Industries that care about preserving the environment we live in are creating an upward trend for employment opportunities in a period in which we really need it. “Green jobs” create a safer environment in which to live and breathe, but whether they are safe for the employees who work in them remains to be seen.
Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys agree that the opportunities are great as long as employers aren’t jeopardizing the health and well-being of the people who work for them in the process.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports that “green jobs”, especially in newer, fast-growing industries, have some safety issues to consider. Not only do employees and employers have to worry about slip and fall or electrical fire injuries — as well as so many other common hazards of employment –but unidentified hazardous waste or chemical exposure can be of particular concern in new manufacturing processes.
For example, Cadmium Telluride, known to cause cancer, can be a danger to someone who works in the solar energy field. A safe environment, proper training, and the necessary safety equipment are as critical in fields involving green technology as they are in more traditional areas of manufacturing. Other green job industries with possible hazards are geo-thermal energy, wind energy, biofuels, hydrogen fuel cells, recycling, green roofs, and weather insulating/sealing.
“Most people instinctively see green jobs as safe. But at OSHA, when we hear weatherization and renovation, we see exposure to lead and asbestos,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor. “When we hear insulation, we think isocyanate exposure. When we hear rooftop solar power, we see fall hazards. When we hear wind energy, we see lockout hazards.”
Michaels adds “It is vital, now, that we integrate worker safety and health concerns into green manufacturing, green construction and green energy. Most importantly, we must push worker health and safety as a critical, necessary, and recognized element of green design, green lifecycle analysis and green contracts.”
OSHA, concerned about both employer and employee safety, outlines the following principles as we move forward in the “green” movement:
-Employees need to be more involved in the work process as well as the creation of green jobs.
-Utilize the REACH program in an effort to gain knowledge about chemicals and the hazards they place on your body. Chemical awareness plays a key role in your safety on the job.
-Engage in “Prevention through Design”, a new concept in which companies design equipment with safety to the employee as the primary focus.
-Inspectors have the responsibility to update standards and create applicable rules when it comes to safety.
-Employees need to be heard when it comes to safer, healthier work environments which includes knowing their rights, the hazards they face, and what is being done to control the hazards.
If you work in Atlanta and you find yourself in the middle of a worker’s compensation or disability claim or are dealing with a work accident, contact the J. Franklin Burns workers’ compensation attorneys at law for assistance. For a free consultation call 404-303-7770.