Below we have provided a brief guide to UK regulations on this topic along with links to the more detailed rules and guidance.
Whether it is outdoors or indoors, most workers are exposed to air pollution almost every day. Exposure to fumes, gases and dust can cause various health problems including dermatitis and irritation. In addition long term exposure can easily lead to chronic conditions as such as cancer, sick building syndrome and occupational asthma. Luckily, there is a legal framework in the United Kingdom, intended to protect worker’s health at the workplace.
The Health & Safety Act 1974
The act states that people concerned with a property or employers owe the common duty of care to both workers and other people that may visit or use the premises. It is mandatory for employers to exercise this duty for as far as it is reasonably possible. Official page.
The Workplace Heath, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992
The regulation states that suitable and effective measures should be taken to make sure that any confined workplace should be sufficiently ventilated with fresh or purified air. Also, there is an associated code of practice that gives factory and business owners advice on how to effectively comply with this regulation.
For example in ACOP6 (52), regulation 6, it states that air conditioning or mechanical ventilation systems should be adequately and regularly cleaned. The systems should also be maintained and tested properly to ensure that they are free from anything that may pollute the air.
There is also another associated code of practice: ACOP5 (41), which states that all the equipment used at the work place should be in an “efficient state.’ This basically means that the systems and devices around the workplace should be free of any faults likely to affect the safety, welfare and health of workers. If any dangerous problem is discovered, the problem should be fixed immediately. Download the government PDF here.
The Occupiers Liability Act 1984
Places the duty of care on the owner of the premises to prevent risk of injury to others. This includes impairments of mental or physical conditions or any other disease. Link to official page here.
The (COSHH) Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations
The regulation requires employers to make a comprehensive analysis of health risk from harmful substances. This includes dust or human pathogens present in the air. The regulations also require employees to counter exposure of their employees to anything that is harmful to their health, or where this is not pragmatic, to ensure that exposure is properly controlled. Latest COSHH guidelines here.
To summarise, It is the responsibility of all employers in the United Kingdom to ensure that all their employees are safe from any potentially hazardous materials and gases. Failing to meet the legal requirements listed in this guide could not only mean illness among your staff, but also prosecution.