Woodworker - common causes of asthma
Hardwood, softwood and wood composite dusts are produced when wood is machined or sanded. These dusts are a common cause of occupational asthma.
Asthma mainly affects workers in the furniture and joinery industries.
The woodworking wood dust page and COSHH Essentials give detailed advice on control.
- Use a dust extraction system and keep it properly maintained and working correctly.
- For dusty jobs, you may also need to wear respiratory protective equipment.
- Never sweep up dust or use compressed air to disperse it. Clean up using an industrial vacuum cleaner with suitable filters.
- You need appropriate health surveillance.
Reduce disease - reduce exposure to wood dusts
The dustiest tasks are sanding, assembly and cleaning, and these usually require wearing a respirator in addition to using dust extraction.
Settled dust is easily raised. In addition to the health risks, it is also a fire and possible dust explosion hazard, so cleaning is important.
These case studies are all real incidents with real and often serious long-term consequences for the people involved.
More general advice for employers
You can find more guidance and information for woodworkers on the Asthma publications pages.