Risk level

Wood dust sticks in the throat

Good carpenters seldom hammer their fingers, but no matter how skilled you are it's hard to avoid breathing in the wood dust often found in the workplace, and this can trigger both asthma and eczema.

What are the risks?

Carpenters are often found in environments where the air contains wood dust and fumes from solvents, which can cause or aggravate asthma. Some types of wood cause allergies and can result in both contact eczema and asthma, where the skin becomes dry, red and flaky with cracks and blisters that itch, and it is difficult to breathe. It gets even harder when tools and materials damage the skin on the hands.

Prevention and avoidance

As a carpenter, you run the risk of developing both asthma from the dust in the air and eczema from allergenic types of wood. Protect yourself by using protective gloves when working and, if possible, avoiding some tropical woods that are known to be irritant and cause allergies.

There are different types of work open to carpenters, some more hazardous than others: workshop work, construction work, cabinetmaking, and pattern making, to name but a few. Larger workshops can be home to much more dust than outdoor building sites.

If you suffer from eczema or did so when you were little (atopic eczema), you should think carefully before deciding to become a carpenter.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions or want to know more about allergy and eczema when working as a carpenter, get in touch with your school nurse or careers adviser.