outdoor workers, White paper, British Safety Council
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A recent White Paper published by the British Safety Council looks at the impact of air pollution on the health of outdoor workers

British Safety Council stated: “36,000 deaths a year are caused by air pollution, according to a government report. Outdoor workers have been ignored for too long as our pollution crisis deepens.”

The campaign ‘Time to Breathe’ is providing encouraging visuals for employers and outdoor workers to take action on reducing air pollution. The visuals can be found here.

The White Paper states: “Ambient air pollution, defined as ‘potentially harmful pollutants emitted by industries, households, cars and trucks’ is rapidly becoming recognised as a global public health issue. The World Health Organisation estimates that 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide can be attributed to ambient air pollution.”

Global ambient air pollution accounts for:

  • 29% of all deaths and disease from lung cancer.
  • 17% of all deaths and disease from acute lower respiratory infection.
  • 24% of all deaths from stroke.
  • 25% of all deaths and disease from ischaemic heart disease.
  • 43% of all deaths and disease from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In the 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.

British Safety Council have launched Canairy – an app that helps employers and outdoor workers minimise the risks of polluted air. The app can be found here.

Lawrence Waterman, chairman of the British Safety Council, 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 Time to Breathe campaign, together with our recent report, is a call to action for policymakers, regulators and industry leaders. 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 full White Paper can be read here.

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