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Preventing occupational lung disease

09 November 2017

Lung disease remains a serious problem in the workplace. This years’ Workplace Healthy Lungs Summit, taking place on 22 November 2017, will describe what the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is doing about it, what you can do, and what science and evidence can tell us. Here, Summit speaker Lauren Kyle (Head of Cleaning UK & Ireland, Sodexo) speaks about the problem of work-related lung disease and what Sodexo is doing to prevent it.

Sodexo is a world-leading services provider, delivering a wide range of quality of life services to clients in the public and the private sector and in many markets including healthcare, education, corporate, defence, sports & leisure and justice. In the UK and Ireland alone Sodexo employs 34,000 people at some 1,850 locations.

At the heart of our business is the health, safety and wellbeing of those we serve and our employees.

Here in the UK and Ireland our HSEQ teams and subject matter experts work closely together with our frontline colleagues to identify improvements we can make in all areas of health and safety.  

One of these areas is lung health. When we changed our cleaning chemical supplier we set up a working group of subject matter experts for cleaning and representatives from our health and safety team. They worked together to agree a range of products, which were not only suitable for our activities, but were also the safest products possible.

Within our business there are a number of services we provide and activities we undertake where lung health and pollution is an area of concern and, at Sodexo, we not only consider the health of our employees but we also recognise we have a responsibility to consider the communities we operate in and our environmental impact.

By the mere nature of our horticultural services business we have to consider changes we can make which positively impact the wellbeing of our teams and the environment. An obvious example is the regular use of chemicals in the form of pesticides; to address this we are actively working to reduce chemical weed control usage by increasing cultivation as opposed to spraying, reducing application frequencies and trialling alternatives such as hot foam weed control. Another is the use of equipment such as battery powered blowers and strimmers which reduce air (and noise) pollution.

This area of the business is reliant on its vehicle fleet and we are well aware of the adverse effect emissions have on lung health and, for this reason, we have now purchased 100 new vehicles which have Euro6 engines, designed to reduce the levels of harmful exhaust emissions with smart regenerative charging, acceleration control and auto-start-stop. They also require the use of the additive Adblu to reduce particulates going into the environment from the exhaust.

A few years ago we introduced ‘engineered water’ solutions into the business primarily to reduce the environmental impact of using chemicals for cleaning, but the use of this has also had a noticeable effect in the reduction in upper respiratory tract symptoms. This technology is now often referred to by our on-site teams as ‘magic water’ - a compelling reason to continue with its use.

As a company that promises to improve the quality of life of people, corporate responsibility lies at the core of everything we do. I have talked about just some of the areas where Sodexo is taking action – we have a comprehensive strategy which outlines our ambition to create positive change for individuals, communities and the environment.

At November’s Workplace Healthy Lungs Summit I will discuss these areas and more as industry leaders come together to share best practice and show how we can lead the way in tackling workplace lung disease.

Lauren Kyle will speak at this years’ HSL Workplace Healthy Lungs Summit taking place on 22 November 2017. You can book your place here: https://www.hsl.gov.uk/health-and-safety-training-courses/workplace-healthy-lungs-summit-2017