Smoking Policy for Wood Shops

Shop owners discuss smoking and no-smoking rules. July 30, 2009

Have any of you banned smoking on the premises? Not just in the office or shop, but on the grounds as well?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor S:
Yes. You need three things to start a fire.

1. A combustible material (in this case wood)
2. Oxygen
3. An ignition source (smoking)

In order to prevent a fire you must remove one of the three. The easiest one to remove in our case is the ignition source. Trying to remove either of the other two is not only detrimental to your business, it can kill you.

From contributor F:
Most fires are caused by faulty electrical because business owners were more concerned with things like banning smoking than updating their buildings conditions and capacity.

From contributor S:
Smoking will kill you. As someone who has diminished lung capacity due to a lifetime of exposure to wood dust, I can't believe that anyone, now, would advocate smoking. Death gets here quickly enough without hurrying it up.

From contributor D:
What’s wrong with smoking outside the building? I find it funny when many business owners say it's not good for you. How about the dust you force your employees to breathe on a daily basis? Are you willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to install top of the line dust collectors, air filtration systems and purifiers just because it's better for your employees’ health? I didn't think so.

From contributor R:
I have in fact spent thousands of dollars on effective dust collection and air filtration to provide a healthy workplace. I get sick of cleaning up filter butts everywhere. It's bad enough in the parking lot, but then they blow in when the overhead door is open it makes a great impression. Since I am the boss, I get to say no smoking on site.

From contributor Q:
I wear a respirator at all times when in the shop or field with MDF around. You get used to it and it makes a huge difference.

From contributor B:
As someone who has watched a friend's woodworking business burn to the ground from a discarded butt, and found a discarded butt in one of my own fiberboard wood waste barrels, I can tell you there is no place what so ever for smoking in a woodworking facility. Some smokers can make all the excuses they want, but common sense alone tells you that smoking around combustibles is irresponsible behavior.

From contributor R:
We are in the process of updating dust collection, have a downdraft table in the shop, and our random orbit sanders are the vacuum type, which do a pretty good job of taking care of dust if maintenanced properly (new bags, clear hose, etc.). I am also considering an air purifier, and we are planning a switch to water-based finishes. After shop tours that have been sponsored by the CMA and seeing other shops that have very successfully created a clean work environment, I am very inspired to do the same. It isn't happening overnight, but it is happening. All of our wiring is professionally installed in conduit, but even with that I'm sure the risk isn't 100% eliminated. It is something I pay close attention to. All that said, banning smoking on the premises is set in stone. If that policy doesn't fit an employee well, then they (and I) would probably be happier if they were working somewhere else anyway, so why stay with me?

From contributor S:
Being in California I probably have an easier time banning smoking than many from other states. There are so many places here one cannot smoke it's more generally accepted. There are always the cheaters, or those who think they are too valuable to the company that they can get away with it. I do my best to not hire smokers as it avoids a lot of hassle in educating them to my policy.

From contributor W:
It’s almost the first question I ask a future employee - do you smoke? That determines how long the interview will last.

From the original questioner:
We have recently banned smoking on the premises and that is why I posted this thread originally. Feedback from the employees was nonexistent. Now they just walk across the street and smoke. What happened was the cigarette butts were blowing all over, even though we provided outdoor ashtrays filled with sand in a designated smoking area, etc., it just got to be too much. They were even blowing in the finish room door. That was the last straw. I had warned them for months that it might happen if they didn't keep it policed up. No issues so far. Thanks everyone for the feedback.