Personal Protective Equipment in the Wood Products Manufacturing Industry: Fact Sheet

This guidance note provides advice on the use of personal protective equipment in the wood products manufacturing industry.

This guidance note provides advice on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the wood products manufacturing industry.

When should PPE be used?

Protective clothing and equipment is a common risk control for workers exposed to chemicals, fumes, vapours or dusts.

PPE should only be used when other risk control measures (see figure 1) do not adequately control exposure or are  not practicable. PPE may also be used in addition to other control measures.

Consultation Eliminate
Remove the hazard
A combination of controls may be used
something less hazardous
For example, local exhaust ventilation (LEV)
Procedures, training or supervision
Personal Protective Equipment
For example, hearing protection, safety glasses, boots, respiratory protection

Business owner obligations

Business owners and those who direct work to be carried out have responsibilities in relation to PPE. This includes ensuring:

  • workers are consulted about the choice of PPE
  • each item of PPE is appropriate for each particular workplace hazard and meets relevant Australian Standards (liaise with suppliers/manufacturersto determine most appropriate type of PPE for each hazard)
  • each item of PPE is appropriate for each individual worker
  • workers are trained how to use PPE correctly and supervisors are provided with any necessary additional training to make sure they understand their role in enforcing the wearing of PPE
  • PPE is cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. See below for more information about safe practices for using PPE

Worker obligations

Workers must cooperate with the business owner in regards to the use of PPE. This includes:

  • using PPE as instructed
  • not misusing or damaging PPE
  • notifying any damage to, malfunction of, or need to clean or sterilise PPE, as soon as reasonably practicable

See figure 2 for a list of PPE commonly worn in the wood products industry.

Safe practices for using PPE

To ensure PPE is used safely in the workplace, it is recommended business owners:

  • refer to any safety data sheets (SDS) or other health and safety information provided by the manufacturer, supplier or importer of a product for guidance in the selection of PPE
  • for the use of respirators, ensure users are clean- shaven. If they have a beard or even just ‘a few days growth’, you will need to consider either a hood, helmet or visor-type respirator to get an effective seal against the contaminated air
  • ensure the person who uses the PPE is instructed in relation to the correct fitting, use, selection, testing, maintenance and storage of the clothing or equipment
  • ensure PPE is maintained in good working order – it may help to implement a system of maintenance
  • ensure PPE is replaced when it no longer provides the level of protection required to protect the wearer or user against the particular hazard
  • ensure PPE is replaced when the safe working life has expired. Safe working life is specified by the clothing or equipment manufacturer
  • consider multiple risks when selecting PPE. For example, using a chainsaw to cut wood presents risks to the eyes (flying chips, dust), lungs (dust), hands, body, legs, head (cuts) and ears (noise)
  • assess workers’ safety training periodically to ensure the work is being carried out in a safe manner and PPE is being properly used and is effective
  • ensure signs are posted in prominent locations at the workplace as a useful reminder of the kind of personal protective equipment that should be worn. Signs should comply with AS1319, Safety signs for the occupational environment
  • ensure PPE is stored in a clean and fully-operational condition. Storage arrangements should ensure the equipment is safe from interference and damage and that it is easily accessible when needed. PPE should also be checked regularly as specified by the manufacturer or supplier to determine it is in a serviceable condition, both during storage and in use
  • launder PPE (eg overalls and aprons) regularly
  • provide good washing facilities with hot and cold water, soap and towels and encourage a high standard of personal hygiene
  • provide vacuum cleaning equipment to remove dust from clothing where necessary. Do not use an air compressor to blow wood dust from skin as it can cause serious injury (eg air can be injected into the skin and cause fatal embolisms. Small wood particles or dust can also become embedded in the skin or eyes)
Figure 2 - Common PPE in the wood products sector

Protective eye/face wear

Protective eye/face wear - safety glasses or full face shield.

hearing protection - ear plugs or ear muffs

Hearing protection - ear plugs or ear muffs.

Dust protection

Some workers have an allergic reaction to wood dust.  These workers should wear close-fitting long sleeves to avoid dust coming into contact with the skin.  Make sure long sleeves are tight fitting so they don't create a hazard by becoming entangled in machinery.

Safety boots/shoes

Safety boots/shoes.

Respiratory protection

Respiratory protection

Note: Wood working machinery should have properly serviced and maintained dust extraction systems. Areas around the machinery and equipment should be kept clean and free of dust and trip hazards. Respiratory protection should however be available if required, and stored appropriately. Please see Clause 44, WHS Regulation, 4B.

Further information

SafeWork NSW, 92–100 Donnison Street, Gosford, NSW 2250

Locked Bag 2906, Lisarow, NSW 2252, Telephone 13 10 50


SW08376 0816

Back to top