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 woodworking COSHH Essentials give detailed advice on control.

Top tips

  • 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.

Case studies

These case studies are all real incidents with real and often serious long-term consequences for the people involved.

Further information

More general advice for employers


You can find more guidance and information for woodworkers on the Asthma publications pages.

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