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Employers obliged to protect their staff from diesel fumes

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a subsidiary of the World Health Organisation, have reclassified diesel fumes as a grade 1…

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a subsidiary of the World Health Organisation, have reclassified diesel fumes as a grade 1 carcinogen, a definite cause of cancer after its research found a 40% increase in lung cancer in people exposed to such fumes at work. Similar research by the University of Edinburgh found that particles from diesel can work their way through the lungs and into the bloodstream, increasing risk of heart attacks and strokes.

This has lead to the Heath and Safety Executive “HSE” and the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health “IOSH” issuing warnings that employers have a legal obligation to protect their employees from diesel fumes. Such obligation may in turn result in claims for diesel fume exposure in the future.  The HSE advise that following the reclassification, diesel fumes are considered to be a substance hazardous to health and therefore come under the remit of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations “COSHH” which requires employers to assess and reduce exposure to the lowest level reasonable practicable. It is estimated that as many as 500,000 workers are exposed to diesel fumes at work, most of which are within the transport industry.