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June 14, 2011

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HSE returns to nasal-cancer issue

The HSE is to begin work this month on new research that will explore the relationship between wood dust and nasal cancer.

The study, which will build on research carried out 11 years ago and published in ‘Occupational exposure to wood dust in the British woodworking industry in 1999/2000’, is expected to be complete by April next year.

An HSE spokesperson said: “The relationship between wood dust and nasal cancer is well-known and there are an estimated 50 cases per year. It is reportable to HSE under RIDDOR when it occurs in someone who has worked in a building where wooden furniture is manufactured, and is a prescribed disease, giving entitlement to compensation through the Industrial Injuries Disablement scheme in a number of woodworking occupations.

“Funding has been secured for HSE to commission a piece of research, alongside intelligence-gathering activities undertaken by HSE, to update our understanding of exposure risks in the woodworking industry. Such risks can lead to nasal cancer, or occupational asthma.”

The study will look at aspects such as:

  • checking known poor performers from the previous survey and identifying improvement measures, e.g. implementation of face-fit testing and provision of airflow indicators;
  • identifying new business areas that carry woodworking risks not covered in the previous study;
  • considering if there are any changes in the industries currently at risk; and
  • evaluating whether there are any trends in inquiries that the HSE has received about woodworking that might be relevant.  

The study will also carry out some pilot visits to businesses to see if further survey work might be useful at a later date, added the spokesperson.

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