Woodworking Dust Collection Systems

Reducing the Risk of Woodworking Dust Exposure

Sawmills and furniture manufacturers are two of the leading producers of wood dust. The sawmill and wood production industry, alone, is a $31 billion business that has been rebounding quickly since the recession. These kinds of operations produce wood dust in high volumes and in a wide variety of particulate sizes.

Wood dust may seem like one of the more benign dusts, due to its source material, but exposure to it has been linked with serious health problems. Woodworking equipment tends to throw this dust around a facility, as anyone in these industries knows, so addressing the dust is often a challenge. However, the evidence is in that a worker's exposure to wood dust needs to be limited. Fortunately, methods exist to remediate this dust, protecting both workers and property.


Exposure Risks and Regulations for Woodworking and Workshop Dust

Exposure Risks and Regulations for Woodworking and Workshop Dust

Cutting and sanding in a woodworking facility and workshops causes dust problems for workers in the immediate vicinity, as well as for those farther away. Wood shop dust has both external and internal effects on the body. Some compounds in wood, such as those found in sap, can be irritating to the skin, causing dermatitis and other allergic reactions. The skin can be sensitized to wood dust, as well. If this happens, even low-level exposure to the dust can cause a reaction. Skin and eye irritation is common around wood dust, as well as prolonged colds.

The inhalation risks of wood dust are serious. Wood dust can produce allergic respiratory symptoms, asthma, pneumonitis, and chronic bronchitis. Sensitization can occur with the respiratory system, as well, producing allergic and asthma symptoms even at low exposures. Worse yet, exposure to wood dust has been linked with various forms of cancer.

In addition to its health risks, wood dust carries a risk that many other dusts don't: fire and explosion. Combustible dusts, such as wood dust, can lead to a dust explosion. If enough dust is present in an enclosed space, it can be ignited by a spark, cigarette ash, overheated bearing, or any number of other small ignition hazards. Such an explosion could be violent enough to destroy a facility and injure or kill workers.


Regulations for Controlling Woodworking Dust

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates wood dust in the workplace. It does this by issuing permissible exposure limits (PEL's) for the dust. Regulations address two kinds of dust: nuisance dust and “total dust, respirable fraction.” OSHA's limit for nuisance dust is 15 mg/m3. The limit for respirable dust is 5 mg/m3. The limit for respirable dust is more stringent because it is more harmful to workers. This latter limit is measured over an 8-hour time-weighted average.

Other agencies and organizations recommend a stricter regulation. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), recommends a limit of 1 mg/m3 for total dust. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) suggests even stricter limits. It has suggested a standard for western red cedar, due to its particular connection to asthma, of 0.5 mg/m3. Neither of these groups' recommendations have any force of law, but they are still worth considering. OSHA usually looks to ACGIH for guidance on the future of regulations.

Failure to comply with OSHA regulations can lead to serious fines. It also makes an employer vulnerable to lawsuits and other legal liabilities. The primary reason to meet wood dust regulations, however, is to protect your employees and your property.

RoboVent Wood Dust Collector Solutions

RoboVent offers a wide variety of wood dust collectors and engineering services. While wood dust is not toxic, its major challenge is its high volume. A source capture solution would allow you to collect dust at its point of origin. An ambient capture system, on the other hand, collects dust from the entire facility. RoboVent offers industry-leading dust collectors of both types. RoboVent can also integrate the two, for an even more comprehensive solution.


Traditional Configuration

The traditional configuration maximizes performance with ductwork sized for optimal airflow for your specific applications.


VentMapping® Engineering

VentMapping is a systematic engineering and design service. Our comprehensive approach helps us find the safest, most effective and most efficient way to meet your goals.

RoboVent Maintenance Program, Clean Air and Industrial Air Filtration Solutions

ClientCare Maintenance Program

ClientCare lets you leverage RoboVent's expertise so you can reduce the burden on your maintenance staff and stay focused on your core business.


Fusion™ Series

A dust collector on the cutting edge of air filtration. The Fusion Series delivers exceptional performance and cost savings in a powerful, simple package.


Endurex RMO Cartridge Filters, Dust & Fume Air Filters

Endurex RMO Cartridge Filters

RoboVent's premium filter engineered to provide the best filtration protection for your plant and employees. A widened pleat and proprietary filter media help deliver top performance.