Can’t see the wood for the dust – HSE inspections

Greg Davies 2022

Greg Davies
Director of Market Development, Assurity Consulting
9th June 2023

Over the recent past (2022/23) they have undertaken over 1,000 inspections, finding 78% of woodworking businesses “were not compliant in protecting workers from respiratory sensitisers (primarily hardwood, softwood and composite material’s dust).”

Targeting more organisations in the coming months the stated purpose of inspections is to “ensure dutyholders know the established health risks associated with woodworking and have effective controls in place to keep workers safe and protect their respiratory health.”

While the key elements (to managing woodworking safely) remain, risk and workplace management and training and supervision, HSE have identified four main areas of concern, covering:

  • Dry sweeping - avoiding practises (such as dry sweeping and using compressed airlines to clean) that create dust clouds;
  • Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) – making sure installed LEV systems and being maintained and serviced properly;
  • Health Surveillance – provision of relevant health surveillance for employees; and
  • Face fit testing – demonstrating appropriate face fit testing is being carried out.

With 402 enforcement actions already resulting from the 2022/23 inspections, investing in reviewing your controls now would be a very good idea.

Further information on the HSE campaign on wood dust can be found at: Wood dust - Work Right to keep Britain safe