First, I would like to make it clear we should do everything we can to reduce worker injuries on construction sites.
Second, I hate repeating or referencing this article (New Research Reveals the Safety Hazards of Green Building) because it is so offensive to my core belief that green building is good for everyone. If I ignore the article it might go away. But if I remain silent I am silently endorsing it. I am afraid someone might read it and actually believe that Green Buildings are Hazardous. This is just not the case.
So let’s look at some of the language used: First they are repeatedly using the word perceived. What is a perceived risk? What would be the perceived risk to the general population if these green building strategies were not instituted?
There is a perceived 41% higher risk a safety hazard associated with installing sustainable roofing. The article describes white roofing as heavier and slipperier than traditional black roofing and the white color increases glare for the workers. They do not discuss the fact that the black roofing martial is often adhered with hot asphalt or with blow torches. Workers have had specialized training to reduce the risk of burns and building fires during installation.
There is a perceived 37% increase in risk from installing PV Panels for onsite renewable energy. Again PV panels are heavy and are installed high above the ground increasing the risk of falling. Workers need to use back supports, adequate manpower, and be properly tied off to reduce injury. It would be impractical to suggest that buildings not install roofing because of a perceived increase of risk to workers.
There is a perceived 36% additional cuts, abrasions, and lacerations from construction waste management. The supervisor on the job needs to adequately communicate and enforce the Construction Waste Management Policy to reduce the need to dumpster dive and if a worker does need to go in, they need proper safety equipment such as gloves, boots, long pants and long sleeves.
There is a perceived 32% heightened risk of falls from installing skylights and atriums to meet the daylight and views credit. Workers need to be properly trained to install skylights and atrium work areas need proper construction railings installed to reduce the risk of falls. This is not new technology. It is common sense.
So to try to get some positive out of this negative article I would suggest this article should have emphasized the following:
• Workers need new training on installing new materials.
• Workers may need new safety equipment while installing the new materials.
• Workers need to use common sense and use the already required safety equipment and procedures properly.
Linda Smithe, RA, CSI, CDT, LEED AP BD & C