Wood dust becomes a potential health problem when wood particles from processes such as sanding and cutting become airborne. Breathing these particles may cause allergic respiratory symptoms, mucosal and non-allergic respiratory symptoms, and cancer. The extent of these hazards and the associated wood types have not been clearly established.
How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers' rights?
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers' rights under the OSH Act.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential On-site Consultation program to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. Consultants in this program from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by a worker are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
- Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (Reissued). OSHA Directive CPL 03-00-008, (2008, March 11). Contains policies and procedures for inspecting workplaces that create or handle combustible dusts.
- Wood Products: Sawmills. OSHA eTool. Provides an interactive web-based training tool on the hazards associated with working in sawmills. Includes a section on wood dust and provides information on topics such as lumber storage, log handling, and plant-wide hazards.
- Wood Products: Woodworking. OSHA eTool. Provides an interactive web-based training tool on the hazards associated with woodworking. Proposes measures to prevent those hazards, and contains modules specific to wood dust as a health hazard plantwide as well as when it is associated with rough mill and production work.