Monday, March 16, 2015

Green Building Industry to Credit Prevention Through Design

OSH professionals have heard a lot about prevention through design (PTD) over the years, and NIOSH's national emphasis on the topic has given it even greater visibility. The construction industry is also getting on board. In February, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) posted a new pilot “Prevention through Design” credit to its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Pilot Credit Library.

The pilot credit grew out of efforts motivated by a National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Construction goal to increase PTD use by integrating safety and health into green rating systems. NIOSH initiated a partnership with USGBC to build a relationship and to explore the connection between occupational safety and health and sustainable building practices.

According to NIOSH, the PTD pilot credit will help reduce illnesses and injuries by supporting high-performance, cost-effective employee safety and health outcomes across the building life cycle. The pilot credit addresses two building life cycle phases important for safety and health: 1) operations and maintenance (O&M); and 2) construction.

For O&M, the pilot credit promotes a cross-disciplinary safety design review. It provides a list of systems to consider, such as roofs and equipment rooms. "Examples of safety design review outcomes include decisions to reduce fall hazards by installing a parapet wall or a guard rail on a roof, or by specifying non-fragile glass for skylights," NIOSH explains.

For construction, the pilot credit describes a cross-disciplinary safety constructability review. It provides a list of topics to guide the review, such as building re-use and work at height. "Examples of safety constructability review outcomes could include a decision to use steel columns that arrive on site with pre-drilled holes for insertion of fall protection lines that would facilitate temporary fall protection for construction workers; or a decision to pre-fabricate components at ground-level to minimize falls from working at height," NIOSH reports.

NIOSH is working with USGBC to develop webinars on the credit. The agency is also interested in hearing from users in the field--everything from useful experiences and success stories to new developments or other input. You can contact NIOSH's Scott Earnest with your information. 

ASSE has a wide selection of technical PTD articles posted online. The Society is also secretariat for ANSI/ASSE Z590.3-2011, Prevention through Design Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Hazards and Risks in Design and Redesign Processes. You will also find additional resources in the PS article archive (members only) and ASSE's Body of Knowledge asset tool.