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Green, Safe and Healthy Jobs

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Green Jobs Spotlights

Green, Safe and Healthy Jobs


There benefits as well as challenges of moving to a green economy. Green jobs are being defined broadly as jobs that help to improve the environment. These jobs also create opportunities to help revitalize the economy and get people back to work. Yet, with the heightened attention on green jobs and environmental sustainability, it is important to make sure that worker safety and health are not overlooked. As part of the Prevention through Design (PtD) initiative, NIOSH and its partners are developing a framework to create awareness, provide guidance, and address occupational safety and health issues associated with green jobs and sustainability efforts. Keep checking back to this page for updates.


Green Jobs Occupational Hazards Chart

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) , passed in early 2009, makes new investments in our Nation’s future. This includes creating jobs to deliver on those investments in industries such as energy, utilities, construction, and manufacturing, as well as job training. The new focus, coupled with the move in America towards energy efficiency and more environmentally-friendly practices, is resulting in changes to traditional jobs and the creation of new kinds of occupations. As we make technological advances in industry, we need to remain vigilant in protecting workers against emerging hazards. As traditional jobs evolve to meet new challenges, workers may be faced with known risks that had not previously affected their occupation. These changes may also present us with the opportunity to eliminate hazards through planning, organization, and engineering – a concept known at NIOSH as Prevention through Design (PtD). The framework matrix below illustrates how our knowledge about old and new hazards intersects with challenges created by new technologies and adaptations of work activities to perform green jobs.

For the product of work to be truly sustainable, the work itself must also be sustainable. It must protect not only the surrounding environment and its end-users, but also the workers who are producing it. Sustainability must include worker safety and green jobs must be safe jobs. As the Nation moves towards sustainability and acts quickly to train workers for new occupations and new ways of working, we have unprecedented opportunities:

  • to enhance the safety and health protection of the American workforce
  • to expand and apply our knowledge in occupational safety and health to new workplaces, processes, and products being formed each day
  • to ensure the training and re-training of the workforce that will fill these new jobs includes relevant safety and health information.