Toolbox talk 2: Controlling wood dust

This talk can be delivered in the workplace as part of a team meeting, training session or induction. It could be led by a health and safety representative, supervisor or manager.

Attendance record

Site:                                                  
Date:  
Supervisor:  
Attendees:  

How is wood dust harmful to our health?
What are some ways we can protect ourselves from breathing in wood dust?

Prompt: ask your team to think about what they remember about health risks and controls from toolbox talk 1.

Health risks

  • Lung damage – breathing problems and diseases such as occupational asthma, cancer and allergies.
  • Harms intestines and vital organs if swallowed.
  • Skin irritation.
  • Eye damage.

Controls

  • Use local exhaust ventilation (LEV).
  • Use on tool extraction.
  • Use water and wet working methods.
  • Use the right tool for the job.
  • Use the correct RPE and PPE.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner.
  • No dry sweeping.
  • Limit time doing dusty work.
  • Change out of dusty clothes when job completed.
  • Wash face and hands immediately after finishing a dusty task and before eating, drinking and smoking.

What are some processes where we use LEV?

Prompt: List the processes at your workplace that use LEV.

LEV is one of the best ways to control dust at the source. The hood of the LEV system captures the wood dust and sucks it away from you.

On-tool extraction is LEV fitted onto a tool such as a grinder or saw. It sucks away the dust before it is gets into the air where you can breathe it.

[image] Processing of wood dust inside of LEV system.
Local exhaust ventilation
On-tool extraction
On-tool extraction

Using and looking after local exhaust ventilation

  • Make sure you know how to use the LEV at our workplace.
  • Make sure to position the hood as close as possible to the source of the wood dust.
  • Always check it is working properly before use.

Before using check:

  • Moving parts that wear out such as fan bearings.
  • Non-moving parts such as hood, ducts and seals.
  • Replaceable parts such as filters.
  • Report any defects to your supervisor and wait until it’s fixed before doing the task.

Using respiratory protection

[Image] Man checking respirator pressure by pressing it towards his mouth and nose with one palm for positive fit and with both palms over filters for negative fit
Left: Positive pressure fit check - Right: Negative pressure fit check
    • Check safe operating procedures to see what RPE and PPE (personal protective equipment) you need for the task.
    • Have your employer or PCBU arrange for a fit test when you are provided with new close-fitting RPE, and at least annually.
    • Some types of RPE require a tight seal around your face to be effective.
    • Complete the positive pressure fit check and the negative pressure fit check to be sure there is a good seal before each use. Perform a visual check to ensure the RPE is clean and in good condition.
    • Be clean shaven to get a proper seal for close-fitting RPE, otherwise you will need to wear a powered air purifying respirator.

See the Respiratory Protective Equipment – Advice for Employees fact sheet for more information.

[image] Man wearing respirator over his mouth and nose with straps passing around the head.
Re-usable half-face respirator

Looking after respiratory protection

  • Wash and dry rubber and silicone respirators after using. Do not wash the cartridge and be careful not to damage the valves.
  • Look after the respirator by storing it in a sealed container.
  • Store your RPE in a clean dry place, away from dust, oil and sunlight. Store RPE in a box so it won’t get crushed.
  • Check it regularly for signs of damage.