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Are green building features safe for preventive maintenance workers? Examining the evidence

Authors

  • Mohamed Shamun Omar ScD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, School of Health and Environment, Lowell, Massachusetts,
    • Manager, Environmental Protection, Department of Health, Safety & Environment, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, CSOB Building, Room No. 206, Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia.
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  • Margaret M. Quinn ScD,

    1. Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, School of Health and Environment, Lowell, Massachusetts,
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  • Bryan Buchholz PhD,

    1. Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, School of Health and Environment, Lowell, Massachusetts,
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  • Ken Geiser PhD

    1. Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, School of Health and Environment, Lowell, Massachusetts,
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  • Disclosure Statement: The authors report no conflicts of interests.

Abstract

Background

Many newly constructed green buildings (GB) are certified using the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for new construction and major renovation which focuses on architectural and mechanical design to conserve energy, reduce environmental harm, and enhance indoor quality for occupants. This study evaluated the preventive maintenance (PM) worker occupational safety and health (OSH) risks related to the design of GB.

Methods

PM job hazard analyses (JHA) were performed on the tasks required to operate and maintain five GB features selected from 13 LEED certified GB. A 22-item JHA and OSH risk scoring system were developed.

Results

Potentially serious OSH hazards included: green roofs made of slippery material without fall protection; energy recovery wheels and storm water harvesting systems in confined spaces; skylights without guard rails; and tight geothermal well mechanical rooms constraining safe preventive practices.

Conclusions

GB can present PM OSH risks and these should be eliminated in the building design phase. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:410–423, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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