30th March 2022
HSE Wood Dust Inspection Campaign
From April 2022 the HSE has announced that it will be embarking on a targeted inspection of woodworking businesses across the UK – specifically looking at wood dust control.
What is the Aim?
The HSE has estimated that there are around 12,00 death per annum attributed to lung diseases which are linked to exposure to hazardous substances – which includes both hardwood and softwood.
All wood dust can cause serious health problem such as asthma, with hardwood dusts being linked to nasal cancer also. The risks are obviously present in woodworking workshops and factories.
Inspectors will be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, being trained and competent, planning their work and using the right controls such as extraction systems, respiratory protective equipment and appropriate housekeeping- including the need to avoid dry sweeping.
If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure people are protected.
What Should I do
- Ensure your COSHH assessment for wood dust is suitable and sufficient.
- Ensure that the necessary maintenance and inspection of any extraction systems is undertaken – including the mandatory 14 monthly thorough examinations.
- Ensure that face fit testing has been undertaken for any workers requiring to use respiratory protective equipment.
- Ensure air monitoring has been undertaken to provide evidence that employee exposure is below the legal limits for wood dust (note that hardwood dust now has a workplace exposure limit reduced from 5 to 3 mg/m3.)
- Be Warned – although this inspection is predominantly focused on wood dust, the HSE will inevitably be interested in all workplace health and safety issues that are uncovered during the inspection. You can expect enforcement action to be taken if issues are noted along with a ‘Fee for Intervention’ for any actions that a visiting inspector requires to put in writing.
If you require any further advice or have concerns about wood dust control within your business, then call our health and safety advice line today on 0300 303 5228.