6th March 2017

Diesel fumes at work ‘kill 650 people a year’

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About 100 professionals attended the Ministry of Defence’s Armed Forces Environmental Health Conference in Gosport.

Tim Briggs, chairman of IOSH’s Professional Standards Committee, gave a talk on its No Time to Lose campaign and highlighted research showing that exposure to diesel fumes at work claimed the lives of 650 people in Britain each year.

“Cancer caused by exposure to diesel fumes is preventable,” he said. “Businesses can put in place steps to minimise exposure by assessing the risks, putting in controls, monitoring levels of diesel exhaust fumes, implementing health surveillance, and training employees. By raising awareness now we can protect the health of current and future workers.”

He also provided delegates with practical information on how to control exposure such as switching to other forms of fuel where possible, for example or gas or electricity; replacing old engines with newer versions that have lower emissions; making sure that engines are maintained properly – especially fuel delivery systems; making sure diesel engine exhausts have filters; using ‘local exhaust ventilation’ in fixed or enclosed workplaces; and rotating jobs between different employees to minimise exposure.

Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Moore, head of the Army Environmental Health Team at the MoD, said: “The MoD Environmental Health Cadres which includes the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force, and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, fully support IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign and its efforts to drive down occupational cancer, in particular cancer caused by diesel fumes.

“The majority of our military vehicles have diesel engines, therefore we need to ensure we keep exposure levels as low as practicable. At the MoD we have both environmental health and health and safety professionals who routinely assess levels of diesel fumes and ensure they are controlled.

“The free practical resources from the No Time to Lose campaign are excellent to help educate and inform the workforce to help prevent occupational cancer caused by diesel fumes.”

For more information on IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign and to download the free diesel fumes pack, visit www.notimetolose.org.uk