Government 'ignoring pollution hazard to outdoor workers'


The British Safety Council has called for air pollution to be recognised as an occupational health hazard.

Its report Impact of air pollution on the health of outdoor workers presents its campaign to limit the dangers of air pollution to the health of outdoor workers, complete with 'compelling' evidence to recognize ambient air pollution as an occupational health hazard in Britain


The charity said that while the harmful effects of outdoor air pollution are well documented, the Government and regulatory bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), ‘continue to demonstrate a lack of interest in relation to regulation and guidance on air pollution’.

Chairman Lawrence Waterman said: ‘The impact of air pollution on people working in large cities is starting to be recognised as a major public health risk. However, we are yet to see any true commitment to addressing this issue by the Government and the regulators. 

‘The social and economic implications of ambient air pollution are clear. It must be recognised as an occupational health hazard, much like some toxic substances such as asbestos. Breathing clean air is not a privilege but a basic human right for the thousands of people who are undertaking vital work outdoors.'

The council said it is urging everyone to write to their MPs to request that the Department for Work and Pensions and environment department Defra do more to protect workers from air pollution.

In March 2019, the council launched its Time to Breathe campaign, the cornerstone of which campaign is Canairy - a mobile app that gives outdoor workers and their employers insights into pollution and how to reduce staff exposure to it.

In the new report the British Safety Council is calling for:

  • The UK to adopt the World Health Organisation’s exposure limits for the main pollutants;
  • Government action to ensure ambient air pollution is treated as an occupational health issue and adopt a Workplace Exposure Limit for Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions (DEEE);
  • Improvements to pollution monitoring across the UK, so that all regions can have the same accuracy in emissions data as London;
  • Recognition that protection from the dangers of air pollution should be enshrined in law as a human right.

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