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New Research Reveals the Safety Hazards of Green Building

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Identified Risk: A higher risk of falls and overexertion occurs from increased ladder time maintaining ductwork.

Suggested Mitigation: Using different materials for the prefabricated “caps” on the ends of the duct, such as a universal magnetic cap, may make installation less awkward and therefore quicker and easier. Also suggested was the off-site fabrication of ductwork for longer sections to decrease time spent on the ladder.

LEED Credit: Low-Emitting Materials—Adhesives/Sealants

Identified Risk: Oftentimes, “rework” is needed due to the lower quality low-emitting adhesives and sealants used. The added time spent at heights, performing overhead work and exposure to construction dust creates a heightened risk for workers.

Suggested Mitigation: Designers and contractors could work together to find available products that meet Rule #1168 while also standing up to expected temperatures and compatibility to other construction materials used. This would eliminate the need for added “rework.”

LEED Credit: Indoor Chemical and Pollutant Source Control

Identified Risk: Workers have a heightened risk to fall hazards due to overhead work and working at heights during piping and ductwork installation.

Suggested Mitigation: Designers could install HVAC systems under the floor so they’re easier to install and maintain.

LEED Credit: Controllability of Systems—Lighting

Identified Risk: Complex wiring associated with occupancy sensors and timing controls increase risk of electrical shock to workers. Additional time spent wiring these systems at heights increases the risk of falls.

Suggested Mitigation: Some elements of the systems could potentially be prefabricated, decreasing time spent working with the wires onsite. Designers might locate sensors at reachable heights rather than on ceilings to eliminate time spent of ladders.

LEED Credit: Daylight and Views: Daylight 75% of Spaces

Identified Risk:  Large skylights, windows or atriums increase time spent working near large, exposed openings at great heights.

Suggested Mitigation: Designers could create a courtyard to meet the requirements or minimize the depth of the building as an alternative to atriums and skylights. If these elements are included, additional precautions could be taken, such as blocking off areas below overhead work, using equipment such as man lifts and scissor lifts when possible and using tie-offs and barriers near exposed openings.

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