The tragic events in Bosley have put wood dust mills on high alert and, in any environment where potentially explosive particles are present in high quantities, it is wise to check hazardous area heaters as we move forward into the colder period of the year.

Of course it is important to regularly check all hazardous area equipment, but at a time when hazardous area heaters may not have been used for several months – and are likely to come into demand again as autumn sets in – it is a good opportunity to give them some special attention and replace any damaged devices.

In addition to the obvious safety concerns that arise following a major incident like Bosley, the Health & Safety Executive is also cracking down on wood dust as a general health risk – so if you work in an industry where exposure to atmospheric wood dust (or wood flour) is a possibility, make sure you have taken precautions.

A recent HSE prosecution saw one joinery firm fined a total of £15,000 with £2,240.50 costs for failing to adequately examine its ventilation systems for the extraction of wood dust, combined with a lack of safety checks on its lifting equipment.

HSE inspector Saffron Turnell said: “This year HSE is targeting the woodworking industry because of the significant health risks associated with wood dust exposure.

“I strongly urge such businesses … to ensure that control of exposure is managed and their statutory duties are complied with.”