. There is a particular problem during the regular cleaning and maintenance of machinery that has to take place as this often involves compressed air.
HSE has commissioned a report to assess the extent of the health risk from this exposure to wood dust that provides details of the problems:
To reduce the risks to their employees’ health from exposure to wood dust, recycling companies should: