British Safety Council Calls for Action against Air Pollution

A NEW report, ‘Impact of air pollution on the health of outdoor workers’, has been launched by the British Safety Council (BSC) to help limit the dangers of air pollution to the health of outdoor workers.

According to the BSC, air pollution is linked with up to 36,000 early deaths a year in the UK, is considered the biggest environmental risk to public health. Research from King’s College London suggests that more than 9,400 people die prematurely due to poor air quality in London alone.

Time to Breathe Campaign
In March 2019, the BSC launched its Time to Breathe campaign, which focused on the protection of outdoor workers from air pollution. The cornerstone of the campaign is Canairy, the first mobile app that gives outdoor workers and their employers insights into pollution and how to reduce staff exposure to it. Canairy draws on the London Air Quality Network (LAQN) pollution map at King College London and the worker’s GPS to calculate an individual’s exposure to pollution on an hourly basis.

The BSC’s new report is the next step in its Time to Breathe campaign. It gathers evidence about the causes and consequences of air pollution in Britain and reviews examples of initiatives set up to measure air pollution in different locations and their recommendations for risk reduction.

In the report the British Safety Council is calling for:

  1. The UK to adopt the World Health Organisation’s exposure limits for the main pollutants;
  2. 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);
  3. Improvements to pollution monitoring across the UK, so that all regions can have the same accuracy in emissions data as London;
  4. Recognition that protection from the dangers of air pollution should be enshrined in law as a human right.
Lawrence Waterman, Chairman of the British Safety Council

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 BSC is urging everyone to write to their MPs to request that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) do more to protect outdoor workers from the dangers of ambient air pollution. To download the template of the letter, click on this link.

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