UNISON raises issue of outside work and pollution

As warnings on high levels of air pollution are headline news, UNISON head of health and safety Tracey Harding is urging employers not to forget about those people who work outside. 

According to experts, local air pollution and dust carried on the wind from the Sahara have combined to damage air quality across increasing areas of the UK and likely to be experienced for the rest of the week.

This pollution poses health risks, especially for the elderly or those with pre-existing respiratory illnesses, who have been advised to avoid strenuous exercise outside.

UNISON believes that this advice applies equally to workers who are older or those who have respiratory illnesses, and is asking employers to take a sensible approach toward any staff who may be asked to undertake strenuous work outside.

This may include finding alternative work indoors or working at a slower pace – a risk assessment should identify appropriate measures. 

And as the weather improves, employers should also begin considering their outdoor workers as it gets hotter and the sun stronger, to avoid the risks of heat stroke, sun burn and more serious long-term ill-health problems such as skin cancer.

UNISON guidance on temperature at work