Green energy workers are on a mission -- they’re not just trying to power the planet, they’re trying to protect the earth. But, as we’ve seen so often, saving the world can be, and often is, a very dangerous job.
In addition to facing many of the same obstacles as the traditional energy industry, those who work in and around renewable energy sources face new challenges, some of which aren’t even fully understood. This article will take a look at some of those dangers. But, more importantly, it will examine how to create a safer work environment regardless of what you’re working on, in, or with, all by leveraging the power of Safegagement™.
The Risks of Green Energy Jobs
As we mentioned earlier, employees in the Green Energy industry face many of the same threats as workers in traditional energy markets. These include, in part:
- Falls from great heights
- The dangers of confined spaces
- Electrocution and shocks
- Exposure to hazardous materials
- Indoor, Outdoor and Vehicular Fires
It’s important to note that these hazards may be new for many workers in the green energy sector. Making matters even more dangerous, OSHA® warns that Green Energy workers may be exposed to new hazards that haven’t yet been identified/regulated. Take, for example, Cadmium Telluride which has been found throughout the solar energy industry. If adequate controls and processes are not put in place, exposure can prove deadly to workers.
Although the Green Energy industry is wide-ranging, our article today will take a look at three specific sectors: Biofuels, Solar Energy, and Wind Energy.
Dangers of Biofuels:
- Biofuels generally refer to two types of fuels within the United States, Ethanol and Biodiesel -- both are incredibly flammable
- In addition to being highly flammable, a number of chemical reactions can occur if not handled properly. This can lead to the rupture of equipment and piping, explosions, fires, and exposures to hazardous chemicals
- Biofuels, as well as the chemicals that make them up, contain many toxic exposure hazards
Notable Injuries/Fatalities Involving Biofuels
- Two employees were burned when ethanol vapors escaped an absorption column 1
- An employee was killed when his power tools ignited methanol vapors 2
** Note: Although there are mixed feelings when it comes to how biofuels should be classified, OSHA® officially recognizes biofuels as renewable, which is why it makes our list.
Dangers of Solar Energy
- Solar energy workers are exposed to heat and cold stress that can create major problems
- The threat of thermal burns is severe, and has been shown to result in injuries and death
- Without proper training/safety protocols in place, arc flashes – including burns and blasts – can occur.
Notable Injuries/Fatalities Involving Solar Energy
- A solar panel worker failed to wear a safety harness and plummeted to his death 3
Dangers of Wind Energy
- Workers can become trapped in twisting machinery
- Workers can asphyxiate inside turbine enclosures
- Workers can inhale harmful gasses and vapors when buffing and resurfacing blades
Notable Injuries/Fatalities Involving Wind Energy
- A worker lost his life after an arc-flash erupted when he was in the power cabinet of a wind turbine 4
- A worker lost his life after he failed to attach safety lanyards and subsequently fell nearly 100 feet 5
Creating a Safer Work Environment via Safegagement™
The Green & Renewable Energy market is a critical one. It supplies us with much needed energy while also protecting our environment. However, it doesn’t come without risks to workers.
To help reduce injuries and save lives, Green Energy companies must embrace Safegagement™. But, what does that mean?
In short, it’s exactly as it sounds – a focus on both Safety and Engagement. It may seem like a subtle difference, but the impact is far greater than focusing on safety alone. Safegagement™ adds the element of engagement, and this creates connectivity and ownership at every level of the organization. We help companies achieve this by creating customized OSHA® compliant safety incentive solutions that focus on leading – not lagging – indicators.
When this occurs, everyone wins – from workers to shareholders! The following are just a few ways companies can benefit when their workforce is highly-engaged:
- 41% lower absenteeism
- 70% fewer employee safety incidents
- 40% fewer quality incidents (defects)
- 17% higher productivity
- 21% higher profitability
If you’re interested in learning more about how Safegagement™ can help make your company a safer place, you should check out our free White Paper, Safegagement: Creating Companies That Thrive. And, if you’re really looking to jumpstart your Safegagement™ efforts, we hope you consider working with C.A. Short Company. We have nearly a century of experience in the employee engagement and recognition industry, and we’d love to show you what we can do for your company!
C.A. Short Company partners with companies to manage, drive and facilitate increased employee engagement to increase financial performance, productivity, quality, and core performance outcomes. Our process and research-based platform enables executives and managers to engage their teams to increase the bottom line, motivate staff, and incentivize positive behavior. To Request a Complimentary Consultation, click here.