Handling Treated Timber

Consumer Saftey information for preservative treated timber

Somerset Timbers Safety information for treated timber

Preservative treated timber contains a variety of chemicals, which are applied to the timber so as to ensure durability and reliability in service. The preservatives used have fungicidal and pesticidal properties in order to protect the timber from attack by insects and decay. All timber treated with such products require certain necessary precautions in terms of safe handling, use and disposal.

Timber which has been preservative treated in South Africa requires to be treated with a preservative that:

  • has been registered by the National Department of Agriculture after reference to the National Department of Health
  • shall conform to the appropriate National Standard
  • has been applied to the timber in terms of the appropriate National Standard

It is compulsory to treat certain species of structural timber in various areas of the country. In order to control the amount of preservative used, timber shall be treated according to a Hazard Classification which relates the retention and penetration of the preservative to the proposed service application of the timber.

Treated timber waste is not defined as a hazardous waste material.


  • Dispose of treated sawdust and treated timber waste to a normal waste disposal site.
  • Treated timber off cuts or sawdust should never be burned because toxic fumes may be liberated as part of the smoke and the ash may
  • Avoid frequent or prolonged inhalation of sawdust from treated timber.
  • When sawing, sanding and machining the treated timber, wear overalls, gloves, a dust mask and safety goggles.
  • Wash hands, face and any other exposed areas thoroughly, after working with treated timber and before eating, drinking or smoking.
  • Remove accumulation of sawdust on clothing prior to leaving work area.
  • Do not wash sawdust contaminated clothing with other household laundry.
  • Do not use treated timber under circumstances where the treated timber may become a component of food or animal feed.
  • Treated timber should not be used for the long term storage of drinking water.


  • Observe handling precautions above.
  • All sawdust and waste treated timber should not be allowed to accumulate and should be disposed of on a regular basis. Construction sites should be cleared of sawdust or waste treated timber once the structure has been completed.
  • Do not allow the burning of treated timber waste or sawdust