Wood Dust Toolbox Talk

There are a handful of risks when it comes to working around wood dust consistently. Educate your crews on those risks with this toolbox talk.

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Wood Dust Safety Talk

When you work in an industry that is known to have high amounts of wood dust, there are hazards you should be aware of. Wood Dust is listed as one of the 119 agents that are carcinogenic to humans. That means that it has known properties to cause cancer in people.

Many people are exposed to wood dust at both work and at home. It is important that you are aware of the dangers and proper ways to avoid being exposed to high quantities. When you have a better understanding of the hazards that there are. You can make better decisions on protecting yourself.

Overexposure To Wood Dust Health Risks

Prolonged exposure to wood dust can cause difficulties for your health. The dust itself getting into your lungs is bad enough, but there are additional concerns. Mold and fungi are two biological organisms that are commonly found on wood. Both of these two organisms can cause significant health concerns for people. When wood is being processed, there are chemicals used that can be harmful as well, such as:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Copper Naphthenate
  • Pentachlorophenol
  • According TO OSHA

    Wood dust has been a concern to the health of people for a long time. For many reasons besides cancer and major illnesses. Some other problems that you can face are:

  • Dermatitis
  • Allergic respiratory effects
  • Mucosal
  • Non allergic respiratory effects
  • Wood sap and wood dust can both be problematic to people. If you come into contact with wood sap it can cause contact dermatitis or other allergic reactions. Your respiratory tract can be impacted by the dust. This is particularly harmful to individuals who suffer from asthma. Some additional problems can also happen, such as:

  • Hypersensitivity Pneumonia
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • How to Reduce Wood Dust Exposure

    It is vital for your health and those working around you, that the right precautions are taken to reduce the amount of wood dust exposure that you have. Taking the right steps to be proactive can be beneficial to your health.

    Engineering Controls

    There are engineering controls that can be put into place to help keep you protected. It can reduce the amount of dust that is being directed towards you while working. Ventilation is a big factor in engineering controls. The best option is to put these ventilation systems near where the dust is the worst.

    Good Housekeeping

    Being a good housekeeper is just as important in the workplace as it is at your home. When you are in an environment that poses potential health risks, cleaning as you go is important. Cleaning up after each job and in between as possible, can help to cut down on the amount of exposure that you have.


    Any time that you are in an area that has risks, the proper PPE should always be worn. It’s designed to protect you from the elements that you are surrounded by. In this case, you need protection from high quantities of wood dust. A respirator may be necessary for certain situations to protect yourself.

    Avoid The Point of Operations

    If you have the ability to step away from the area that is creating the dust, do so. Apply the necessary precautions that you can to protect yourself as much as possible. Consider putting up blocks to keep the majority of the wood dust away from you while working.

    Signs and Symptoms to Be Aware Of

    It is important that all employees know the signs and symptoms to be aware of when working around wood dust. There are mild symptoms that you may feel from irritation and then there are more severe ones that can be detrimental to your health. It is a good idea that all employees understand what to watch for to better protect themselves.

    Eye, Nose, and Throat Irritation

    Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat are common when working around wood dust. It is considered an occupational hazard of the job. While this is usually not harmful to you, in excessive amounts it can become a bigger problem.

    Shortness of Breath

    If you are experiencing shortness of breath, you need to seek medical attention. This can occur when the walls of your lungs become inflamed or your air passage is swollen. One of the big concerns with this is it turning into pneumonia or something worse.


    Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an infection in the eye. This can occur in the eye when the mucus membrane gets irritated. Most likely, you have gotten wood dust in your eye and it is causing some problems. Most of the time you are going to need to see a medical professional for an antibiotic.

    Skin Irritation

    This can be a common occurrence for individuals. Especially, if you already experience sensitive skin. Dermatitis and allergic reactions can occur from wood dust or wood sap. Some cases can be mild and able to be treated with home care. While some may need the help of a medical professional.

    Woods Most Common To Cause Health Concerns

    When it comes to working with wood, certain ones are more prone to cause problems. You should always be aware of the type that you are working with, just in case a health concern arises. Some of the ones that are more known to irritate people are:

  • Alder
  • Birch
  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Spruce
  • Teak
  • Walnut
  • Rosewood
  • Teak Walnut
  • Mahogany
  • Cedar
  • Douglas Fir
  • They all have a different reaction than they are commonly known to cause. Which vary from cancers to dermatitis, and everything between. If you are someone who works predominantly in this type of industry, you should educate yourself on these hazards that can occur.

    Those Most At Risk

    Being exposed to wood dust from time to time is going to happen. It is the ones who are continually exposed that are most at risk. The workers that fall into this category and can suffer illnesses due to wood dust are:

  • Construction workers
  • Shipbuilding workers
  • Carpenters
  • Sawmill workers
  • Logging workers
  • Furniture engineers
  • Cabinetry workers
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