Transport safety in the workplace

Vehicle exhaust dangers in the workplace

Guide

Exhaust emissions are at best unhealthy and at worst they can be fatal.

Both petrol and diesel engines produce carbon monoxide, soot and other contaminants. Prolonged exposure to vehicle exhaust fumes and smoke can lead to breathing difficulties and increase the risk of cancer in the long term.

As part of your health and safety responsibilities, you are legally required to manage the risks from harmful substances such as exhaust fumes.

How to control exhaust emissions in the workplace

It's your responsibility to prevent or at least control exposure to exhaust emissions. Actions you can take include:

  • properly tuning and maintaining engines
  • fitting control systems such as catalytic converters
  • enforcing procedures such as ensuring that engines are switched off when not needed
  • fitting extraction fans in areas where fumes can build up

You should also watch out for warning signs. Blue or black smoke produced by poorly maintained or faulty engines is particularly harmful. The build-up of soot on walls can also show that diesel fumes are excessive.

Read the Health & Safety Executive guide on diesel engine exhaust emissions.

In confined or completely enclosed spaces, you must use electric-propulsion or possibly liquefied petroleum gas fuel to avoid a build-up of fumes, eg in forklift trucks.

You should also include emissions in your health, safety and environmental risk assessment.

You should also be aware of the level of noise caused by your vehicles when moving around at night as well as the risk of emitting excessive dust, grit and fumes.

Reducing your vehicle use and choosing more environmentally friendly alternatives can reduce your environmental impact and benefit your business financially.