Global Action Plan and Zehnder Clean Air Solutions have released a whitepaper that concludes that the quality of the air in manufacturing industries has become an afterthought, with many workers being exposed to higher than normal levels of pollution and airborne hazards. The paper makes a case for air pollution to start being tackled in the manufacturing and other industries, with regulators, policymakers, and manufacturers asked to step up and take urgent action.
The whitepaper captures some key facts, observations, and points. One of them is that over 440,000 people working in the manufacturing industry who have health conditions that are made worse by pollution are still in workplaces where they are exposed to dangerous levels of pollution and airborne hazards.
The paper also notes that these airborne hazards can lead to production issues, which lead to lower product quality, which leads to lower profit margins. Finally, the paper notes that the current regulations allow companies to maintain levels of population and airborne hazards that are dangerous to workers’ health and that the enforcement of these regulations is not up to the standards required to protect employees.
Urgent Action is Required
To protect workers who cannot work remotely, the paper urges for action to be taken. There is adequate evidence that shows that poor air quality levels can make existing health conditions worse. This can make workers more susceptible to dangerous complications if they are infected with the coronavirus. Because workers in the manufacturing sector are at a higher risk of being exposed to pollution, toxic particles and dust, actions such as the use of industrial vacuum cleaners to reduce dust levels, proper equipment, and other measures are needed.
The Hazards Campaign and the Trade Unions Clean Air Network (TUCAN) all support the recommendation from the whitepaper that current regulations need to be updated to lower the levels of air pollutants that are acceptable in the manufacturing sector. This action is also supported by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), which say that the limits should be changed from 4mg/m3 of pollutants to 3mg/m3.
In addition to all the above, the whitepaper also calls for regulators to review the limits of exposure of air pollutants in this sector beyond what is currently mandated. This recommendation is supported by research that shows that exposure to air pollutants can lead to different health conditions including, but not limited to, heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, decreasing cognitive function and depression. When doing this, the paper calls for regulators to put measures in place to ensure air quality monitoring is done in tandem with the tracking of any health issues reported by workers.
Manufacturers have also been asked to review the actions they are taking regarding air pollution and work with authorities while adopting measures that help eliminate this problem.
Although workers in the manufacturing sector are exposed to a lot of hazardous materials, air pollutants are often overlooked. The whitepaper by Global Action Plan and Zehnder Clean Air Solutions puts forth great measures to protect workers from air pollutants and other airborne hazards.