Woodworking and furniture

Where are the hazards?

If you work with hardwood, softwood or wood composite boards, you are likely to be exposed to wood dust. Wood dust can cause serious health problems:

  • Hardwood dust can cause cancer, particularly of the nose.
  • Settled dust contains the fine particles that are most likely to damage the lungs

What are the risks?

Wood dust is a common cause of occupational asthma. In fact, carpenters, joiners and those working in the furniture industry are four times more likely to get asthma compared with other UK workers.

How to control

All cutting and machining of wood will produce dust, but there are some simple things you can do to reduce how much you breathe in:

  • Always use dust extraction. For the dustiest jobs (sanding, assembly and cleaning), you also need to wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
  • Don't sweep up or use compressed airlines – use wet methods or a suitable industrial vacuum cleaner
  • Regularly check that all extraction systems work properly
  • Ensure you have regular health surveillance.

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Updated: 2021-10-05