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Toxic Air In The Workplace ‘A Growing Concern’

It's thought it could be as big a problem as when asbestos dangers were first discovered.

Protecting your members of staff from the risks they may face, whilst undertaking their daily routines is a pre-requisite for running a business and this includes the risks posed by toxic air in the workplace.

Speaking to the Guardian, health and safety director of the GMB Union Dan Shears explained that this is now a big problem, likening it to the days when the dangers of asbestos were finally realised.

Some well-known employers, are now facing further action over apparent failures to protect people from the harmful effects of diesel pollution from cars and other vehicles. And lawyers have now said that legal claims related to this exposure are now on the rise.

Mr Shears was quoted by the news source as saying: “There are potentially lots of people who have unnecessarily suffered premature death who may have been affected by industrial exposure. We are now with diesel in the same place we were with asbestos in the 1930s.”

A leading brand operating in the delivery sector, is currently facing potential legal action for negligence and allegedly breaching health and safety regulations, which require employers to prevent exposure to substances that can result in health problems.

One of the employees working at one of their sites said he was exposed to diesel exhaust for eight hours each shift – on a daily basis. This exposure resulted in him developing asthma, which he can support with medical evidence.

Similarly, a Borough Council is also being sued, for allegedly failing to protect a driver from diesel fumes said to be leaking into his tractor cab for over two years. A service on the vehicle left holes in the floor panels, which may have meant more toxic fumes entering the cab.

New research from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) published recently revealed that around 425,000 premature deaths each year are linked to current air pollution levels in EU28, Norway and Switzerland. And over 90 per cent of these are caused by cardiovascular and respiratory diseases related to exposure to fine particulate matter.

It was estimated that approximately 10,000 premature deaths each year can be attributed to nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel vehicles. The countries with the highest number of premature deaths were revealed as Italy, Germany and France, while the countries with the lowest risk per capita were found to be Norway, Finland and Cyprus.

Transportation expert at the IIASA Jens Borken-Kleefeld commented: “If diesel car emissions were as low as petrol car emissions, three-quarters or about 7,500 premature deaths could have been avoided.”

There are over 100 million diesel cars currently being used in Europe, twice as many as the rest of the world put together. NOx emissions are between four and seven times higher on the road than seen in official tests – perhaps because engine controls are optimised for lab testing, but in the real world they underperform.

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