How can environmental, health and safety (EHS) professionals work to eliminate or reduce risks connected to “greening” efforts? This timely topic is featured in a new "Safety Implications of Greening" white paper released yesterday by the American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE) Hospitality Branch.

"Safety, health and environmental professionals must understand the implications of this increased focus on environmental concerns," said ASSE Hospitality Branch Chair David Natalizia. "Efforts to make an operation more 'green' can also result in improved safety and health for workers involved and for the general public. Greening efforts eliminate or reduce some traditional risks, but may increase existing risks or introduce new ones."

The "Safety Implications of Greening" white paper provides the framework for EHS pros to begin or enhance greening efforts within their organizations. It includes a history of greening in the hospitality industry, key greening issues and their risks and benefits, examples of greening programs in the hospitality industry, and tips for starting a greening program.

In addition to providing an overview of greening activities and successes in the hospitality industry, the white paper also discusses the challenges and EHS risks related to going green along with the unexpected benefits. For example, an airline found that when their food service kitchens recycle, the obvious benefits were reducing pollution and resource management. Yet, they found the secondary benefit from the program was the money saved went into a fund to assist co-workers going through periods of hardship. And with the $100,000 collected in the fund in one city they were able to retain staff who needed support.

The first step is to evaluate your current greening status by looking at key performance indicators such as energy and water use, safety metrics, energy equipment efficiency, construction practices, hazardous chemical use, waste disposal practices, environmental and safety training and legal and regulatory compliance, according to ASSE Hospitality Branch member and white paper author Fay Feeney, CSP, ARM.

Feeney notes that there are challenges. In one effort to go green a company replaced a flammable chemical with a hazardous one for a spray operation. While this reduced the flammability risk, health hazards to workers increased, which required the establishment of an extensive personal protection equipment (PPE) program and ancillary programs.

For more information or a copy of the white paper