British Safety Council takes #TimetoBreathe to COP26

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In March 2019, the British Safety Council took to the streets of London with our air pollution campaign ‘Time to Breathe’, which calls for clean air for outdoor workers. We are delighted to take the Time to Breathe campaign on the road once more to Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Summit.

For two weeks from 31 October to 12 November a large banner will alert passers-by on the busy Broomielaw road of the risks to outdoor workers’ health from toxic air.

During the conference, our new chair, Peter McGettrick, and Glasgow City Council’s principal planning officer, Paola Pasino will gather media there for a photo opportunity alongside four outdoor workers who will literally then take our message out into the streets, carrying flags with our logo and #TimetoBreathe.

Global warning: Glasgow will be at the centre of talks and negotiations on climate change from 31 October to 12 November. Photograph: iStock

At a time when the world’s eyes are on the UK and the example it’s setting on climate change and the environment, it was disappointing recently to see our politicians push setting new targets on air quality back to October next year. We need measures that will save lives and protect people by cutting air pollution and action taken to improve the air we breathe, which is why we will be using the spotlight of the COP26 to draw attention to our campaign.

We will also be at the Summit to report on it for our magazine and here on our website

Some time ago the British Safety Council published a poster depicting a person facing a large sumo wrestler. It bore the caption ‘assess the risk’.

An equally enormous risk today that we face is climate change. Yet, what is the shape and size of that risk and how can we prepare for it? Crucially, in the health and safety community, what impacts will climate change have on the health and wellbeing of our workers and how can we get ready for that and take precautionary steps?

These, and more, are some of the questions Safety Management will be asking at the UN Climate Change Summit in November. We will be there reporting from the conference on the global discussions, technological innovations, human stories and, of course, we will consider what this all means for our community.

Key areas to explore will be the increasing number of heatwaves predicted. Although these will be worse in parts of continental Europe, America and Australia, the UK will not be exempt with the Met Office predicting that the number of extremely hot days in the UK could increase four-fold. Extreme heat can kill or cause other long-term health problems. As workplace temperature is one of the hazards employers must legally address, we will be looking into this.

Staycations this summer were marred by frequent rain. According to Aviva, July 2021 saw the highest monthly number of commercial flood claims, double the previous high. With the Environment Agency recently warning that flooding will be a risk factor for businesses and could disrupt supply chains, we will find out more about this and the potential future impact on the workforce too.



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