(Toolbox Talk) Dust and Fumes

Table of Contents
dust and fumes toolbox talk


The aim of this toolbox talk is to increase awareness on the hazards associated with dust and fumes.

The use of regular toolbox talks, if done effectively, will significantly improve the safety culture within your organisation. This will increase the safety awareness of the workers, and as a result reduce the likelihood of accidents and unsafe occurrences.

Legislation references

  • Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • COSHH (The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2004)

Dust and fumes

Exposure to dust and fumes should be prevented where practicable, and must at least be controlled. Inhaling dust and fumes can have both acute and chronic effects, and can cause long term health problems.

Dust and fumes

Dusts are generated from cutting, sanding and grinding operations, and can also be found when working with old lead pipes or stripping out fibrous insulation – a prime and very dangerous example being asbestos.

Fumes arise from a wide source of origins including welding operations, use of hazardous substances, heating metals such as lead and burning off old paint etc.

The effects vary greatly, but examples of potential hazards include lung disease from silica dust as a result of cutting concrete, nasal cancer from cutting or sanding hardwood, dust/metal fume fever from welding fumes and lung cancer or asbestosis from exposure to asbestos.


  • Where practicable, plan operations/tasks to eliminate exposure to dust and fumes.
  • Where elimination is not practicable, then exposure to dusts and fumes must be controlled.
  • Use tools with dust extraction systems if possible.
  • Consider the use of portable extraction equipment.
  • Consider use of Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) where practicable.
  • Always remember other workers in the area – they may also require protection.

PPE - the last resort

As a last resort use personal protective equipment/respiratory protective equipment. Ensure it is suitable and that you know how to use it properly, and how to maintain it.