Active travel and air quality in the workplace
Poor air quality affects people’s health and damages the environment.
Exposure to air pollution can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, asthma and lung cancer, and it can reduce life expectancy. Every year, poor air quality is responsible for almost 500 early deaths in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent.
As well as the devastating individual costs, poor air quality also has a financial cost to businesses. Poor air quality can affect worker's health and wellbeing, which can impact on attendance and productivity. A study by Defra in 2012 found that poor air quality costs the UK economy around £2.7 billion.
Locally, there are two main pollutants causing concern: nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. Road traffic is the main source of these pollutants. By reducing the number of vehicles on the road, or by changing the fuel that they use, we can reduce the amount of pollution created.
You can help to reduce the number of vehicles on the road by offering different active travel options in your workplace. Not only will this help to improve your staff’s health and wellbeing, it can also reduce your car parking requirement and lower your businesses carbon footprint.
Active travel can include:
- Public transport
- Car sharing
- Electric vehicles
Support in Staffordshire – Staffordshire Air Aware
Staffordshire County Council wants to support businesses to promote active and sustainable travel, and has the following resources available to do this:
- Business travel plan support - By providing free access to Modeshift STARS' Business Travel Planning Software.
- Support with setting up a pool bike scheme.
- Cycle and walking maps.
- Active and sustainable travel communications toolkits.
- Cycle training (subject to availability).
To get involved, visit the Staffordshire Air Aware webpages.
To check the air quality around your business, take a look at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' interactive map and input your postcode.
Resources to promote active travel in the workplace
Take a look at these useful websites, guidance and campaigns to help promote active travel in your workplace.
Campaigns and websites:
Sustrans are the charity that makes it easier for people to walk and cycle. Their website contains lots of information on active travel, including a specific section for 'Workplaces', which has guidance on ‘Changing the way your staff travel to work’ and information on the ‘Workplace travel challenge’. The ‘Get active' section covers topics like: ‘How to start cycling to work’ and 'How to improve bike storage for offices and employees'.
Clean Air Day normally takes place on the third Thursday in June (although due to Covid-19 it took place on the 8 October in 2020). Why not encourage your employees to walk or cycle to work for the day? There are free 'workplace' resources to get you started.
Cycle to Work Day encourages adults across the UK to get on their bike and give cycle commuting a go for one day. It’s an easy way to boost your employee’s health and improve their wellbeing. Not to mention being good for the environment.
This year’s event takes place on the 5 August 2021. So why not encourage your employees to dust off their old bike and get ready to join in the UK’s biggest one-day celebration of cycle commuting.
A useful webpage to help your employees find out what they can do to improve air quality in Staffordshire. There are also a number of resources business can use to promote air quality, such as posters, social media materials and email footers.
There are loads of beautiful walking routes around Staffordshire. Take a look at the walks near your home or workplace.
If you’re keen to get out on your bike, take a look at the cycle maps for each district of Staffordshire. There’s even a cycling journey planner to help you to plan ahead, giving you options to take the fastest or the quietest route.
Take a look at the Physical Activity in the Workplace page for ideas on how to support your employees to improve their physical activity levels.
ECO Stars encourages and helps operators of HGV’s, buses, coaches, vans and taxis to run fleets in the most efficient and green way. Why not join Staffordshire and Stoke’s ECO Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme?
Get in touch
Let us know what you’re doing in your workplace on active travel by emailing WorkplaceHealth@staffordshire.gov.uk.