Often, businesses are faced with somewhat of a Sophie’s choice. They need to be a safe space for their employees and a green space for the environment. That balance has tilted toward safety for a number of obvious reasons.
- The human cost of being unsafe is immediate and observable.
- People can sue whereas the environment cannot.
- Safety concerns are easy to understand and have a clear path for resolution.
What is not as clear is that being green often includes recycling safety as a part of the package deal. It is not necessarily an either/or decision. That said, it would be wrong to suggest that the choice of what to do is always easy. In addition, environmental concerns do not always top the business hierarchy of needs. That spot is usually taken by profitability followed by liability, then recycling safety. What gets lost is the fact that environmentalism is recycling safety writ large.
Clean air is an environmental concern. But it is also an employee safety concern. None of us are healthy without clean air to breathe. The employer who focuses on outside air quality is likely the same employer who focuses on inside air quality. They are the ones taking extra measures to inspect and maintain their dust extraction systems. Doing it the old way endangers workers, costs a lot of time, and is not very efficient or effective.
By doing a remote visual inspection, companies like GE were able to get 4K imaging of their entire ductworks including the places that would have been difficult if not impossible to inspect manually. This type of high-tech inspection tool is also an environmental win as it is a small, battery-powered robot versus a large and power-hungry lifter. The robot will also be much faster at the task. Thus conserving even more energy.
Here are a few more examples where environmentalism and safety work together in a business:
Eco-Friendly Hand Sanitation
Hand-washing is like mask-wearing, it is no longer an option. It must happen frequently and with more chemicals than usual. Unfortunately, that can waste a lot of water in the process. And not all soaps and chemicals are particularly environmentally friendly.
You can encourage both green and clean by offering eco-friendly hand sanitation practices. Part of that includes providing eco-friendly soap and sanitizer products. You are doing your employees no favors by only offering solutions that force them to choose between being safe and being environmentally responsible. Therefore, eco-friendly products remove any possible barriers for usage.
There is also the matter of water. A pandemic is no excuse for wasting a natural resource. Not using low-flow faucet aerators is not only one of the main reasons your water bill is too high, it also causes unnecessary water waste. By making that one, small change, you can rack up wins for the environment, worker safety, and your bottom line.
Many people do not have comprehensive recycling options at home or in their neighborhood. Some things such as consumer electronics can be dangerous if not disposed of responsibly. The challenge is that every item has a different disposal requirement. Your company can help in two ways:
- Provide comprehensive recycling at your place of business so that your employees have a safe and systematic way to properly dispose of waste.
- Make your products from recycled material to the extent possible. And build them so that they can easily be repaired and reused so they don’t become waste so quickly.
The good news is that many companies are already on the right path with regard to recycling and disposal. Big Box retailers offer recycling options for consumer electronics that would normally fill junk drawers until irresponsibly thrown in the garbage. Companies like Apple are making more of their products from 100% recycled and sustainable material.
You don’t have to be a megacorp to do the right thing both for your workers’ safety and the environment. Start with little things like improving indoor air quality, providing eco-friendly hand sanitation options, and comprehensive recycling.