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How to Handle Wood Dust Safely

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

If not handled safely and properly, the handling of wood dust can lead to disastrous and unintended consequences. Manufacturers have to be concerned about the associated health hazards for workers and the very real risk of combustible explosions.

Preventing these sorts of consequences from happening starts with how you handle the wood dust itself. Handling it in a safe and proper way can be thought of as a three-step process:

1. Capture It

The first step towards handling wood dust safely is to capture it at the source.

This is accomplished by the means of designing a good hood at each source of dust. Each machine has specific requirements in terms of the amount of suction, typically given as a combination of drop diameter and air velocity that must be maintained. Maintaining these air velocities while the machine is producing dust is absolutely critical.

Note that not all woodworking machine manufacturers thoroughly test their hood designs, and as a result, not all dust is collected even at the recommended air velocity in some machines. In these instances, it may be necessary to redesign and adjust the machine hoods.

How do you know if you should adjust your machine hood? If the machine manufacturer's specifications are being met at the hood and dust is still not captured reliably, changes are necessary.

2. Move It

Once the dust is captured at the source, it must be reliably transported to the dust collector. The air velocities required to reliably transport the contaminant vary depending on the contaminant type.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists provides recommended design velocities for different types of contaminants: