Categories: Chemicals, Construction, Engineering Control, Exposure, Green, Personal protective equipment
March 21st, 2012 1:55 pm ET -
David A. Marlow, BS
Environmentally friendly doesn’t necessarily mean worker friendly. In many cases, new “green” technologies and products have reached the market without being adequately evaluated to determine whether they pose health or safety risks to workers in manufacture, deployment, or use. Spray polyurethane foam—commonly referred to as SPF—is a case in point. Its use as insulation has been on the upswing because of the laudable aim of builders and property owners to improve energy efficiency. As popular as it has become, however, much remains unknown about spray polyurethane foam—specifically the health implications of its amines, glycols, and phosphate upon workers.
Polyurethane foam has a high R-factor (or R-value), so it resists the flow of heat and, when used as insulation, increases a building’s energy efficiency. Because of this, it has become a favorite in the world of energy-conscious construction and renovation. While better insulation clearly means less energy consumption, what’s not clear is the level of protection and ventilation workers need so that they remain safe during the installation process.
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Categories: Green, Prevention through Design
June 13th, 2011 1:35 pm ET -
Thomas Cunningham, PhD, and Garrett Burnett, MS, MBA
Green is sexy. It’s in vogue. It gets splashed on billboards and endorsed by celebrities. Safety on the other hand? Not so much. Over the past few years, the environmental movement has picked up steam and seeped into the national consciousness. Heck, even school kids can tell you what it means to be green—and they’ll probably even throw in that it’s cool, to boot. Occupational safety has remained a niche topic, the domain of industrial hygienists, regulators, and technical experts. The only school kids discussing it are working on advanced degrees. Let’s face it: Jack Johnson hasn’t written any songs about worker safety and health.
Green and safety are both related to behavior changes that take place at national, organizational, and personal levels. They share an impetus for action. Categorically, the motivations that move nations, organizations, and people to behave in environmentally friendly ways are the same as those that encourage safe work practices.
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January 4th, 2010 11:00 am ET -
Matt Gillen, MS, CIH, Pietra Check, MPH and Christine Branche, PhD
Considerations for making green and sustainable jobs safe and healthy for workers
Green jobs and sustainable practices are being used more and more in a wide range of industry sectors and products, from farms to office buildings. There are no official definitions for green jobs and sustainable work practices, so we define them broadly here as jobs and practices that help to improve the environment. For the purposes of this blog, such jobs could include (a) new types of jobs related to green technologies, processes, outcomes and products; (b) existing jobs where green practices and technologies are being introduced; and (c) existing jobs that create products viewed as important to the green economy. These types of jobs and practices all aim to reduce energy use and environmental impacts while preserving social and economic benefits. But do “green” and “sustainable” also mean safe and healthy for workers?
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July 1st, 2009 9:00 am ET -
Christine Branche, PhD
Green jobs—good for the environment, good for the economy. But are green jobs good for workers? The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and its partners recently launched the Going Green: Safe and Healthy Jobs initiative to make sure that green jobs are good for workers by integrating worker safety and health into “green jobs” and environmental sustainability.
Green jobs, which have been defined broadly as jobs that help improve the environment and enhance sustainability, offer opportunities as well as challenges for workers. Examples of green jobs include installation and maintenance of solar panels and generators; construction and maintenance of wind energy turbines; jobs related to recycling; jobs related to the manufacture of green products; and jobs where green products are used in traditional fields such as agriculture, healthcare, and the service sector.
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