To assess wood dust exposures and determinants in joineries and furniture manufacturing and to evaluate the efficacy of specific interventions on dust emissions under laboratory conditions. Also, in a subsequent follow-up study in a small sample of joinery workshops, we aimed to develop, implement, and evaluate a cost-effective and practicable intervention to reduce dust ... [Show full abstract] exposures.
Personal inhalable dust (n = 201) was measured in 99 workers from 10 joineries and 3 furniture-making factories. To assess exposure determinants, full-shift video exposure monitoring (VEM) was conducted in 19 workers and task-based VEM in 32 workers (in 7 joineries and 3 furniture factories). We assessed the efficacy of vacuum extraction on hand tools and the use of vacuum cleaners instead of sweeping and dry wiping under laboratory conditions. These measures were subsequently implemented in three joinery workshops with 'high' (>4 mg m-3) and one with 'low' (<2 mg m-3) baseline exposures. We also included two control workshops (one 'low' and one 'high' exposure workshop) in which no interventions were implemented. Exposures were measured 4 months prior and 4 months following the intervention.
Average (geometric means) exposures in joinery and furniture making were 2.5 mg m-3 [geometric standard deviations (GSD) 2.5] and 0.6 mg m-3 (GSD 2.3), respectively. In joinery workers cleaning was associated with a 3.0-fold higher (P < 0.001) dust concentration compared to low exposure tasks (e.g. gluing), while the use of hand tools showed 3.0- to 11.0-fold higher (P < 0.001) exposures. In furniture makers, we found a 5.4-fold higher exposure (P < 0.001) with using a table/circular saw. Laboratory efficiency experiments showed a 10-fold decrease in exposure (P < 0.001) when using a vacuum cleaner. Vacuum extraction on hand tools combined with a downdraft table reduced exposures by 42.5% for routing (P < 0.1) and 85.5% for orbital sanding (P < 0.001). Following intervention measures in joineries, a borderline statistically significant (P < 0.10) reduction in exposure of 30% was found in workshops with 'high' baseline exposures, but no reduction was shown in the workshop with 'low' baseline exposures.
Wood dust exposure is high in joinery workers and (to a lesser extent) furniture makers with frequent use of hand tools and cleaning being key drivers of exposure. Vacuum extraction on hand tools and alternative cleaning methods reduced workplace exposures substantially, but may be insufficient to achieve compliance with current occupational exposure limits.