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Safety Hazards of Green Construction

Shutterstock Photo - By goodluz



Sustainability has become an essential element of construction. New building projects aim to reduce negative impacts on the environment while also producing a positive situation for the people who will inhabit the space. Architects now look to build structures that reduce the waste of water and energy by building with modern material.

However, it’s not always easy to be green. Over the last century, the safety of work zones have improved drastically, but now there are new issues associated with building green.

Green Sites Are High-Risk for Workers

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building rating system for construction projects. It is globally recognized as the standard for sustainable construction. A study that came out in the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management concluded that there are increased risks to workers on LEED-certified projects compared to workers on traditional construction sites. The study highlighted that workers at LEED-certified construction zones complete high-risk tasks that are not found in traditional work zones.

The study found a 36% increase in injury from construction material, a 24% increase in falls, and a 14% increase in exposure to hazardous substances. You can imagine that installing solar panels on a roof has a much greater risk of injury than laying bricks.

While this study highlights some marginal risks, I don’t think this should be a deterrent to green construction. The collective reward of building green immensely outweighs a low number of workplace injuries. However, it is important to encourage green work zones to maintain safety when possible.

Everyone expects to complete their workday safely, even if they work in a hazardous environment. As a workers’ comp lawyer, I have seen countless examples of construction accidents.

The fact is that accidents happen across the board, no matter what kind the project is being worked on. There might be more risk involved with green building, but keep in mind that green building is a relatively new effort. I assume that all new techniques of construction have been met with some form of opposition over the years.

Green Construction Will Get Better

I would argue that LEED-certified construction projects will actually become far safer in the coming years. The precision of architectural companies who build green will continue to improve and accidents will decrease. New ideas create new challenges, and sustainable building is no acceptation.

“Going green” has been the trend of many industries in recent decades. The prospect of green homes, green cities, and green roads makes the future of America sound like the Emerald City of Oz — but there is a long way to go.

As politicians continue to squabble about climate change, it’s nice to see real advancement in how our communities are built. Sustainable construction is on the rise, and designers are aiming to make buildings that produce as much energy as they consume.

The way of the future is polished with self-driving cars, energy effect buildings and sleek modern home design. Imagine the colossal benefit if this country was built on self-sustaining energy.

Injury and accidents on a job site will always be a concern, whether someone is building a skyscraper or a doghouse. The study referenced above concluded that it is more dangerous to build green rather than typical construction practices; however, this should not be taken pessimistically. We should recognize the opportunity to support and advance the work done by sustainable construction operations.

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