Wood dust: A hazard encountered by many workers
The dangers of wood dust
Wood was probably the first material to be used and shaped by humans. As a ‘natural’ product itcould be perceived as less harmful than man-made materials, but this would be a mistake.
Some types of wood are in themselves poisonous. Here in Britain we are familiar with the toxicity of yew and laburnum; in Australia, people are equally wary of milky mangrove. The occupational risks of wood, though, come about when it is sawn or sanded, creating dust in the process.
Wood dust is flammable and can cause a fire or even explosion. Although explosions are rare, they can be devastating; four people were killed in 2015 when wood dust ignited at Bosley Mill near Macclesfield. On a more day-to-day level, it is all too easy to slip
on dust lying on the floor. However, the hazard most commonly presented by wood dust arises from prolonged exposure to itin the working environment, which can lead to a range of health problems, from allergies to cancer.
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