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Here's a Special Report & Membership Renewal Update at the end.

Wood dust is now considered a Group 1 carcinogen, ie; a substance known to cause cancer in humans. Wood dust is made up of a conglomeration of different substances derived from hardwood or softwood trees.

The build-up of dust in the lungs can cause lung inflammation and eventually scar tissue (fibrosis). This could lead to breathing impairment. These conditions usually develop slowly over many years and symptoms may not appear until severe, irreversible changes have taken place.

The importance of particle size in dust exposure
Dust (created or released by woodworking processes or activities) is made up of particles that range in size from relatively large to very small. Large particles fall to the ground quickly and are generally too large to be breathed in.
Smaller dust particles can stay airborne for a significant amount of time and can be classified into two groups:
  • Inhalable dust (smaller than 100 micrometres (µm)) - visible dust which can affect your upper respiratory system (the nose, mouth, throat or upper respiratory tract).
  • Respirable dust (smaller than 10 µm) - these dust particles are so small that they are invisible under normal lighting conditions. Their extremely small size also means they can be breathed deep into your lungs and lead to lung damage and are present in the air long after the process has ceased.
Reported health effects associated with exposure to dust from wood products include:
  • Skin disorders such as allergic dermatitis – certain timbers which are known to produce adverse health effects and sensitisation and include; Black Bean, Merbau, Maranti, Red Cedar, Silky Oak, Spotted Gum, Cypress Pin and Camphor Laurel.
  • Asthma and impaired lung function
  • Nose irritation, rhinitis (runny nose), violent sneezing, blocked nose and nose bleeds
  • Throat irritation, and sore and watering eyes
  • Nasal Carcinoma. A rare type of nasal cancer has also been reported in people who have worked with hard woods in very dusty wood-working environments with little or no dust control in place.
Basic Preventative Safety Measures
Simple changes to work practices can minimise the level of wood dust in the workplace, for example:
  1. Control dust at the source. Ensure the use of vacuum and direct dust extraction during the cutting or grinding processes or during clean up.
  2. Regularly cleaning or emptying of dust collection equipment, do not leave it for the next user of the machine, and use PPE when doing so.
  3. Using methods for cleaning up such as damping down before sweeping,
  4. Always use Australian Standard dust masks, respirators and eye protection when cutting into or grinding wood products.
  5. DO NOT use compressed air or blowers to clear work benches or the to blow dust off wood products except for inaccessible areas of workshop that cannot be accessed by a vacuum.
  6. DO NOT use compressed air to remove dust from skin or clothing, use a vacuum.
  7. Wash your face and hands after work and before eating.

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