Kier is trialling a new app that provides outdoor workers with information on their exposure to air pollution.
Developed by King’s College London, Canairy claims to be the world’s first such mobile app. Air pollution has been linked to up to 36,000 early deaths a year and is considered the biggest environmental risk to public health.
Canairy draws on the London Air Quality Network (LAQN) pollution map at King’s College and GPS to calculate a user’s exposure to pollution on an hourly basis.
Once this exposure exceeds World Health Organisation’s (WHO) limits for the concentration of nitrogen dioxide, particulates and ozone, the app notifies the user and suggests tips to reduce their exposure, including working away from traffic, reducing strenuous work or putting up a screen barrier.
The app will also collect information to enable the mapping of where and to what degree exposure is happening across the capital. Employers will be able to access this anonymised exposure data relating to their workers and use it to inform how they schedule work for them to avoid the worst levels of toxic air.
Mitesh Solanki, managing director for Kier Local Authority Highways, said: “At Kier, the health and wellbeing of our workforce is our number one priority and I’m really pleased that our LoHAC (London Highway Alliance) contract with TfL was the first to trial Canairy. This proactive approach to utilising the latest technology will help us reduce our people’s exposure to air pollution, which is a serious concern for all responsible employers.”
Ambient air pollution
Andrew Grieve, senior air quality analyst, King’s College London, said: “As a group, outdoors workers are particularly vulnerable to long-term exposure to ambient air pollution. Within a workplace, the risk of people’s exposure to polluted air can be controlled using well-established methods, but this is more difficult for outdoor workers, many of whom work near or on busy roads.
“The app gathers data from the London network, the most advanced urban air quality monitoring network in the world, which, combined with traffic data and topographical information, produces the most sophisticated model for pollution we have in the UK.
“We hope that the information provided by the app can be used to inform health risk assessments and contribute to scheduling work that reduces exposure. Crucially, it can also help employers and workers to monitor their progress in avoiding unhealthy levels of pollution.”
Together with the app, the British Safety Council is launching a UK-wide Time to Breathe campaign with a publicity event staged in Oxford Circus, central London, on Tuesday 12 March. The campaign aims to draw the attention of employers, policy-makers and regulators in order for them to take the risks of air pollution to the health of outdoor workers seriously.
Research from King’s College London suggests that more than 9,400 people die prematurely due to poor air quality in London alone. In 2013, International Agency for Research on Cancer classified diesel exhaust as carcinogenic to humans.