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No time To Lose

This February, Aarsleff Ground Engineering & Centrum Pile are supporting IOSH’s No Time to Lose’ campaign, by raising awareness across the company.

The campaign is working to:

  1. Raise awareness of a significant health issue facing workers in the UK and internationally
  2. Suggest some solutions on a UK scale to tackle the problem – a national model that can be transposed internationally
  3. Offer free practical, original materials to businesses to help them deliver effective prevention programmes.

In our third and final week, we’re providing information on…

Diesel Exhaust Emissions

Diesel exhaust fumes were classified as “probable carcinogens” back in 1988, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, has recently upgraded them to a Group 1 carcinogen, so these emissions are now treated as a definite cause of cancer in humans. Diesel engine exhaust fumes are a mixture of gases, vapours, liquid aerosols and particles created by burning diesel fuels. Diesel fumes may contain over 10 times the amount of soot particles than in petrol exhaust fumes, and the mixture includes several carcinogenic substances, meaning they have the potential to cause cancer. Breathing in high quantities of diesel exhaust fumes can cause irritation in the respiratory tract within a few minutes of exposure, but prolonged exposure over many years may be more harmful. The health effects will depend on the type and quality of diesel fuel being used (for example, whether it’s low sulphur), the type and age of the engine, where and how it’s used and maintained, and whether a combination of different diesel-powered engines are contributing to overall exposure.

Who is affected?
  • Anyone working with or around diesel-powered equipment or vehicles can be affected.
  • Emissions from diesel vehicles like forklifts, lorries, buses, trains and tractors – particularly in enclosed spaces like garages or workshops – can cause a problem.
  • People working with fixed power sources like compressors, generators or power plants in sectors like tunnelling, mining or construction could also be at risk.

It’s estimated that in Britain, more than 650 people a year die of lung or bladder cancer as a result of being exposed to diesel exhaust fumes at work. Around 800 new cases of cancer linked to diesel exhaust fume exposure are registered each year. While people are more likely to be diagnosed with a cancer caused by long term exposure to diesel exhaust fumes in later life, many workers will suffer respiratory symptoms much younger – and they can seriously affect quality of life.

What you should do
  • Speak to our STEQ team if you want more information
  • Do what you’re asked to protect yourself and always do your job in the way you’ve been directed
  • If you’ve been asked to wear protective kit, make sure it fits properly, you know how to use it, and that you wear it every time you need to
  • Remember that this can help look after your health. Make sure your work-mates do the same. Remember they may be risking your health, not just their own
  • Report any problems to your employer – e.g. faulty or missing equipment
  • Watch out for signs that diesel fumes are causing a problem: walls or surfaces are covered in soot, there is a smoky-looking haze when diesel engines are used, there is blue or black smoke coming from diesel exhaust fumes

To find out more visit www.notimetolose.org.uk

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