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Importance of Including Construction Worker Safety and Health in Green Building

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Title: Importance of Including Construction Worker Safety and Health in Green Building


1
Importance of Including Construction Worker
Safety and Health in Green Building
  • Karla Armenti, ScD.
  • American Public Health Association
  • Annual Meeting 2004

2
Sustainable Building Practices
  • The topic of sustainable building practices is a
    large one. It is becoming a topic of increasing
    concern for several reasons.
  • First, our planet is comprised of finite
    resources and there is growing consensus that we
    must begin to use them more wisely.
  • Second, many of the products that are currently
    used in the building industry are toxic to human
    health, and there are alternatives.
  • Source Patrick Miller, The Jordan Institute

3
Green Buildings
  • Green buildings are intended to reduce energy
    usage, minimize indoor air quality problems,
    recycle water and waste, and provide a
    comfortable indoor environment for its occupants.
  • Green buildings are designed to interact with the
    surrounding environment.
  • It is assumed that by using environmentally
    friendly materials, these buildings are safe for
    everyone. But, are they really?
  • What about the construction workers building
    these buildings?
  • Are we shifting risk from the general
    environment to the work environment?

4
  • RISK SHIFTING….unintended consequences when
    fixing an environmental problem inadvertently
    increases the risks faced by workers (or vice
    versa)
  • toxic to ergonomic??
  • toxic to physical (noise, safety)??
  • Inhalation to dermal ??
  • Known to less known??
  • VOC to non-VOC??

5
Background lets start with general industrial
activity
  • Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 A Model for
    Sustainable Economic Growth and Development
  • Reduction or elimination of pollution at the
    source
  • Substitute with less harmful chemicals and
    processes
  • Use resources and energy more efficiently
  • Protect natural resources

6
  • Many environmental programs do not include worker
    safety and health
  • Many existing P2 case studies and programs do not
    address worker impacts.
  • Environmental measurement methods (e.g. emission
    inventories) do not allow a sensitive prediction
    of the impact on worker exposures.

7
Why is it important to link P2 and occupational
health?
  • Allows for full participation by all stakeholders
    government agencies, industry, labor,
    community.
  • Provides an integrated approach to establish
    interventions that decrease or eliminate
    potential harm to workers and the environment.

8
Benefits of Integrating Both Disciplines
  • Provides opportunity to practice primary
    prevention - avoids reliance on end-of-pipe
    solutions.
  • Prevents risk shifting between and among
    workplace and environment by evaluating more than
    one media at a time.

9
Occupational and Environmental Practitioners
  • Need to work together to comprehensively and
    simultaneously address toxics in the workplace
    and the environment in order to prevent risk
    shifting and to take advantage of opportunities
    for simultaneous improvements.
  • What are some of the projects and programs out
    there that are already doing this important
    work?

10
  • Summary of Literature and Projects Promoting the
    Integration of Occupational and Environmental
    Health

11
Pioneering Activities
  • 1989 Passage of the Toxics Use Reduction Act in
    Massachusetts
  • Toxics use reduction means in-plant changes in
    production processes or raw materials that
    reduce, avoid, or eliminate the use of toxic or
    hazardous substances or generation of hazardous
    by-products per unit of product, so as to reduce
    risks to the health of workers, consumers, or the
    environment without shifting risks between
    workers, consumers or parts of the environment.

12
Pioneering Activities
  • 1995 Rafael Moure-Eraso. OSHAs Senior Policy
    Advisor on Chemical Exposure Prevention (SPACEP)
    Six month study of P2/OHS. EPA/OPPT support (ONE
    Committee).
  • 1999 COMMON SENSE APPROACHES TO PROTECTING
    WORKERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT Interagency
    Cooperation towards Comprehensive Solutions -A
    Workshop sponsored by OSHA, NIOSH, and EPA,
    Washington, DC.

13
Conference Presentations
  • 1995 to Present. Sessions on the integration of
    occupational and environmental health at NPPR,
    APHA and AIHA.
  • D. Sivin, Johns Hopkins University. Pollution
    Prevention and Worker Toxic Exposures A Method.
  • K. Armenti. UMASS Lowell. Primary Prevention
    for Occupational Health. How Pollution
    Prevention has affected Worker Safety and Health
    at four Printed Wire Board (PWB) facilities in
    Massachusetts.

14
  • Conference Presentations, Contd
  • M. Flum. UMASS Lowell. Worker Participation in
    Pollution Prevention -- From Here to the Future.
  • M. Wilson, UC Berkeley. When Environmental
    Policy Leads to Occupational Disease A Case
    Study in the California Vehicle Repair Industry
  • B. Rosenberg. Tufts University. Riding the
    Green Wave Can We Use Environmental Laws to
    Regulate Occupational Hazards?

15
  • Conference Presentations, Contd
  • J. Tessler. UMASS Lowell. Capturing Ergonomic
    Risk Shifting in Pollution Prevention
    Initiatives Conceptual Challenges and Proposed
    Solutions.
  • M. Gillen. EPA OPPT. What occupational health
    and environmental specialists need to know to
    protect workers and the environment.
  • S. Lee, UMASS Lowell. Successful Implementation
    Strategies for Environmental Management Systems
    in Public Organizations.

16
Integrated Programs/Projects
  • P2 Training Program for Workers (Occupational
    Training Education Consortium, Rutgers
    University)
  • Sustainable Hospitals Project (Lowell Center for
    Sustainable Production) and Hospitals for a
    Healthy Environment Green Cleaning in
    Hospitals

17
Integrated Programs/Projects
  • Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project
  • Project Partners
  • US EPA, Cal/EPA Department of Toxic Substance
    Control
  • Santa Clara County Pollution Prevention Program
  • City of Los Angeles
  • City of Richmond
  • City of Santa Barbara
  • Local Government Commission

18
Integrated Programs/Projects
  • Canadian Labour Congress
  • "A Workers Manual on Pollution Prevention - How
    to Clean Up Your Workplace and the Environment at
    the Same Time"

19
Integrated Programs/Projects
  • EPAs Design for the Environment Integrated
    Environmental Management Systems
  • EPAs Green Engineering Program Sustainable
    Design of Processes and Products
  • Textbook, Green Engineering Environmentally
    Conscious Design of Chemical Processes

20
Integrated Programs/Projects
  • Small Business Safety Officer (SBSO)
  • A computer program that integrates occupational
    and environmental risk assessment in one tool.
  • Encourages toxics use reduction and provides
    technical assistance to find cleaner, safer, and
    cheaper alternatives to hazardous materials and
    chemicals.
  • Under development.  

21
Discussion Groups
  • How do issues about integrating OHS and P2 relate
    to your work?
  • Are you or your colleagues doing anything in this
    area?
  • If yes, what tools or resources have you used to
    consider both OHS and EHS risks together?
  • If no, what tools or resources do you see are
    needed to allow for better integration of OHS and
    P2?

22
More Discussion Questions
  • What barriers do you see are in the way to
    adopting this approach more fully?
  • What are ways of disseminating this approach, and
    sharing successes of projects integrating OHS and
    P2?
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