California OSHA moves step closer to regulating wood dust exposure of workers

Photo By Wikimedia Holzmehl

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Regulation of worker exposure to wood dust moves another step closer in California, where the state Occupational Health & Safety Administration closed a comments period on May 19.
The state's effort to regulate exposure to wood dust began in 2010. The working rule would limit exposure to all hardwood and softwood dust in primary and secondary manufacturing, and would set permissible redwood exposure at half the levels of all other woods.
Columbia Forest Products notes in its blog report that the proposed rule would tighten the limits for wood dust exposure to 1 milligram per cubic meter and lower western red cedar dust limits to 0.5 milligrams per cubic meter.
California's OSHA has identified wood dust as a skin irritant and harmful if inhaled. 
To get wood dust down to the proposed level could include enclosed work stations with controlled environments and workers outside those places wearing personal protective equipment all the time. 
Current regulations in California for limiting exposure to wood dust (all soft and hard woods, except Western Red Cedar) the existing time weight average is 5 mg/per cubic meter. The existing 15-minute short term exposure limit is 10 mg per cubic meter.
For Western Red Cedar the existing permissible exposure limit is is 2.5 mg per cubic meter. The limits for wood dust and for Western Red Cedar were revised in 2005. 
While there is no Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation that specifically applies to wood dust, OSHA does have a permissible exposure limit for "dust not otherwise classified" that would cover wood dust: 15 mg per cubic meter.



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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.