A tale of two schools - case study

The problem

Wood dust is a hazardous substance arising from the use of woodworking machines. Breathing in wood dust can cause asthma. However, it is easily controlled by using local exhaust ventilation (LEV). Two new schools had very different experiences when it came to installing LEV in their woodworking departments.

The solution

The Council for school A went with the cheapest tender. They didn't consult the end users of the system, didn't write a clear specification of what they wanted and didn't consider long term maintenance or running costs.

School B had good communications with all stakeholders. They produced a good LEV specification, had a well designed system installed that provided adequate control of dust. But, it was a slightly more expensive system than school A.


The first system installed at school A turned out to be inadequate and did not control wood dust. This can happen because it is the wrong type or because it is not properly installed or maintained.

School A had to have their system removed and another system installed before staff and pupils were finally protected. All of this cost twice as much money as getting it right first time.

Staff and pupils at school B were all protected from the outset, their running costs were low and the system was easy to maintain.


  • It helps to get the right people involved in LEV design or selection
  • Make sure all are aware of what the LEV needs to do
  • Get advice from a reputable supplier
  • Make sure the LEV is installed properly and works effectively
  • Have a clearly defined specification

An example of a well designed system that controls well and is easy to operate and maintain and has low running costs can be viewed in the video.

Video of effective LEV system in a woodworking classroom

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Updated 2021-01-20