240786 Construction worker safety and health in the green economy

Monday, October 31, 2011

Xiuwen Sue Dong, DrPH , Data Center, CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, MD
Xuanwen Wang, PHD , Data Center, CPWR, Silver Spring
Christina Nuñez Daw, PHD , Data Center, CPWR, Silver Spring, MD
Background and Objective: Green and sustainable construction practices and projects have increased dramatically in the last decade. Nevertheless, current critical criteria of “green jobs” and “green construction” do not include measures of worker health and safety. This study will assess new and excess hazards related to green jobs in the construction industry.

Methods: We linked data from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey and the green occupational categories developed by the O*NET. We estimated workforce involvement as well as hazards and exposures related to green activities identified in the O*NET for construction occupations.

Results: We estimated that up to 91% of the construction workforce could be directly or indirectly involved in green jobs or green construction activities. Approximately 432,000 construction workers could have increased fall risk from solar or wind power construction, skylights, or atriums; more than 22,000 could be exposed to hazardous materials from weatherization. In addition, about 155,000 cement masons, concrete finishers, and terrazzo workers, and nearly 25,000 insulation workers could be exposed to hazards such as silica, coal ash, or toxic nanomaterials from green building materials. Moreover, as many as 682,000 construction laborers could be exposed to injury hazards (e.g., sprain and “struck-by” hazards) as well as hazardous materials due to increased recycling at construction sites.

Conclusion: Construction workers may be facing new and increased risks attributable to green jobs and green construction. Workers, employers, occupational safety and health professionals, and other construction stakeholders should be aware of worker safety and health in the green economy.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Our objective is to measure the effects of green jobs on construction worker safety and health, and address the importance of worker safety and health during the green economy.

Keywords: Occupational Health, Occupational Surveillance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the director of the Data Center at CPWR - the Center for Construction Research and Training. I have many years of experience in construction safety and health research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.