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Controlling Engine Exhaust Emissions in the workplace
Posted 13th February 2019

As a responsible employer you must ensure your team is always as safe as possible. This is the same no matter the working environment be it an office block, single office, factory, warehouse, laboratory or outdoor construction site.

What are DEEEs

DEEEs stands for Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions that contain a complex mixture of gases, vapours, liquid aerosols and particulate substances. These substances are the products of combustion.

The usual chemical constitutes of diesel engine emissions includes:

  • Carbon (soot) Water (H2O)
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Nitrogen (N2)
  • Oxides of nitrogen (NOx)
  • Oxides of sulphur, eg sulphur dioxide (SO2)
  • Alcohols
  • Aldehydes
  • Ketones
  • Various hydrocarbons (HC)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)


Exhaust emissions from diesel engines are usually more visible than those emitted from petrol engines because they contain over ten times more soot. In general, diesel engines produce less carbon monoxide than petrol engines but more oxides of nitrogen, sulphur oxides, aldehydes and particulate matter.

The soot particulates in DEEEs have hundreds of organic substances adsorbed onto their surface, some of which are potentially more harmful to health than others. The soot content in DEEEs varies from 60% to 80% depending on the fuel used and the type and condition of the engine.


What Industries are most affected?

The major source of workplace exposure to DEEEs is from heavy vehicles that use diesel fuel such as buses, trains, lorries, tractors and from fork-lift trucks, dumpers, diggers and generators.

The construction industry and those working in factories and warehouses are often occupationally exposed to DEEEs due to the amount of vehicles and machinery used that require diesel.


How you should assess DEEEs health risks

The law requires that a suitable assessment of the risks to health which arise from exposure to hazardous substances is made which includes DEEEs. This is covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and several other regulations, in particular the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1995.

In order to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment you need to ask a series of questions, find answers and then come to a conclusion. These questions include:

  1. How likely is it that exposure to DEEEs will happen?
  2. How many people are potentially exposed to the DEEEs and for how long?
  3. Are there any members of staff that are potentially exposed to DEEE’s with existing respiratory problems (asthma etc)
  4. Can the exposures be avoided?
  5. Have there been any ill-health complaints from potentially exposed groups?
  6. Is the engine being operated at full speed or left idling?
  7. What is the purpose of running at idling speed or full speed? Can it be avoided?
  8. What is the state of the engine, and how many miles or hours have been completed?
  9. Can the engine efficiency be improved, and can operating times and distances be reduced?
  10. Improving the efficiency of the engine will also bring financial benefits. What happens to the exhaust emissions: do they enter directly into the workplace, or are they piped away or processed through a treatment system?
  11. What is the type of smoke – is it white, black or blue?
  12. Is there a visible haze in the workplace?
  13. Are there soot deposits in the workplace; how significant are they? What can be done to avoid them?
  14. What methods are in place for regular cleaning of the workplace?
  15. Is it necessary to use diesel engines, or can alternative power sources be used?


Preventions to be put in place to keep all employees and visitors safe

Health and safety legislation requires employers to prevent the exposure of employees and others to substances hazardous to health. You should be able to prevent exposure to DEEEs by adopting one or a combination of options.

This could be anything from changing the method of working, modifying the workplace layout, modifying the operations to eliminate exhaust emissions inside the workplace or substituting diesel fuel with a safer fuel or alternative technology where practicable.

An employer risk assessment should take account of any other risks posed by these alternative fuels and technologies also.


How Euro Environmental can help

If you don’t know where to start with your workplace risk assessment, we can help! Our specialist team can visit your workplace and carry out an appropriate exposure assessment.

Visit our website: http://bit.ly/2RXbqnd or call 01302 311131



If you need any further assistance or would like to know more please get in touch and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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