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Prevention through Design Tools Can Reduce Injuries on Sustainable Building Construction Sites

Posted in on Mon, Jun 3, 2013

June ASSE Professional Safety journal article examines the increased hazards in the construction of sustainable buildings, and tools to mitigate the risks early in a project’s development

With sustainable building becoming a trend in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, a growing number of jobsite hazards associated with their design elements have been identified, according to Sustainable Buildings – Applying Prevention Through Design, a peer-reviewed feature in the June issue of the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) journal, Professional Safety.

The most recognized sustainable building initiative is the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a certification that evaluates the potential environmental performance of a building over its life cycle. However, research has found that LEED-certified projects incur higher OSHA recordable injury rates than conventional construction projects due to widely used design elements and construction practices employed to attain LEED certification.

When it comes to sustainable building’s the construction industry’s current perspective has focused on resource efficiency in terms of positive environmental impact, reduction of utility costs and the health of its final occupants.

The articles’ authors Mohammed Albattah, Marielle Roucheray and Matthew Hallowell, Ph.D., state that sustainability should incorporate the effects of a building throughout its entire life cycle. This includes the health and safety of workers on the construction site.

Prevention through design (PTD) is a deliberate consideration of construction worker safety and health in the design of a building, by removing safety during design by altering a building’s features so they are safer to construct and maintain. Studies have shown that PTD can be particularly effective in the construction of sustainable buildings.

In advocating for PTD in sustainable buildings, the article describes; recent research identifying specific exposures to hazards connected to sustainable building components, the magnitudes of their impacts and the methods of risk mitigation, a web-based tool that organizes PTD information into a single decision support system and the results of pilot testing this tool on active projects with experienced professionals.

 

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For more than 50 years, ASSE’s Professional Safety journal has been sharing the latest technical knowledge in SH&E—information that is constantly being developed through research and on-the-job experience. Each issue delivers practical guidance, techniques and solutions to help SH&E professionals identify hazards, protect people, prevent injuries, improve work environments and educate management that investing in safety is a sound business strategy. For more information please visit http://www.asse.org/professionalsafety.

Founded in 1911, the Chicago-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 35,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education. For more information please go to www.asse.org.



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