The factory employs 75 process workers in an open plan environment. The production area uses mainly computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines that perform a variety of cutting and machining tasks on medium density fibre board (MDF) panels of varying thicknesses. These have edging glued on and manually assembled onto metal frames to produce a range of office furniture. The cutting, drilling and routering processes of the MDF create hazardous dust. Machine operatives work close to the source of dust for the duration of their 8-hour shift.
MDF is a type of man-made hardboard produced from wood fibres glued under heat and pressure. Urea Formaldehyde is commonly used as the gluing agent and presents health hazards in addition to normal wood dust. The elimination or control of risks from MDF dust is required by the Health and Safety at Work Act (HASWA)1, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)2 Regulations, the Management Regulations3, and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR)4 . References to source documents made throughout this paper use the Vancouver system and are listed in the bibliography .
To investigate the implications to employees’ health from the dust generated during the processing of MDF panels. What procedures should be followed to identify and assess the hazards in compliance with current legislation and guidelines and to establish if the risks of exposure can be eliminated or controlled to an acceptable level. To review the effectiveness of existing control measures and investigate the cost effectiveness of implementing additional ones.
• Detail the properties of MDF and identify the health hazards created by cutting, drilling and routering. Identify and explain possible routes of entry and their effects on target organs.
• Formulate a risk assessment that fully addresses all aspects of the MDF dust producing work activities...