NIOSH Leader Touts PtD Pilot Credit

The NIOSH Construction Program worked with the U.S. Green Building Council to develop it in order to explore the connection between occupational safety and health and sustainable building practices.

Writing on the NIOSH Science Blog, a leader from the agency -- Christine Branche, principal associate director and also director of the Office of Construction Safety and Health -- on July 31 touted the value of the Prevention through Design (PtD) Pilot Credit now available in the US Green Building Council's LEED© (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system. Writing with Heather Langford, who worked with NIOSH on the credit and educational components while a director in the LEED department at USGBC, and Matt Gillen, a retired NIOSH employee who has worked with NIOSH and USGBC on the development of the pilot credit and webinars, Branche called it an important opportunity to apply Prevention through Design, a concept NIOSH launched a decade ago, to construction projects.

The NIOSH Construction Program worked with USGBC to develop it in order to explore the connection between occupational safety and health and sustainable building practices.

The aim of PtD is to eliminate or minimize hazards during the design phase of a project. USGBC tests new and innovative concepts through pilot credits, which can be found in the LEED Pilot Credit Library, and the credits include a pathway for the credit to evolve based on feedback from project teams that implement the criteria laid out in the pilot credit, they wrote.

The credit is available through the USGBC site or from this NIOSH page. "The aim of the pilot credit is to reduce illnesses and injuries by supporting high-performance, cost-effective employee safety and health outcomes across the building life cycle by designing structures that reduce or eliminate potential safety and health hazards. The credit addresses two building lifecycle phases important for safety and health: (1) Operations and Maintenance (O&M), and (2) Construction," they explain. "Based on advice from USGBC, the credit is structured to parallel and complement the existing LEED Integrative Process credit. A discovery step evaluates opportunities before moving forward, followed by an implementation step to provide appropriate solutions. The safety design and safety constructability reviews should take place before completion of the schematic design."

They write that it promotes a cross-disciplinary "safety design review" and provides a list of systems to consider, such as roofs and equipment rooms, citing as examples of safety design review the decisions to reduce fall hazards by installing a parapet wall or a guardrail on a roof, or by specifying non-fragile glass for skylights.

It is the 93rd pilot credit added to the Pilot Credit Library. Two webinars that describe the pilot credit are available: one posted in July 2015 gives a general description of the pilot credit and why it is important, while the second webinar, posted in May 2017, describes the intent and requirements of the credit.

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