The standard used to certify green buildings may be expanded to consider occupational health and safety hazards throughout the life cycle of a building.
The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, is an internationally recognized standard for certifying green buildings. The Council is piloting a new LEED credit on Prevention through Design
, intended to address work-related health and safety hazards throughout the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a building.
Using a life-cycle safety approach, design and construction reviews will explore ways to reduce hazards and enhance well-being for building personnel including: minimizing the need to work at heights altogether; designing permanent structures like guardrails to prevent falls; reducing exposure to hazardous chemicals by using safer alternatives and effective local ventilation; and assessing and reducing hazards during building reuse including unsafe structures and exposure to lead, asbestos and mould.
The LEED pilot arises from a partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health’s (NIOSH) Prevention through Design
(PtD) campaign. According to NIOSH, “The initiative has been developed to support designing out hazards, the most reliable and effective type of prevention.” The NIOSH program, which includes educational material, encourages prevention in all designs that impact workers.
Through their PtD program, NIOSH is looking to develop additional guidelines to ensure sustainable green jobs also take into account worker health and safety.
Growing research evidence, including one study
by the National Research Council of Canada, finds workers in green office buildings report fewer physical and mental health symptoms.
Other related resources:
NIOSH Prevention through Design Progress Report 2014
NIOSH Green, Safe, and Healthy Jobs
Canada Green Building Council
Blue Green Canada
The Workers Health & Safety Centre has long promoted green jobs
because we understand that healthy and safe workplaces contribute to healthy and safe communities. WHSC training programs
and information services
raise awareness on of a host of hazards and target prevention at the workplace. To learn more, including how to set up a workplace prevention program, contact WHSC and ask to speak with a training services representative.