Green construction is no safer

Green construction is no less hazardous for workers than the less environmentally concerned alternative, a US study has found.

Researchers from Oregon State University and East Carolina University compared reportable injury and illness rates at sites building to the highly sought after green Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard with comparable conventional sites. 

The study concluded: “There appears to be little or no difference between green and non-green projects in terms of construction worker safety and health. With both green and non-green buildings having the same safety performance, a question arises as to whether LEED buildings should be labelled as sustainable buildings.”

In a separate paper in the same issue of the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, the same authors call for a sustainable construction safety and health (SCSH) rating system to “rate projects based on the importance given to construction worker safety and health and the degree of implementation of safety and health elements.”

The public health blog The Pump Handle backs the approach. A 15 April blog entry notes: “What a great idea! This takes a LEED-like approach to rating worker safety and health.

“Now, how do we roll out this good idea with LEED-like flare and fanfare such that occupational safety and health becomes as attractive and interesting to the masses as the concept of green buildings?”

  •  S Rajendran and others. Impact of green building design and construction on worker safety and health, Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, volume 135, issue 10, pages 1058-1066, 2009 [abstract].
  • S Rajendran and others. Development and initial validation of Sustainable Construction Safety and Health Rating System, Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, volume 135, issue 10, pages 1067-1075, 2009 [abstract].
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