Anyone who has ever worked in a woodworking shop often know the problems associated with poor ventilation and filtration systems. Sawing and cutting often produce piles of wood chips that clutter the work space and create slip hazards. Sanding and fine wood working also generate large amounts of dust that can be easily distributed around the entire shop, making it difficult to breathe or even to see. It can also produce a potential fire hazard from a simple electrical spark. This can create a dangerous work environment that can be easily avoided with the proper combination of metal fabrication, industrial cyclones and airlock feeders.
Beyond the obvious issues related to the fine dust particles involved with woodworking, there are additional health hazards that every woodworker needs to know. Studies have shown an increased awareness of these hazards by regulatory authorities. Australia has already classified all wood dust as carcinogenic, and the 2002 Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations has a legal maximum exposure limit of 5 milligrams per cubic meter in any given 8 hour period.
What does this mean? This means that every business needs to take the necessary steps to reduce employee exposure to the dust generated through common woodworking practices. Many shops need more than just standard filters and collectors, and should consider custom metal fabrications that best utilize their shop space and working configurations.
Factors to be considered
There are other factors that must also be considered when working with hardwoods and softwoods alike. Some wood have toxic elements in the bark and leaves, such as beech which has a known sensitizer that can lead to nasopharyngeal cancer.
There are many woods that are treated with man made chemicals ranging from strippers and solvents to glue and stains. That doesn't even include herbicides and pesticides that are often used to fend off natural predators. Anyone who has used pressure-treated lumber knows it can be so saturated with chemical preservatives that it will actually be wet when it is being handled.
Others can have mold infestations that are even more dangerous than man made chemicals. Many woodworkers develop allergies to these molds, as well as to the wood dust itself, after as little as one exposure.
Oleander, sassafras and Yew wood are all considered to be a direct toxin that are directly correlated to cardiac, respiratory, skin and eye health issues. These types of woods need to be handled with extreme care.
The dust from these woods and many others can lead to various cancers, mild to severe allergic reactions, diminished lung capacities and even death in some circumstances. Having an air filtration system designed with industrial cyclones in conjunction with the right metal fabrications can eliminate these hazards.
Toxicity of Common Woods
Birch sensitizer respiratory Beech sensitizer, nasopharyngeal cancer eyes, skin Elm irritant eyes, skin Hemlock nasopharyngeal cancer respiratory Mahogany sensitizer, pneumoitis alveolotis skin, respiratory Maple sensitizer, pneumoitis alveolotis respiratory Oak sensitizer, nasopharyngeal cancer eyes, skin Oleander direct toxin, nausea, malaise, cancer eyes, skin, respiratory Redwood sensitizer, nasopharyngeal cancer, pneumoitis alveolotis eyes, skin, respiratory Black Walnut sensitizer eyes, skin Teak sensitizer, pneumoitis alveolotis eyes, skin, respiratory
The safety of you and your employees should always be your first consideration in any work environment. Many handymen and hobbyists have small work environments and may not realize that they are unnecessarily exposed to the fine hazards of wood working.
Kristi has worked with many species of wood for well over a decade, and she has personal experience with developing allergies to certain wood dust and molds throughout his years of exposure. She recommends professional guidance with metal fabrication and industrial cyclones for manufacturing the best system for your needs before these health conditions manifest.