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Outdoor workers should be given guidance on air pollution during heatwave, say experts

The British Safety Council has called on the government to issue guidance for outdoor workers who will be subjected to higher levels of air pollution during Britain’s heatwave.

The health and safety organisation issued the call after government agency the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published advice on how to avoid overheating in hot conditions.

While welcoming the HSE guidance, the BSE said that outdoor workers will be more likely to suffer from air pollution during the sunny spell than any other group of workers.

The UK reported its hottest July day on record today (July 25) with temperatures in some areas of the country topping 35C.

Lawrence Waterman, chairman of the British Safety Council, said: ‘The British Safety Council welcomes the HSE guidance on working in hot weather.

‘However, similar guidance is needed in relation to outdoor workers who, as well as by heat, are affected by air pollution, particularly in Britain’s largest cities. They spend their working lives close to city traffic and pollution-emitting machinery.

‘This issue is relevant not only today but for many years to come as weather in Britain appears to be permanently affected by climate change.

‘Outdoor workers need to be protected from air pollution in hot weather more than any other group of workers. That’s why we need this advice now. We cannot fail them as we have done in relation to asbestos, which continues to cause harm and mount up the health bill.’

Recent studies have shown that outdoor workers, like construction workers, are one of the most vulnerable professional groups in relation to air pollution.

Recent studies have shown that outdoor workers are one of the most vulnerable professional groups in relation to air pollution.

Air quality monitoring carried out by the environmental charity Hubbub in conjunction with King’s College London found that a site engineer at a construction site had air pollution exposure levels six times higher than those of an office worker.

King’s College London also recently reported that due to hot weather, London’s ozone levels are rising rapidly, bringing it with it potential health implications such as heart disease.

As of 2pm today, Defra had issued air pollution alerts in some areas of the East Midlands and East of England due to ozone levels exceeding EU limits of 180 µg/m3 over a maximum eight hour mean period.

Scientists have warned that days of high ozone levels are likely to become more frequent over the coming years due to the effects of climate change.

Earlier this year, the BSC called for air pollution to be officially recognised as an occupational health hazard.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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