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Study: Green Construction Projects Have Higher Injury Rates

Source: Daily Camera (Boulder, CO), December 20, 2011
Posted on: http://enr.construction.com

A new study led by a University of Colorado engineering professor shows that green construction poses more dangers than traditional projects — partly because workers are more likely to be cut on recycled construction materials or fall while installing solar panels.
Matthew R. Hallowell, an assistant professor in CU’s department of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, led the study, which reviewed construction projects built to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification.
His team’s study revealed that LEED-certified buildings have a perceived 9 percent higher injury rate than non-LEED buildings.
Hallowell said that builders, while trying to achieve environmental sustainability, also need to consider the safety of workers.
The study, “Identification of Safety Risks for High Performance Sustainable Construction Projects,” appeared in the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management.
The findings show a perceived 36 percent increase in cuts, strains and sprains from recycling construction materials.
Hallowell said his research team found that one project tackled that problem by contracting with a waste management company to sort commingled material — preventing on-site workers from digging through recycling bins, exposing themselves to glass and other dangerous objects.
There is also a perceived 19 percent increase in eye strain when installing reflective roof membranes.
Also involved with the study were former CU graduate students Katherine Dewlaney and Bernard Fortunato III, as well as Michael Behm from East Carolina University.

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