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Health & Safety in the ‘Green’ Sphere

The increasing attention on renewable energy sources, sustainable business solutions, environmentally friendly activities and clean waste initiatives has a positive impact on the global environment. However, without appropriate action, management and teamwork in the area of safety, this trend could cost workers their health and well-being.

Creating and maintaining a safe working environment is a global societal goal. In turn, given the humanitarian and commercial benefits of the sustainability sector as a whole, health and safety is likely to emerge as a hot topic worldwide for organizations working within this green arena. A safe and healthy work place and the protection of the general environment go hand in hand.

At their most basic level, sustainability and safety are essentially about conserving and protecting resources. In the case of sustainability, these are typically natural resources. In the case of safety, the resources are human. Due to this common goal it is seemingly even more important to ensure high safety standards within the new and growing green industries.

Green technologies, products and processes need to be evaluated for worker safety and health just like any other occupation, product or practice. Such evaluation can identify work-related hazards that can then be prevented or controlled. Conversely, it can also help identify those green practices, products and technologies that could improve worker safety and health.

Job roles which combine health, safety and environmental responsibility have been around for some time and come labelled with a variety of acronyms: HSE, SHE, QHSE, EHS. They are a perfect example of the close relationship between environment, health and safety and my company’s Health & Safety Recruitment Group has seen a steady increase in these HSE positions across corporate business, manufacturing, construction and more recently renewable energy.

RenewableUK (formerly the BWEA – British Wind Energy Association) has done a great job of raising the profile of health and safety within the UK Wind industry. Working in partnership with lead organizations and key stakeholders, including the HSE and Crown Estate, they actively communicate on health and safety matters, publish best practice guidance, recommend training and hold an annual Health and Safety Renewables conference, which is an indication of the importance of health and safety within renewable energy and the growing number of job opportunities available in this sector. The main growth area is offshore wind and in such a high risk environment it is essential that the correct safety procedures are put in place.

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