Are Green Building Features Safe for Preventive Maintenance Workers? Examining the Evidence

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Abstract

Background

Many newly constructed green buildings (GB) are certified using the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for new construction and major renovation which focuses on architectural and mechanical design to conserve energy, reduce environmental harm, and enhance indoor quality for occupants. This study evaluated the preventive maintenance (PM) worker occupational safety and health (OSH) risks related to the design of GB.

Methods

PM job hazard analyses (JHA) were performed on the tasks required to operate and maintain five GB features selected from 13 LEED certified GB. A 22-item JHA and OSH risk scoring system were developed.

Results

Potentially serious OSH hazards included: green roofs made of slippery material without fall protection; energy recovery wheels and storm water harvesting systems in confined spaces; skylights without guard rails; and tight geothermal well mechanical rooms constraining safe preventive practices.

Conclusions

GB can present PM OSH risks and these should be eliminated in the building design phase.

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