Creating great relationships

When Fercell Engineering approached London Reclaimed, a London-based furniture charity, offering to supply and fit a dust extract system they knew a great partnership would ensue.

It was in 2016 when Mark Fletcher, managing director of Fercell Engineering, came across London Reclaimed after reading about them in a local magazine. Inspired by the work they were doing and the charity’s ethos, Mark wanted to help them take their company even further on their journey and install a bespoke dust extraction system.

The London Reclaimed Story

London Reclaimed started as an employment charity for 16 – 25 year olds in South East London. It now operates two businesses under their umbrella: Goldfinch Furniture and Lumberjack Café.

Goldfinch Furniture provides a paid trainee programme where young people can work and earn for a year, producing unique, custom made furniture from locally sourced timber. After a year they are given support to find their next job using these new skills or a college course to further their education.

Goldfinch’s success in contributing to a sustainable future for the planet is local and very unique.  When a tree falls down in London Goldfinch lumber it where it lays before the timber is naturally milled and kiln dried on site. They ensure that the cycle is complete by planting a new tree somewhere in London, where needed.

A centralised duct system

To help improve Goldfinch’s efficiency as a business and provide a comfortable working environment for their young, dedicated employees, Fercell suggested a solution to exactly fit the needs of Goldfinch, its operation and their employees.  That solution consisted of a centralised duct system with a multi breather dust collector, all of which was installed and commissioned by Fercell engineers.

Goldfinch’s original local exhaust ventilation arrangements were a series of small mobile filter units, which took up valuable floor space and were noisy, when all in operation.  By installing a correctly sized and balanced centralised galvanised steel ducting system and a single dust collector Goldfinch have increased their usable floor space and improved the working environmental with improved dust control and noise reduction.

Controlling the risks of wood dust

In addition to the tiny particles of wood produced during processing, wood dust can also contain bacteria and fungal and moss spores. The quantity and type of wood dust will depend on the wood being cut and the machine being used, for example: whether the timber is green or seasoned; whether it is a hardwood, softwood or composite board; how aggressive the machine cutter or blade profile is.

The biggest risk is from fine dust, as you can breathe this deep into your lungs where it will do the most damage. Fine dust will also spread further from the cutting process so it is important to clean ledges and other workroom surfaces regularly to prevent dust accumulating

Why is it necessary to control wood dust?

Wood dust is a substance hazardous to health because it can cause serious non-reversible health problems, including: skin disorders; obstruction in the nose, and rhinitis; asthma; a rare type of nasal cancer.

Because of the potential health problems, wood dust is covered by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). These set out the legal requirements to protect workers from health risks arising from hazardous substances at work.

Under COSHH, employers, including contractors, have a duty to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and take steps to ensure they prevent or adequately control exposure. This includes organising an LEV (Local Exhaust Ventilation) test by a competent person every 14 months on a dust or fume extraction system to ensure it is operating efficiently and isn’t emitting any dusts by accident.

Here’s to the future

“To be able to help a business like London Reclaimed, who are helping young people get onto the business ladder and setting them up for the future is a real honour” says Fercell’s Mark Fletcher.  He continues,“They are investing in the workforce of tomorrow and in the environment, which for us to be a part of and able to support is extremely rewarding.”

For Goldfinch whose overall vision and ethos is centred on investing in their staff’s health and their future, the ventilation system was a no-brainer.

“Working alongside Fercell has been an absolute pleasure.” says Mike Biddulph at Goldfinch. “We have some exciting plans for the future – including expanding the milling side of the business and investing further in the Grade A hard wood that’s left to rot in London. Fercell are absolutely 100% in our future plans to grow our business.”

Fercell and London Reclaimed fact file
  • Fercell was established over 40 years ago in 1977, based in Aylesford, Kent. Originally a specialist installer of industrial ventilation plants for furniture industry. Client base includes: Unilever, Kier, Natural History Museum, Biffa, Sharp, JCB.
  • London Reclaimed was established in 2011. They provide job-specific training, employability skills, tailored mentoring and paid work to 16-25 year olds. They’ve provided year-long intensive joinery training and mentoring in their workshop located in Bermondsey. The experience young people gain is invaluable, enabling them to move on to further employment or training. Their beautiful handmade furniture is now in hundreds of happy homes and a number of top London restaurants and cafes. The furniture also features in their café they’ve opened in Camberwell, offering further opportunities to young people in South East London.