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Awareness campaign receives resounding support

24 March 2010

The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) officially launched the Clean Air? Take Care! campaign last week at a special event held at The Cabinet War Rooms in London. Developed in conjunction with the HSE and other leading industry stakeholders, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of exposure to hazardous substances such as dusts, fumes and solvent vapours, which could cause occupational respiratory diseases.

It is estimated that up to 12,000 deaths each year currently could be due to past exposures to hazardous substances.

The FIT3 survey, commissioned by the HSE, showed that 21% of employers considered that their employees could face a risk of breathing problems or asthma caused by working with chemicals, dusts and fibres. Another survey by HSE indicated that 29% of workers regarded themselves as regularly having to breathe in dust or fumes that could cause respiratory conditions and nearly half thought that the risks could be realistically be reduced. Those using respiratory protective equipment (RPE) are often still not adequately protected due to poor selection, use and maintenance of the equipment. This is self evident from a variety of sources including HSE’s enforcement database4. Many fatalities in confined spaces/oxygen deficient atmospheres could have been prevented if the RPE was correctly selected and used.

Through Clean Air? Take Care! the BSIF hopes that people will become more aware of the issues surrounding respiratory hazards and the incorrect selection of RPE, helping to protect today’s workforce and resulting in a significant reduction in related illnesses and fatalities.

A range of resources have been designed to create awareness by offering simple advice to users and specifiers of RPE at different levels in an organisation, to enable them to correctly select and implement a full respiratory protection programme. Thought provoking films and informative tools, including a user friendly guide to RPE use, workplace poster and easy to follow selection guide, are suitable for every small, medium and large industrial company and are available from  and will also be available through RPE distributors and manufactures.

Dr Bob Rajan OBE, HSE, commented: "Although RPE looks easy, this is not always the case and everyone has lessons to learn. I am confident that through the Clean Air? Take Care! campaign these lessons will be delivered with the support of stakeholders and distributors. The range of tools for both employers and employees will help ensure the important messages get across and are absorbed, bringing about a sustained behavioural change within the workplace."

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