Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Study: Some LEED Requirements Could Pose Risks to Construction Workers

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Study: Some LEED Requirements Could Pose Risks to Construction Workers

By Tammie C. Alexander

A study by the Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering Department at the University of Colorado Boulder (UCB) has found that some of the requirements for LEED building certification may pose heightened risks to the safety of construction workers. 

The UCB analysis began after a study by the U.S. Green Building Council found a near fifty percent injury rate in LEED-certified projects over traditional construction.  The UCB team sought to break down the study credit by credit to find the ones that could cause greatest harm.  The study identified fourteen LEED credentials that may increase risk. 

They include:

  • Installing sustainable roofing
  • Installing PV panels for on-site renewable energy
  • Additional risk of cuts, abrasions and lacerations from construction waste management
  • Risk of falls from installing skylights and atriums to meet the daylight and views credit

In completing the analysis, student researchers conducted interviews at construction sites and compiled information from job hazard analyses and hazard reports. 

UCB plans to release a follow-up later this month that defines ways to mitigate the increased risks. 

In light of these findings, contractors should consider implementing improvements in their building processes.  For example, it may be the perfect time to update your safety manual and to train safety managers on effective ways to enforce it.  It may also be an ideal time to ensure that your workers' compensation program and other insurance policies provide adequate coverage for these increased risks.  These are just a few examples of ways that Steptoe & Johnson's Construction Team can assist you in mitigating the unique risks inherent in today's construction industry. 

Should you have a question about this or any other construction matter, please contact a member of the Steptoe & Johnson Construction Law Team.


Source: The Architectural Record
Author's note: While this is a single study with limited data collection, it has received attention from the USGBC and provides a starting point for discussing these important safety issues.

© 2012 Steptoe & Johnson PLLC  All Rights Reserved

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