Key controls for wood dust
* Dust control:
o Provide dust extraction (also known as local exhaust ventilation or LEV) at woodworking machines to remove dust before it can get breathed in.
o Keep the extraction and collection system maintained to make sure it continues to work efficiently.
o It is a legal requirement to have dust extraction equipment examined by a competent person at least every 14 months. (Your insurers or LEV supplier may have competent persons who can do this for you.)
o Use a vacuum system to clear up wood dust – either a free standing vacuum cleaner or preferably a vacuum pipe attached to your extraction system. Vacuum cleaners should be suitable and have a HEPA filter.
o For particularly dusty tasks such as sanding use RPE as well as LEV.
* Don’t use airlines or dry sweeping to clear dust away:
o Using airlines and dry sweeping of wood dust can cause high peaks of dust exposure and simply spread the dust around.
* Carry out health checks:
o Because wood dust causes asthma, you need to make sure that any health affects are picked up early. This can be done using health surveillance.
o For most woods, a low level of health surveillance is sufficient. This consists of a questionnaire administered before anyone starts work where they are exposed to wood dust, and then repeated annually. These questionnaires also provide information on what to do if you think someone has been affected.
o A higher level of health surveillance, including lung function testing, is needed for exposures to western red cedar which is a known asthmagen.