5 Ways Energy Efficiency Boosts Worker Safety
by Jane Marsh
Worker safety is a critical aspect of any company or organization. Those who work with fossil fuels such as coal and oil are at risk of developing severe health problems such as cancer. In addition, fuel manufacturing and construction accidents often have devastating consequences.
Becoming energy efficient has many benefits, the most important being that it reduces carbon emissions and is better for the environment. However, being energy efficient can also help keep workers safe. Here are five ways energy efficiency boosts worker safety.
Reduces Harmful Long-Term Effects
While construction workers often face immediate risks while on the job, there are also long-term effects of handling construction equipment that can lead to health problems as they age. The loud sounds and vibrations produced by equipment can damage workers’ hearing and cause joint pain. Such effects will become more severe the longer workers are exposed to them.
Because of this and out of concern for the environment, manufacturing, and construction businesses are pushing to develop electric construction equipment and vehicles. Electric tools are generally quieter and produce fewer vibrations than their conventional counterparts, reducing these long-term health risks. Doing so can help more workers stay in the field longer and prevent injuries that require time off, all while offering environmental benefits.
Lowers the Risk of Injury
Electric-powered equipment and vehicles also have fewer moving parts, which means fewer chances for a malfunction. Conventional vehicles used in the manufacturing and construction sectors typically use gas engines that require constant maintenance. If these maintenance needs are not met, workplace accidents are more likely.
The engines of electric vehicles need less maintenance because electric energy does not produce chemicals that can damage the inner workings of the vehicle. There is no need for oil or gas — fewer parts means fewer repairs and replacements.
Not only does this allow companies to save money on maintenance, but it also reduces the number of potential accidents equipment and vehicle malfunctions can cause. Battery-powered equipment is also generally easier to handle than conventional equipment, although workers who have not used it before may need additional training.
Limits Exposure to Harmful Vapors
Electric equipment is also less volatile than gas-powered equipment and emits less harmful vapors, which could have immediate and long-term damaging effects. It’s no secret that conventional vehicles produce carbon dioxide and other hazardous gasses as a result of using gasoline power. If this gas is produced in an area that is not correctly ventilated — or people are working in close proximity to the source — workers are at risk of poisoning.
Using electric vehicles and tools can limit the risk of exposure to such harmful gasses and chemicals since they produce no harmful emissions. It also cuts down on air pollution, which has disastrous effects on health in the long term.
Eliminates the Potential for Destructive Accidents
One of the most significant safety concerns in the energy industry is the potential for chemical hazards. People working on oil and gas extraction rigs are especially at risk — the dangers of accidental fires and explosions are a genuine threat. Such events often produce casualties and have lasting effects on workers and the land around them.
In contrast, working in the renewable energy sector provides new, generally safer job opportunities. While renewable energy is not without its hazards, there is less potential for an accident that could cause massive loss of life and damage the environment. In addition, as interest in renewable energy grows, more positions will be created in this industry, ensuring job security.
Reduces Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals
Another primary concern for workers in the industrial and energy sectors is the amount of exposure to hazardous chemicals. Chemicals such as benzene are a byproduct of oil and gas production and have significant health risks. For instance, workers exposed to large amounts of benzene are at risk of bone marrow damage, developing anemia, and a weakened immune system.
In addition, coal mines use the chemicals arsenic, mercury, and selenium to process mined coal.
People who work with these chemicals can face adverse health effects ranging from lethal poisoning to developing cancer in the long term.
Switching to more energy-efficient methods — such as renewable energy — can limit or eliminate the need for harmful chemicals. Energy sources that run entirely on electricity don’t produce toxic chemicals and use such chemicals very little in their processes. Not only does this keep workers healthy, it also reduces the chances of potential legal ramifications.
Energy Efficiency Keeps Workers Safe
The safety of its workers should be a top priority for any industry. Whether it is construction, industrial, or energy production, adopting more energy-efficient processes has many benefits. Not only are workers safer, they become happier and more productive knowing their employer is looking out for their safety.
Article by Jane Marsh
Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of