As part of our Time to Breathe campaign, launched in March 2019, the British Safety Council has been calling on the Government to improve air quality for thousands of outdoor workers. These include street cleaners, refuse workers, traffic police, cycle couriers, construction workers, maintenance workers, newspaper sellers, gardeners, teachers or security guards working on busy roads. As a group, they help us cross the road, guard our children, fill potholes, deliver our food and ensure we have clean water, electricity, WiFi or cycle lanes.
The Government’s target will only be met if it is underpinned by tangible actions to deliver its ambition. Such actions include the Government adopting the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) air pollution targets, allowing electric only cars in cities from 2030 and improving air quality measurement across the UK.
These measures should be part of the Government’s efforts to address climate change, to improve public health and reduce the 40,000 lives lost due to air pollution each year across the country. It will also save on the £20 billion cost to the economy annually in healthcare and impact on businesses.
Mike Robinson, the British Safety Council’s Chief Executive, commented,
“We applaud the Government’s ambition to reduce emissions further, but this must be backed up by concrete policies and actions to achieve this ambition. The UK is currently slipping behind its existing targets and is now planning greater cuts in emissions.
There is an early opportunity for the Government to put its words into action by adopting the WHO air pollution targets as part of the Environment Bill currently progressing through Parliament. Taking the bull by the horns now will mean cleaner air in our cities and a healthier outdoor workforce. These are outcomes we all want to see.