Green Jobs bring promise, risk of new work injuries in North Carolina

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is focusing on safety in the budding new industries that comprise what many think of as “Green Jobs.”

Like tech jobs and medical jobs, North and South Carolina are battling alongside virtually every state in the nation to lure the so-called “Green Jobs.” These include industries involved in wind energy, solar, geo-thermal energy, biofuels, recycling, green roofs, hydrogen fuel cells, weather insulating and other related industries. Industries involving new technologies can be risky for employees, who are often exposed to manufacturing processes with no history of the possible health or safety risks. For instance, employees in the solar energy industry may be exposed to Cadmium Telluride, a known cancer causing agent. In such cases, it is critical that the manufacturing process provide adequate safeguards.
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“We’re all aware of the job opportunities that green jobs offer, and in the present economy, new technologies with the potential of new jobs are especially welcome,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor. “We must use our knowledge and skills to identify potential hazards as they emerge. It is vital, now, that we integrate worker safety and health concerns into green manufacturing.”

Many of these jobs are essentially energy jobs, which have a long history involving the risk of serious work injury in North Carolina. Utility workers, natural gas employees, electric workers, and workers at nuclear power plants often suffer injuries at greater rates than those in many other professions.

OSHA defines green jobs as jobs that help improve the environment. Such jobs also have the ability to help rejuvenate the economy and get people back to work. Employees in these positions may also face hazards common to many industries — including workplace falls, electrical or fire injuries, chemical exposure and other hazards.

The government is urging companies to engage in “Prevention through Design,” which simply means to design equipment and the manufacturing process with the safety of employees in mind.

If you are dealing with a work accident in North Carolina or are dealing with a worker’s compensation or disability claim, contact the Law Offices of Lee & Smith today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 800-887-1965. Serving all of North and South Carolina, including Albemarle, Burlington and Concord.

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