Workplace Safety and Health Profiles of Occupations with Green Technology Jobs: BLS Data Can Measure Injuries and Illnesses within Occupations That Contain Green Jobs; among the 10 Largest Such Occupations, Laborers and Hand Movers of Freight, Stock, and Material Had Both the Highest Count and Rate of Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away from Work

By Parrott, Aaron; Wiatrowski, William | Monthly Labor Review, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Workplace Safety and Health Profiles of Occupations with Green Technology Jobs: BLS Data Can Measure Injuries and Illnesses within Occupations That Contain Green Jobs; among the 10 Largest Such Occupations, Laborers and Hand Movers of Freight, Stock, and Material Had Both the Highest Count and Rate of Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away from Work


Parrott, Aaron, Wiatrowski, William, Monthly Labor Review


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has approached the challenge of identifying green jobs from two perspectives: the output approach (which identifies establishments that produce green goods and services and counts the associated jobs) and the process approach (which identifies establishments that use environmentally friendly production processes and practices and counts the associated jobs). (1) Data from these efforts provide information on "green" employment and wages by industry and occupation. Although there may be interest in the prevalence and types of workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities of workers with green jobs, the two BLS surveys that identify green jobs do not directly collect these details, and the BLS survey on workplace safety and health does not currently identify green jobs. However, BLS workplace safety and health data use the same industry and occupation classification systems used in the green jobs studies. Thus, we can examine industries or occupations that contain green jobs to determine the prevalence and details of workplace injuries for all jobs in those industries and occupations; the data cannot be separated, however, into green and non-green jobs.

This analysis focuses on occupations identified in the BLS Green Technologies and Practices (GTP) survey, which uses the process approach to identifying green jobs. (2) In the GTP survey, BLS identified establishments that use green technologies and practices and, within those establishments, the occupations of workers who spend more than half their time involved in such technologies and practices. Workers were considered to be involved in green technologies and practices if they were doing either of the following:

* Researching, developing, maintaining, using, or installing technologies or practices to lessen the environmental impact of their establishment

* Training the establishment's workers in these green technologies and practices

The survey identified about 854,700 workers employed in GTP jobs in 2011, approximately 0.7 percent of total U.S. wage and salary employment. (3) More than one-quarter of all GTP jobs were in the building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupational group or in the installation, maintenance, and repair occupational group. The transportation and material moving; production; and construction and extraction occupational groups made up an additional 23 percent of GTP employment. Detailed occupations with the largest number of GTP jobs included janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners, with 56,700 GTP jobs; heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers (37,300); and general maintenance and repair workers (26,000). The 10 detailed occupations with the largest number of GTP jobs are identified in chart 1 and are discussed within this article in size order.

The BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) provides information on workplace injuries and illnesses involving days away from work for each of these 10 occupations, as well as for hundreds more. The information available includes worker characteristics and circumstances that describe the injury or illness. In addition, the BLS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) provides information on those who are fatally injured on the job; again, data include information about the worker and about the fatal incident. What follows is an occupational safety and health profile of the 10 detailed occupations with the largest number of GTP jobs. The information presented is for private sector workers, who make up the majority of workers for each of these occupations. (4) Some comparisons are made to data for total private industry wage and salary employees, hence-forth referred to as "total workers." No effort is made to provide a broader view of workplace safety and health for all green jobs or to compare worker safety among green versus nongreen jobs. As noted earlier, BLS occupational safety and health data are not currently designed to provide such information. …

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Workplace Safety and Health Profiles of Occupations with Green Technology Jobs: BLS Data Can Measure Injuries and Illnesses within Occupations That Contain Green Jobs; among the 10 Largest Such Occupations, Laborers and Hand Movers of Freight, Stock, and Material Had Both the Highest Count and Rate of Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away from Work
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