Air pollution must be recognised as an occupational health hazard, according to a report from the British Safety Council.
The ‘Impact of air pollution on the health of outdoor workers’ report provides “compelling” evidence that recognises air pollution as an occupational health hazard in Britain.
According to official figures, approximately 36,000 early deaths a year are linked to air pollution – itself seen as the biggest environmental risk to public health.
The severity of ambient air pollution can be demonstrated by the fact it is linked to illnesses such as cancer, lung and heart disease, type-2 diabetes, early dementia and infertility.
In the report compiled by the British Safety Council, evidence is gathered about causes and consequences of Britain’s pollution problem, making recommendations for risk reductions in different areas.
The report has called for government action from the government to ensure pollution is treated as an occupational health issue, and adopt a Workplace Exposure Limit for Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions (DEEE).
The British Safety Council is also calling for improvements to pollution monitoring across the UK, so all regions have the same accuracy in emissions data as London; there needs to be a recognition that protection from the dangers of pollution should be enshrined in law as a human right.
And the UK should adopt the World Health Organisation’s exposure limits for the main pollutants.
It brings the various transport strategies across England into sharp focus; councils are trying to do their bit to decarbonise the industry, and the government’s Road to Zero Strategy seeks to make transport and its infrastructure greener.
However, it’s clear more needs to be done.
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.
“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.”