Objectives: This study assessed the effectiveness of an intervention to reduce wood dust, a carcinogen, by approximately 26% in small woodworking businesses.
Methods: We randomized 48 businesses to an intervention (written recommendations, technical assistance, and worker training) or comparison (written recommendations alone) condition. Changes from baseline in dust concentration, dust control methods, and worker behavior were compared between the groups 1 year later.
Results: At follow-up, workers in intervention relative to comparison businesses reported greater awareness, increases in stage of readiness, and behavioral changes consistent with dust control. The median dust concentration change in the intervention group from baseline to follow-up was 10.4% (95% confidence interval = -28.8%, 12.7%) lower than the change in comparison businesses.
Conclusions: We attribute the smaller-than-expected reduction in wood dust to the challenge of conducting rigorous intervention effectiveness research in occupational settings.