If you are interested in making a difference while improving our environment, a “green job” may be just the thing for you!  More and more types of jobs are opening up that offer new ways of furnishing energy, and conserving the natural resources that our earth offers.  Some “green jobs” have been around for a while.  Safety measures must be taken to protect the workers, just the same as in any other job. 

Recycling may have been one of the first ways that we began to think about ways to use things more than one time.  I remember my grandmother would rinse out little plastic bags, hang them on a little line by the sink with a clothespin to dry, and reuse them.  Saving aluminum foil was another way of recycling, a long time before the word “recycling” became popular.  Now, recycling has become a big industry.  Metal scrap recycling is a huge business that processes  in the U.S. alone, 56 million tons of scrap iron and steel, which includes 10 million tons of scrap automobiles.  Scrap copper, lead, zinc, stainless steel and smaller quantities of other metals are processed on an annual basis.  Ferrous scrap metal contains iron, and nonferrous metals do not contain iron.  There are ways to recycle just about anything these days – paper, bottles, and cans, to name a few. 

Since 1985, the percentage of waste recycled in the U.S. has doubled, and this trend will likely continue.  Turning materials that become waste into valuable products brings big financial, environmental and social returns to the country.  As this industry continues to grow, so do the number of available jobs, and each presents its own safety and health risks.  The most common causes of illness in this industry are poisoning from lead or cadmium, skin diseases and respiratory conditions due to inhalation of toxic agents.  Some incidents may be caused by contact with an object or piece of equipment, overextension, or exposure to a harmful substance.  Whether serving as a volunteer to do recycling, or working in that particular field, there are certain types of personal protective equipment that should be worn -from gloves, respirators, goggles, safety glasses, hardhats, to protective clothing, depending on the specific job. 

Weather Insulating/Sealing is another type of “green job.”   Weather technicians update old or inefficient residential or business structures to make them energy efficient.  Their tasks may include installation of fans, blower doors, energy-efficient windows, weather stripping, sealing and caulking.  They must be safety and environmentally conscientious.  Their jobs may require them to crawl into confined spaces, climb ladders, and use power hand tools.  Various types of weathering include blow-in and spray-on applications.  Persons seeking these jobs should have a certain amount of training in order to apply these materials to product specifications in order to achieve proper weatherization.  Because these applications and materials include working with fiberglass, cellulose, spray polyurethane foam, polystyrene, and latex sealant, workers should be provided with the proper respiratory protection, adequate ventilation, and training in first aid.  Some of these materials are flammable, so extreme precautions should be taken.  Other materials can cause asthma and allergic reactions in some individuals. 

Those who work in “green jobs” are making our world more environmentally friendly.  They must follow the same safety procedures and policies as those in other jobs.  We have described some of the “green jobs” that are improving our lives.  Support these by recycling, conserving energy, or trying something new that is “earth friendly.”  We all can do more by teaching our young people to appreciate the earth, and keep it beautiful.  Look around, and notice how many persons are picking up  trash on highways, or cleaning up after a sports event.  If every person would do their own little “green job”, we wouldn’t have to ask others to do it.  We have a saying in Texas, (as you know), “Don’t Mess With Texas.”  Why don’t we have a new theme, “Don’t Mess With Our EARTH!”  (It’s the only home we have!)


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