HSE Inspectors are currently targeting woodworking and metalworking businesses

Attention all woodworking and metalworking businesses! Brace yourselves for an unannounced visit from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

As part of their unwavering commitment to ensuring workplace safety, the HSE is intensifying their efforts within the woodworking and metalworking industries. With their 'Dust Kills' campaign in full swing, the HSE has issued a stern warning: surprise inspections are imminent throughout 2023 and 2024. It's time to take proactive measures to safeguard your workplace and protect your employees.

The shocking reality of last year's 12,000 worker fatalities, directly attributed to lung diseases stemming from occupational exposure, serves as a chilling reminder of the long-term consequences of neglecting the dangers of dust and other irritants.

The HSE and Woodworking Businesses

The HSE's recent inspections within the woodworking sector uncovered a distressing truth: a staggering 78% of woodworking businesses were found to be non-compliant in adequately safeguarding their employees against the dangers of wood dust. Consider the gravity of that statistic for a moment.

These findings prompted the HSE to take 402 enforcement actions, underscoring the urgency for comprehensive safety measures to be put in place across woodworking businesses.

Neglecting the dangers posed by hardwood, softwood, and composite material dust could not only jeopardise the well-being of your workforce but also expose your business to significant legal and financial ramifications.

£20,000 Fine for London Joinery

The recent case of a joinery firm in London being slapped with a substantial £20,000 fine serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of neglecting dust control measures.

HSE inspector Marcus Pope said: “This case sends out a clear message to the industry that HSE will prosecute when inspectors find serious health and safety failings." 

What Are the UK Legal Limits for Softwood and Hardwood Dust?

For those operating within the woodworking sector, it's crucial to remain aware of the UK legal limits for softwood and hardwood. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 stipulate that the Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) for softwood is 5 milligrams per cubic meter of air (mg/m³) for an 8-hour time-weighted average, while the WEL for hardwood is set at 3 mg/m³. To put this in clearer terms, this quantity of dust is roughly equivalent to 1 grain of rice of hardwood dust or 2 grains of rice of softwood dust when dispersed in a confined space like a 3m x 3m x 3m room.

Regular exposure to wood dust exceeding these legal limits can lead to a range of health complications, including respiratory issues, nasal cancer, and even dermatitis, underscoring the critical need for robust protective measures within woodworking businesses.

The HSE and Metalworking Businesses

The HSE's intensified scrutiny within the metalworking sector underscores the pressing need for a comprehensive overhaul of safety protocols and practices to ensure the well-being of metalworking employees.

Recent research conducted by FEIN has indicated that more than 1 in 3 (36%) metalworking professionals do not feel that health and safety is a top priority within their company, and over a quarter (28%) are worried about their safety at work.

Regular exposure to weld fumes in the metalworking industry can have severe health implications, including the risk of occupational asthma, lung cancer, and various respiratory diseases.

In the UK, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 requires employers to control exposure to harmful substances, including weld fumes. The legislation mandates that engineering controls, such as local exhaust ventilation, must be implemented to minimize exposure and ensure compliance with the specified WEL.

Dust Arrest Can Help You Become HSE Compliant

We have a team of dust experts who can advise on the best dust solutions to suit your site, helping you to protect your workers and avoid potential fines.

We also provide dust talks for employees on the best practice for preventing occupational lung disease and staying safe whilst working with dangerous dust. Another service we provide is real-time monitoring and analysis of air quality to deliver an accurate record of personal exposure levels to dangerous substances, enabling you to make informed decisions and take proactive steps to minimise potential risks.

Our range of specialised solutions, including Tool Shrouds, Dustblockers, Dura Vacuums, and Weld Fume Extractors, provides comprehensive protection for workers and also the companies they work for.

The Time to Act is Now

The HSE's unwavering commitment to workplace safety leaves no room for complacency. Don't risk hefty fines or compromise the well-being of your workforce!

Reach out to Dust Arrest today and take the first step towards fostering a safer and healthier work environment for all.

Fill out our contact form, give us a call on 0800 980 0105, or email us at sales@dustarrest.com.

Your commitment to safety today will safeguard the well-being of your employees and protect the future of your business. 

Remember, the HSE Inspectors will be visiting metalworking and woodworking businesses without warning, so it pays to be prepared.

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