Lumber Reuse

Lumber Reuse focuses on the removal of old wooden beams, columns, decking, studs, and ornamental woodworks for the reuse in new structures. It is becoming more common as virgin wood products are more expensive and the appearance can often be more attractive. The reuse of salvaged lumber products also reduces unnecessary material from being sent to the landfill.

Potential dangers to consider

  • Nails & metal object hazards: When re-sawing, cutting, or routering a used piece of lumber it is
  • important to use a metal detector to locate and remove any nails, staples, spikes, bolts, etc. that could end up being present in the lumber product causing potential kickbacks from saws or blade breakage in the case of a band saw.
  • Splinters: old lumber can be dry and have larger splinters and pieces that fly off easier than new dimensional lumber. Take precautions to inspect material before handling or sawing and always use gloves that have plenty of protection.
  • Respiratory: dirt, dust, mold, and mildew accumulated in old lumber can be an irritant to the lungs of construction workers if the wood is not pressure washed or cut using dust masks or respirators.Other potential hazards – Unless stringent testing has taken place, including a phase II environmental site assessment, lead-based paint and asbestos can periodically be found in reused lumber. Be sure the source of salvaged lumber is clean with supporting documentation of proper testing and inspections before accepting delivery to the jobsite.
  • Material Handling: The primary hazards of concern are the items remaining in the lumber from its prior use. Nails and sharp objects not removed could cut, or puncture construction workers if not safely removed and cleaned prior to handling.
  • Air Quality: In some cases, air quality monitoring during the salvage and lumber re-purposing process may be required to ensure protection of the construction workers and to provide documentation that proper safety protocol was implemented.

Reference: Respiratory Protection: WAC 296-842-16005 

Presenter tips:

  • Pre-read the Tool Box Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Tool Box Talk relevant to your jobsite.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.


Questions for Discussion:

  • Why is it important to worker safety?
  • Which trades need to participate?
  • Who is responsible for oversight?
  • What equipment and materials are involved?
  • How is it communicated and monitored?
  • How is it measured and reported?