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European Wood Dust Conference: working together to prevent exposure

On 16 May some 100 experts, stakeholders and social partners took part in the European Wood Dust Conference in Brussels. Topics included implementing new occupational limit values for wood dust exposure, the state of play in relation to new legislation, and a session on best practice.


Organised jointly by the European Commission, social partners from the Social Dialogue Wood and the Social Dialogue Furniture organisations (including official campaign partner European Federation of Building and Woodworkers), the conference began with an update from the European Commission's Stefan Olsson. He provided information on new legislation relating to occupational limit values for wood dust.

Experts from different companies across Europe then outlined the challenges: different measurement systems in different EU countries; wood dust measurements in practice; and real-life experiences from the hardwood sawmill and furniture industries. Participants also discussed possible solutions.

The conference then looked at technological innovations in preventing wood dust exposure. This included the use of stationary machinery, re-designing work processes and a discussion on a state-of-the-art extraction system used in the sawmill industry. This was followed by best practice examples seeking to improve prevention, reduce exposure peaks and a look at the wood dust exposure prevention project ‘Interreg Danube’.

Following some lively discussion, participants agreed on future joint action together with social partners and other stakeholders on:
• a European project on the compatibility of the various methods used for measuring wood dust
• further cooperation with machinery producers on improving technical systems
• European social partner action on improving prevention