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I work in the ground floor of an office. The air conditioning and heating system is linked directly to the street outside. This means that whatever is going on outside comes in to us – we're right next to a main street, so our main problem is with cigarette smoke, but we're also concerned about the amount of traffic fumes coming in, too.

We've complained about it a fair bit, but the landlord says it's our company's problem, while our company argues that the landlord should sort it. Meanwhile, obviously, we're still having to put up with whatever's coming through. Not sure whether there's anyone else we can go to to try and force a resolution to this before somebody gets seriously ill.

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    Where are you located? In the US you could file an OSHA complaint. – David K Oct 6 '16 at 12:13
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    Do you have am H&S rep in the company? If not, get in touch with HSE. Also, the company will have a contract with the landlords. They should consult this (via a legal professional) to determine whose responsibility it is. – JohnHC Oct 6 '16 at 12:16
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    @DavidK It is tagged England... I am guessing that means UK – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 6 '16 at 12:26
  • Do you have access to the A/C system? Maybe replacing the filter with a HEPA rated filter will help. Failing that, check your lease and look for better offices.. that often gets a response from the landlord. – PeteCon Oct 6 '16 at 18:53
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It is your company's responsibility to ensure you work in a safe environment, which might include a) taking the matter up with the landlord b) carry out alterations, if the lease permits them to do so c) moving to a different location; d) providing safety equipment and training to wear it and suitable breaks in places where the air is 'clean', or e) investigating and concluding the environment is safe enough. You have no relationship with the landlord, only the company can deal with them.

Your options include:

  • Call the Health and Safety Executive. The number (0345 300 9923) should be on an HSE poster in your workplace. They have very few staff so it's unlikely they'll inspect the place but they might have some suggestions. Call them outside of work so you can speak freely.
  • Join a union, who can help you organise together with your colleagues to put pressure on your employer.
  • Raise the concern in writing; find out who in the company is responsible for health and safety; ask to see risk assessments. These are steps that are best taken when you've got a union to advise you, so you can ensure procedures are followed and you're better protected against victimisation.
  • Wait until you have cancer try to take them to court while trying to hold down a job and attend frequent medical appointments at the same time.

The last option is clearly not a good option, so you need to convince them you're serious.

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