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AMERICAN SOCIETY OF SAFETY ENGINEERS ADDRESS THE SAFETY IMPLICATIONS OF GREENING IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

Posted in on Fri, Jan 18, 2008

Des Plaines, IL (January 18, 2008) — DES PLAINES, IL (January 18, 2008) – How safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals are working to eliminate or reduce risks connected to ‘greening’ efforts are featured in the new American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Hospitality Branch’s “Safety Implications of Greening” white paper released today.
“Safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals must understand the implications of this increased focus on environmental concerns,” ASSE Hospitality Branch Chair David Natalizia, of Costa Mesa, CA, said today. “Efforts to make an operation more ‘green’ can also result in improved safety and health for workers involved and for the general public. Greening efforts eliminate or reduce some traditional risks, but may increase existing risks or introduce new ones.”
The “Safety Implications of Greening” white paper provides the framework for SH&E professionals to begin or enhance greening efforts within their organizations. It includes a history of greening in the hospitality industry, key greening issues and their risks and benefits, examples of greening programs in the hospitality industry, and tips for starting a greening program.
“Based on our experience in greening, we see success when executive leadership brings together sound financials along with people considerations, their safety and health impact and consequences in greening decisions,” ASSE Hospitality Branch member and white paper author Fay Feeney, CSP, ARM, of Hermosa Beach, CA, said. “Safety, health and environmental professionals have a broad range of capabilities, skills and experience to assist in developing effective and profitable greening programs.”
In addition to providing an overview of greening activities and successes in the hospitality industry, the paper also discusses the challenges and SH&E risks related to going green along with the unexpected benefits. For example, an airline found that when their food service kitchens recycle the obvious benefits were reducing pollution and resource management. Yet, they found the secondary benefit from the program was the money saved went into a fund called “We care” to assist co-workers going through periods of hardship. And with the $100,000 collected in the fund in one city they were able to retain staff who needed support.
The first step is to evaluate your current greening status by looking at key performance indicators such as energy and water use, safety metrics, energy equipment efficiency, construction practices, hazardous chemical use, waste disposal practices, environmental and safety training and legal and regulatory compliance,” Feeney noted.
Feeney notes that there are challenges. In one effort to go green a company replaced a flammable chemical with a hazardous one for a spray operation. This did reduce the flammability risk, yet health hazards to workers increased requiring the establishment of extensive personal protection equipment (PPE) program and ancillary programs.
In putting this paper together, members of the ASSE Hospitality Branch and the Environmental and Healthcare Practice Specialties provided greening success stories and customer responses. For instance, one hotel chain reported that 40 percent of its corporate clients ask about environmental issues in their requests for proposals for corporate rates and another report found that 43 million travelers say they prefer to do business with companies that share their concern about the environment. As for tangible results, a hotel in Philadelphia’s installment of compact fluorescent lights saved 78 percent in energy costs with a payback in two years and a hotel in California saved approximately $2500 per month by changing 4,400 incandescent light bulbs which resulted in a savings of $61,000 a year in electricity costs equaling 203,000 kilowatt hours and 300,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
From housekeeping to heat, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to indoor air quality and maintenance, there are many ways to begin a greening program and sustain one.
“The white paper also includes information on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Top Green Power Purchasers” list, which highlights organizations committed to purchasing green power. The EPA defines environmental stewardship as “an ethic of respect” for the inherent values of healthy natural systems and as a practice that sustains those benefits for current and future generations.”
Another source the hospitality industry works with is the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) which has the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System. LEED was designed collaboratively for new construction of commercial buildings and now includes major renovations, existing building operations and maintenance systems.
ASSE and its members continue to work with their employers and communities on “going green” along with addressing and finding solutions for SH&E issues connected with those efforts. The “Safety Implications of Greening” white paper is another resource they can use.
Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 31,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor and education. For more information a copy of the white paper please go to http://www.asse.org/practicespecialties/hospitality/docs/HospitalityNewsletter1-15-08.pdf or www.asse.org.



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