New Research Reveals the Safety Hazards of Green Building
LEED Credit: Stormwater Quality Control
Identified Risk: Workers have an increased risk of falling from increased excavation and trenching.
Suggested Mitigation: Designing detention ponds with gradual slopes to avoid steep embankments may help reduce risk of falling. Contractors could plan concurrent tasks away from the excavation.
LEED Credit: Heat Island Effect—Roof
Identified Risk: White roofing options can be heavier and slipperier than traditional black roofing material, which increases the risk for overexertion and falls. The bright material can interrupt line of sight and increase the risk of slips and falls during installation.
Suggested Mitigation: Tan or light gray membranes could be used to decrease reflectivity, or contractors could require tinted eyewear. Rubber walkpads could be provided for added traction, and contractors could purchase a greater number of smaller rolls to avoid overexertion from weight.
LEED Credit: Innovative Wastewater Technologies
Identified Risk: Risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals comes from construction a dual waste water system from installing additional piping.
Suggested Mitigation: Contractors might require non-polyester gloves and respiratory protection and employ extensive quality-control measures.
LEED Credit: Optimize Energy Performance
Identified Risk: An increased risk of falling comes from a more ladder time installing added wires and controls, and double caulking.
Suggested Mitigation: Designers could incorporate prefabricated panels of the exterior skin system, framing, structure and vapor barrier, and contractors could caulk from the building’s interior before installing finishing materials.
LEED Credit: On-Site Renewable Energy
Identified Risk: Falls and overexertion are more likely from installing heavy PV panels, usually on the roof.
Suggested Mitigation: Designers could place PV panels closer to the ground or keep them as far from the edge of the roof as possible. Higher parapets and designed tie-off points may also lessen the risk of falling.
LEED Credit: Enhanced Commissioning
Identified Risk: The presence of commissioners distracts workers, increasing risk of falls and injuries.
Suggested Mitigation: Commissioning agents could receive a site-specific orientation and be provided with personal protective equipment. Agents could be required to pass an OSHA safety course.
LEED Credit: Construction Waste Management
Identified Risk: “Dumpster diving” to retrieve mistakenly trashed recyclable materials increases risk of sprains and cuts.
Suggested Mitigation: Suggested solutions include utilizing a third-party, local waste management company to sort the recyclable material offsite, using multiple, smaller waste receptacles around the construction site, or creating an industry-wide, color-coded labeling system to differentiate recycling from trash.