Something In The Air

There’s a changing attitude toward pollution. How can you play your part?

In February 2016 the Royal College of Physicians released a report called Every Breath We Take: The Lifelong Impact of Air Pollution. The report’s findings indicate that in the UK air pollution is responsible for around 40,000 deaths each year. This is from a combination of pollutants found indoors and outdoors; some of the pollutants included were tobacco, wood burning stoves, cleaning products and vehicles emissions especially from diesel engines. The pollutants have been directly linked to health issues such as asthma, cancers, heart disease, strokes and obesity. Diesel emissions have generally been poorly controlled in recent years; this was evident with the Volkswagen scandal last year where software was used to cheat the air pollution tests with some of their diesel models.

Many organisations have responsibility for vehicles under their control and the pollution that they create from their emissions. Organisations can do their part to help reduce the volume of emissions they produce from their vehicles. New vehicles with cleaner technology diesel engines are a good way to reduce the emissions. However, the expense of a new vehicle or fleet of vehicles is not always practicable for smaller businesses. Smaller organisations can implement checks in addition to MOT tests and regular servicing on their vehicles to assist in reducing the emissions, for example:

  • checking the vehicle tyre pressure
  • engine oil level
  • coolant level
  • evidence of oil or fuel leaks
  • warning lights on the dash highlighting issues
  • mileage and fuel level recording to monitor usage levels

These simple checks can be included within a daily or weekly (usage dependant) driver checklist. The checklists will help identify any issues with the vehicles that require repair and ensure the vehicle is running as economically and environmentally friendly as possible.

The report also indicates tobacco smoke and second hand tobacco smoke as a contributory factor to poor air quality. Organisations must display no smoking signs in vehicles and ensure their staff do not smoke in shared vehicles. Smoking is not allowed in any work vehicle that more than one person uses, this can include:

  • taxis
  • buses
  • vans
  • goods vehicles used by more than one driver
  • company cars used by more than one employee

A worker can smoke in a company car that only they use if their employers smoking policy allows. E-cigarettes are not controlled in the same way, however employers can adopt and enforce the same rules as smoking in their vehicles or on their premises.

If you would like to speak to Ellis Whittam about how we can support you with any of the challenges highlighted here, please call 0845 226 8393.

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