Those in haulage work are facing a number of issues at the moment. Whether it’s driver shortages, increasing fuel prices or the pressure to ‘go green’, the transport industry is certainly under stress. Currently, one of the main (and most important) problems for drivers is their exposure to air pollution.
Though pollution is being tackled in a number of ways (such as with the introduction of eco-friendly, electric vehicles and various charging stations all around the country), the health risks for those in haulage work are still being overlooked by the government. So, what is being done to change how this occupational health hazard is being perceived?
After a number of different experiments were performed by environmental charities and experts from London universities, it was discovered that HGV drivers had the highest exposure to pollutants in comparison to office workers and construction workers.
One such experiment was completed with the help of a mobile air quality monitoring vehicle (or, the smogmobile). Thanks to the smogmoblie’s technical capabilities, nitrogen dioxide (an invisible toxic gas) could easily be detected while on the move, both inside and outside the vehicle. It has been said that this kind of pollution leads to thousands of health problems each year in the UK, so it’s clear that we need to change how we’re using fuels – and fast.
There are several air quality monitoring stations around the UK used to show trends in pollution over time, but their lack of mobility does not paint a very accurate picture. With the smogmobile, it is much easier to estimate how much exposure lorry drivers have to pollutants.
Campaigning for Action
With the risks high and pollutant exposure only increasing for those in haulage work, the British Safety Council are starting to act alongside the #AirWeShare campaign in a bid to put pressure on the government to recognise the dangers of this occupational health hazard. The council are hoping that the government will take action and help companies find ways to reduce their staff’s exposure to pollutants.
The head of campaigns at the British Safety Council, Matthew Holder, stated that quick action is vital to reduce these risks for workers across the country. He said that ‘if you work outdoors, drive or commute in a polluted area, your health is at risk… [Employers are] waiting to see if the government and the regulators are going to act’.
There is hope for the future, but it’s no secret that something needs to be done soon if health hazards are going to be reduced. People in haulage work have huge exposure to bad quality air, and they aren’t the only ones suffering the consequences. As soon as the government recognises this, the better.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage work with available drivers, and is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.
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