On the average working day, carpenters and joiners will face potential hazards at work. Whether you work in a work shop or out on site there are different dangers and hazards to be wary of. To help raise awareness of some possible hazards we have prepared a brief guide to improve your personal safety in your workplace. For further information contact your union representative or contractor.
Poor ventilation can cause dust to build up in the air of your working environment which can lead to a number of problems. Approximately 2,000 people each year are diagnosed with work related asthma, the majority of which are involved in wood related trades.
Dust from soft and hardwoods can cause serious problems such as cancer of the nose. Tasks most commonly associated with high levels of dust given off include sanding, sawing, assembly and cleaning. To reduce possible damage to your health it is recommended to wear the correct respiratory equipment while working.
Cleaning up dust using airlines or dry sweeping will simply move the dust around, worsening the problem. Dust should be removed using a vacuum system equipped with HEPA filters. This can be either a stand alone cleaner or via an extraction pipe connected directly to your extraction system.
Systems such as LEV (Local exhaust ventilation) will remove harmful dust particles from the air before they can settle, removing the hazard. LEV systems require maintenance at least every 14 months from a technician.
The majority of injuries at work reported by carpenters and joiners involve machinery. Statistics for the financial year 2004 show that over a quarter of serious injuries were caused by machinery.
A significant factor appears to be lack of sufficient training. Employers on site are legally required to make sure that employees using equipment have received the necessary level of training. This includes training on how to operate the machinery and being aware of elements of risk assessment measures. Supervisory and management teams are also required to be trained to the equivalent level of employees using the equipment.
High risk machines in the workplace include saws such as circular saws and band saws, planing machines and any hand fed machinery. Employees under 18 can only work on high risk machinery during training if they are being supervised at all times.
Working around a variety of machinery and tools on site can create an incredibly noisy working environment. Employees who have permanent damage to their hearing may not even be fully aware of their condition which can pose a serious threat to workplace safety.
Short term exposure to excessive noise levels can cause temporary loss of hearing. Prolonged exposure can lead to irreversible damage that is often even harder for the sufferer to notice than employers. Conditions such as tinnitus can develop from exposure to excessive noise, leaving the sufferer with a permanent ringing noise.
New regulations for workplace noise levels have recently come into effect. The new regulations tighten previous thresholds in an attempt to make employers more proactive in their noise reduction measures.