Woodworker develops occupational asthma from making garden sheds


After being made redundant, a skilled joiner in his late 50s was delighted to find a job making garden sheds. His work involved sawing 'western red cedar' wood.

Within a few months, he was wheezing and coughing after being at work, though at first his symptoms eased at the weekend. But even that relief soon ended and he was constantly wheezy and bringing up sputum.

HSE investigation

HSE visited, raising concern about health and safety standards in the factory.


The joiner went to see his GP. He was diagnosed with asthma, and referred to a chest specialist for diagnostic tests.

These identified that it was western red cedar that had caused his occupational asthma. The joiner was taken off that work.

However, the company found a replacement wood, and the joiner is still employed. If the company had taken this positive action at the outset, months of worry could have been avoided for the joiner and his family.

The Your trade section of this site provides top tips and advice on how to protect yourself if you are a woodworker.

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