Hazards associated with green jobs
‘Green jobs’ are a relatively new description of opportunities that focus on environmentally friendly work activities. As the requirement to balance economic growth and environmental protection becomes more…, the number and scope of these jobs expands. As the sector develops and opportunities increase, so do the number of new risks associated with the activities. It’s important that as the green economy continues to grow, that green jobs are safe for workers as well as the environment.
What are green jobs?
According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, green jobs can be defined as ‘contributing, in some way, to the preservation or restoration of the environment’. The green economy is diverse, spanning a multitude of sectors, skills and specialisations. These types of jobs can include activities that help to protect ecosystems and biodiversity, reducing the consumption of energy and raw materials, or reducing waste and pollution (Source).
Health and safety implications
While green jobs have numerous benefits for the environment and society, they may still come with some health and safety risks – the word ‘green’ does not necessarily mean ‘safe’ for workers who are employed in these jobs. As such, it’s important that proper consideration and assessment is undertaken within all workplaces.
The types of (potential) risks associated with these emerging industries can be broadly defined as follows:
1. Traditional Risks
People working in green industries can face health and safety hazards that are commonly associated and recognised in more ‘traditional’ workplaces:
- Slips, trips and falls
- Working in confined spaces
- Working with heavy or dangerous machinery
- Working with electrical currents
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Air Quality
- Extreme Weather Conditions
- Ergonomic Hazards
- Psychosocial Hazards
- Noise Levels
- Fire Safety
- will be a common risk in all spaces. IN addition to this, workers may be required to work in confined spaces, with electrical equipment or heavy machinery, and there could also be fire or chemical risks.
2. New Risks
Besides the ‘traditional’ work-related risks, green workers could be exposed to new and emerging risks that may be associated with new technologies, processes, workforces and indeed substances or agents.
In rapidly evolving green industries, workers and employers may face challenges related to inadequate training and knowledge gaps concerning new technologies and practices, increasing the likelihood of accidents and mistakes.
To ensure the success of green jobs while minimising health and safety risks, it is essential for employers and regulators to implement proper training programs, enforce safety protocols, conduct risk assessments, and provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). A new combination of skills will be required to negate these risks (source). Continuous monitoring and improvement of workplace safety practices will contribute to a safer environment for those engaged in green jobs.
At Ayrton, our consultancy team has considerable experience in the assessment and management of hazards across all types of workplaces and are continually upskilling to provide best-in-class service. Contact us here to find out more.