Woodwork/metalwork teacher

Risk level

Handy training

As a woodwork/metalwork teacher you will be teaching woodwork and metalwork to school pupils. You are an expert at teaching others how to use their hands creatively and how to use the saw, lathe and plane. It's a job that generates plenty of butter knives and birdboxes! The workshop is home not only to rewarding pupils, but also sawdust, dangerous machines and solvents, which could trigger both asthma and eczema if you're unlucky.

What are the risks?

The air in the workshop often contains wood dust and fumes from solvents, which can trigger or exacerbate asthma if you're sensitive. Some types of wood cause allergies and can result in both contact eczema and asthma. The skin becomes dry, red and flaky with cracks and blisters that itch, and it can become difficult to breathe. The skin on your hands can become rough from the tools and materials used.

Prevention and avoidance

The working environment is very important when it comes to the risk of developing asthma or eczema as a woodwork/metalwork teacher, and there are both good and bad workshops in this respect. A good workshop is very clean, well planned and has an extractor over the work benches to ensure that dust and fumes don't spread.

Protect your skin by using an unperfumed hand cream at the beginning and end of the working day. Also wear protective gloves where possible.

Woodwork/metalwork teachers who already have or had asthma or eczema when they were little (atopic eczema) are more likely than others to have problems with asthma or eczema at work.

Want to know more?

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