British Safety Council Calls for UK to Recognize Air Pollution as Occupational Health Hazard

The British Safety Council’s recently released report, Impact of air pollution on the health of outdoor workers, makes an argument for recognizing air pollution as an occupational health hazard in Britain.

The British Safety Council has recently released the report Impact of air pollution on the health of outdoor workers, which argues that ambient air pollution should be recognized as an occupational health hazard in Britain. The report is part of the charity’s campaign to limit the hazards that air pollution poses to the health of outdoor workers.

According to the BSC, air pollution is considered the largest environmental risk to public health, connected with as many as 36,000 early deaths annually in the United Kingdom. Ambient air pollution can be linked to cancer, lung and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, infertility, and early dementia, the organization said.

BSC launched its Time to Breathe campaign, focused on the protection of outdoor workers from air pollution, in March 2019. This report is the next step in the campaign, gathering evidence about the causes and consequences of air pollution in Britain.

In the report, the British Safety Council calls for the following measures:

  • The UK to adopt the World Health Organization’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.

“The impact of air pollution on people working in large cities is starting to be recognized 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,” said Lawrence Waterman, Chairman of the British Safety Council. “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 recognized 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 report can be read here.

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