Environmental Protection and the Protection of Those Preserving Tomorrow

Dan Matthews, Author

Many of us are concerned about the environment and our impact on the planet but, fortunately, there is a bright future ahead. People are more interested in sustainability than ever before and as technology evolves, we see more companies using new forms of green energy to make their products.

However, while these changes are helping the environment, the workers that bring these solutions to reality must still be cautious of new hazards that are  dangerous if not handled appropriately. 

Clean Energy is the Future

Many years ago, we wouldn’t even be talking about changing our manufacturing processes, but as the world evolves, more people are witnessing our negative environmental impact and are demanding change. Many companies are jumping on board as they look for new forms of sustainable and renewable energy that will produce clean power and the same high-quality products without the harmful side effects.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, these clean industries are growing by leaps and bounds. Currently, 2.2 million workers are performing energy-efficient jobs, and the renewable energy sector has brought on almost one million workers over the last couple of years. These positive changes will mean great things for our environment, but hard work is necessary to bring them to life and employee safety is key.

Employee safety should always be at the forefront of management’s minds as safe and happy workers are more eager  to show up to work and are often more productive because of it. However, the typical safety mindset must be shifted as new dangers become apparent. 

New Employee Dangers

One example of a new danger is the generation of biofuels which produce lower carbon emissions than fossil fuels. While the result is great, the creation of biofuels often involves dangerous substances like gasoline and numerous acids, which can be dangerous when they are touched or inhaled. To stay safe, workers must always use protective gear, including gloves and safety goggles, that management should provide.

Solar energy is a very popular form of alternative energy that has many families excited as they place solar panels on their homes. However, solar installers and other employees who regularly work with the energy can be subject to thermal burns, electrical shock, and potential falls from the top of high buildings. This is another circumstance in which  protective gear is essential in addition to adequate training before anyone does the job.

Even folks working in recycling jobs face their share of challenges, especially when it comes to recycling items from construction sites which can include anything from hazardous materials to dangerous machinery with moving parts. Employees must work with extreme caution to avoid harm and use protective gear to stay protected. Of course, renewable energy jobs will also require safety protocols against common threats that impact any industry, including slips, trips, and falls.

Employer Responsibility

It should be stated that it is not all doom and gloom when it comes to renewable materials. In fact, it can be argued that sustainable practices may actually increase worker safety by using materials that are overall cleaner and less toxic, making them less dangerous if inhaled. Also, many of these processes use automation that keeps the worker less involved in the actual process and out of harm’s way.

Even if that is the case, it is still the responsibility of management to ensure the safest work environment possible. Keeping employees safe is the right thing to do, especially in this changing world with a complicated healthcare system and physician shortages that require an employee to wait longer to get the help they need. When employees are not working, they can’t get paid and provide for their families, and companies lose valuable productivity. 

If you are an employee who feels that your company does not have your best interest at heart, then it is your right  to make your concerns known. Talk to management and tell them what bothers you and what needs to change. If your concerns fall on deaf ears, then you may need to take legal action or file a workers compensation claim. Remember that you are not telling on anyone, but instead, you are doing what is right to protect yourself and your coworkers, and you cannot be discriminated against for your actions.
In the end, it is a great thing that our world is turning towards renewable energy and sustainable practices. By protecting the workers that are helping our planet, everyone’s a winner in the end.

This blog is printed with permission.

About the author: Dan Matthews is a writer, content consultant, and conservationist. While Dan writes on a variety of topics, he loves to focus on the topics that look inward on mankind that help to make the surrounding world a better place to reside. When Dan isn’t working on new content, you can find him with a coffee cup in one hand and searching for new music in the other.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.