Green and Healthy Jobs - A Presentation based on a report of the same name by Helen Chen

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CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training

Summary Statement

This presentation is based on the report on Green and Healthy jobs by Helen Chen.

Green & Healthy Jobs


Presentation by Don Ellenberger, CPWR

Based on a report by Helen Chen, J.D., M.S., Labor
Occupational Health Program, University of California at Berkeley - 2010

building construction trades logoCPWR – The Center for Construction Research & Training

  • Non-Profit funded by:

      – NIOSH
      – DOE
      – NIEHS

  • Leader in applied research, training and service to the Construction Industry.

highrise construction

“Green” Construction

  • An opportunity to mitigate climate change*
  • A threat in terms of risks to workers*
  • Looking for opportunities to elevate worker health and safety as a priority in the green building sector! ! ! !

Different Definitions of Green Jobs:

  • Preserve & enhance environmental quality
  • Be economically sustainable (living wage)
  • Promote the health and safety of workers
  • Doesn’t compromise the health and safety of surrounding communities

Green = Sustainable ?

  • If a worker dies on a green job, is it sustainable?
  • LEED jobs favor environmental issues over occupational safety and health
  • No statistical difference between green and non-green projects in terms of construction worker safety and health.
  • Green jobs ≈ safe jobs

Classifying and categorizing green jobs (construction and non-construction)

  • Renewable energy generation
  • Transportation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water conservation
  • Green construction
  • Energy Trading
  • Environmental protection
  • Recycling and waste reduction

Classification within the green construction sector

  • Renewable energy generation

      – Solar energy installation
      – Wind turbine service

  • Energy efficiency

      – Boiler technicians
      – Insulation installers
      – HVAC installers / maintenance technicians

  • Green construction

      – Green increased demand
      – Green enhanced skills

Occupational hazards in green construction

  • New technology hazards:

      – Solar Power
      – Wind Power
      – Weatherization

  • Existing products – increased hazards:

      – Skylights
      – Atriums
      – Recycling
      – Indoor Air Quality

New Technology

turbine blade

More & Different Insulating Materials



Green Construction Jobs

  • More atriums to increase natural light

      – More use of scaffolding, so more risk of falls
      – NORA identifies scaffolding as one of the major risk factors for falls


  • More skylights

      – Not built to withstand heavy loads
      – Usually don’t have guardrails


  • More recycling of construction debris

      – More ergonomic stress
      – More punctures
      – More slips and falls
      – More struck by

garbage disposal

  • More use of building materials with postconsumer recycled content

      – Coal, or fly ash in concrete
      – Arsenic, mercury, etc
      – Grinding / drilling cured concrete


photo of microscopic particles

  • More weatherization

      – Electrical - knoband- tube wiring in older homes
      – Electrical - exterior caulking near power lines
      – Lead and asbestos exposure
      – Isocyanate / other


NIOSH’s Top Compelling Activities

  • #3 – Include OSH into green and sustainable standards as they are being updated
  • #4 – Include OSH in procurement and construction
  • #6 – Integrate safety and health into green elements of contractor specifications
  • #9 – Develop, validate and disseminate a LEED-like OSHA rating system

We can quantify

LEED rates jobs on:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental air quality
  • Innovation and design

So let US rate jobs on:

  • Owner commitment to safety
  • Safety and health professionals/contracts
  • Safety and health planning
  • Training and education
  • Employee involvement

There is a tool in development to do this

LEED-like OSH rating system

LEED-like OSH rating system

LEED-like OSH rating system

Recommendations for elevating green construction safety as a priority in building

  • Incorporate worker health into the green jobs debate
  • Promote prevention through design (PtD)
  • Incorporate worker health into green building certification programs
  • Promote construction safety training

Helen Chen’s Report: