A troubling report has been injected into the “feel good” aura of LEED construction. Matthew Hallowell, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, has confirmed via research and study that LEED projects carry an increased risk of worker injury. The study was reported last week in ENR Mountain States, and comes with detailed reports on the nature of the increased risks. Even a representative of the USGBC admits that the study is troubling.
The study was prepared by the Colorado Construction Safety Laboratory. It has been published in the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, entitled "Safety Risk Quantification for High Performance Sustainable Building Construction," and is available (for purchase) here. An abstract is available to the public.
Most of the risks are associated with falls occurring when workers are dealing with unfamiliar materials or situations. In short, the quest for LEED credits often results in use of unfamiliar materials, components or sequences. And now contractors must be concerned about the increased risk to worker safety as a result. Look for more focus on insurance and indemnity costs on LEED projects as the insurance industry wakes up to changes in personal injury risk.