By Alan Jones, Press Association Industrial Correspondent
Employers are being urged to do more to protect workers such as bus drivers, seafarers and mechanics from exposure to diesel exhaust emissions.
The TUC said more than 100,000 employees could be at risk, warning that exposure causes hundreds of deaths every year from bladder and lung cancer.
Even short-term exposure can cause health problems such as headaches, breathing problems and eye irritation, the union organisation said.
The TUC called on employers to use alternatives to diesel such as battery-powered vehicles, replace older engines or take practical steps such as keeping doors and windows open.
General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Diesel exhaust is now one of the biggest workplace killers after asbestos. It’s a ticking time bomb for tens of thousands of workers around the UK.
“Employers must take action to keep their staff safe and remove diesel emissions in their workplaces.”
Alison Cook, director of policy at the British Lung Foundation, commented: “We know that pollution from diesel vehicles is linked to lung disease, heart disease, lung cancer and stroke, so workers who drive these vehicles, or who work near the roadside, are extremely vulnerable to dirty air.”