Bakery products

Main causes of injury

Main occupational ill health risks

Flour dust

Flour dust can cause:

Flour dust is a hazardous substance as defined under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 (as amended). Although the overall incidence rate of occupational asthma has decreased since 1999, the rate of new cases amongst bakers as reported by occupational physicians is now the highest of any occupation in any industry.

Flour dust has been set a workplace exposure limit (WEL) comprising a long-term exposure limit of 10mg/m3 (averaged over 8 hours) and a short-term exposure limit of 30mg/m3 (averaged over 15 minutes). However, flour dust is an asthmagen and exposure should therefore be reduced as far below the WEL as is reasonably practicable. By adopting good control practice, HSE considers that less than 2mg/m3 (averaged over 8 hours) is usually achievable. Published guidance on engineering controls and good working practices to prevent dust becoming airborne is available from the Federation of Bakers.

Some bakery additives/bread improvers contain enzymes (eg fungal alpha amylase) which are potent sensitisers, so exposure to them should be minimised. This may be achieved by using improvers in liquid, paste or dust suppressed powder form.

Find out how low-dust flours can reduce asthma risks for bakers.

Industry specific guidance

Updated 2021-09-01