Outdoor workers have a right to clean air: British Safety Council calls on parliamentarians to support their new air pollution campaign

Posted On: 
21st February 2019

The British Safety Council calls on parliamentarians to join their new campaign to protect outdoor workers from ambient air pollution.

Credit: 
PA Images

The World Health Organisation and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) tell us that air pollution is carcinogenic, yet our laws are leaving outdoor workers perilously exposed. Their health, the IARC tell us, is more at risk simply because they work in the ambient environment and are therefore exposed to higher levels of pollutants over the long-term.

A Royal College of Physicians report says that each year in the UK, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution. It also says that “it’s clear that outdoor air quality issues still apply to many workers, particularly those who work near sources of outdoor air pollution including, for example, urban-based traffic police and street cleaners.”

And though these workers in their thousands help us cross the road, fill potholes, guard our children, deliver our food or maintain the infrastructure of our cities and towns so that we can have clean water, electricity, wifi or cycle lanes, very little has been done to help protect them. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that it does not regulate general air-pollution and is not planning to examine the links between outdoor work, ill-health and air pollution. The recent Clean Air Strategy also does not address the occupational dimension of air pollution.

In response, the British Safety Council is launching Time to Breathe, a UK-wide campaign on 12th March to provide free resources and advocates that employers, policy-makers and regulators start taking seriously the risk of air pollution to the health of outdoor workers. As part of the campaign, British Safety Council is– with King’s College, London – offering Canairy, the world’s first mobile app designed for outdoor workers. And it’s free.

We are looking for volunteers to help us launch the campaign to the public in Oxford Circus on 12th March and we would like MPs and Peers to help spread the word with their constituents by sharing this link to register or emailing timetobreathe@britsafe.org

Volunteers will be asked to hand out information, posters and, if they like, tell the public about the campaign. Outdoor workers have a right to clean air. It’s Time to Breathe.