The wood industry, also known as the lumber industry, comprises many economic activities from forestry and timber trade to the production of timber, primary forest products such as furniture and secondary products like wood pulp.

Wood is a natural, fibrous tissue which is found in the trunk and branches of trees and plants and removes CO2 from the atmosphere. As an organic material, it is made up of cellulose fibres and lignin. The properties of wood are complex, but we have still managed to harness its diverse characteristics to create what appears to be an unlimited number of uses.

Having been utilised for hundreds of years, wood is used as fuel, as a building material for construction, for making furniture, paper and all types of tools, as well as for material engineered from wood chips or fibres. Softwood tends to be used for the production of fuel and paper and hardwood is often used for furniture and floors, however, both can be used for building and construction.

The wood industry plays an important part in today’s world economy. The main products are produced at sawmills and production plants and include the manufacture of numerous raw materials for products such as doors, windows and furniture. Up to half of the material produced goes into wood products and by-products such as sawdust, chips and shavings, used for the pulp and paper and fibreboard industries make up the rest.

When tools and machines are used to cut wood and wood products within sawmills and other areas of the wood, carpentry and furniture industries, wood dust is created.

How are people exposed to wood dust?

Individuals who use machinery or tools to cut or shape wood for a living, such as carpenters and joiners, are exposed to wood dust and may inhale unhealthy amounts. When dust is inhaled, it can get lodged in the nose, throat and other airways and this can lead to a variety of health problems, some of them very serious.

Those most at risk to high exposure include machine operators in the wood products industry, furniture and cabinet production industry and the transportation equipment industry. Wood dust has been named as one of the main causes of occupational asthma in the UK and has also been linked to some nasal and sinus cancers. Settled dust also contains the fine particles that are most likely to damage the lungs.

How to protect workers?

COSHH requires companies to protect their workers from the hazards and subsequent health risks of wood dust. The use of compressed air lines for sweeping up or moving dust is not recommended as it can disturb the dust making it more likely to be inhaled. For particularly dusty jobs such as sanding, extraction should always be used, and it is advised that workers should also wear additional and appropriate PPE protection such as a face and nose mask.

Is there a safer solution for removal?

When it comes to removing wood dust, in contrast to using compressed air, which can be very dangerous, blower-driven air has been shown to provide a safer and highly effective means of removing fibres, dust and water from people, surfaces and environments.

By using blower-driven air, the JetBlack Safety range of personnel Cleaning Booths can provide a safer and more convenient solution for personnel clean-down. What’s more, the product range has been designed as an easy-to-use alternative to compressed air, as the low pressure, high-velocity air produced poses no threat to the safety and can be directed at almost any part of the body. This gives organisations peace of mind and users a safer solution for all de-dusting operations.

The JetBlack Safety Cleaning Booth is particularly suited to agitating and removing all forms of dust from employees’ work clothes; a process which typically takes no longer than 30 seconds. The dust is then safely extracted away from the user and collected in the HEPA H14 extractor.

Personnel Cleaning Booth applications include:

  • Wood Working Companies
  • Paper Manufacturing and Processing
  • Construction Sites