What Businesses Can Do to Reduce Their Environmental Impact

Global warming is a hot topic in today’s world, and businesses are increasingly becoming conscious of the impact they have on the environment. Thankfully, there are many initiatives that a business can take to help reduce any negative impact. These initiatives have other bonuses as well.

Go Paperless

The idea of a paperless workplace started around the same time that personal computers became a widespread business accessory. However, it is only recently that the idea has started to float into the mainstream. Businesses can consume copious amounts of paper for all manner of things that don’t really need to be printed out. Being environmentally conscious with digitization instead of paper can ultimately save your business plenty of physical space and employee time and effort. It can also provide document security.

Stop Using Harmful Chemicals

Harmful chemicals are a part of many businesses, and their use always requires following proper legal guidelines. Failure to do so puts employees at high risk and can cause problematic environmental spills or runoff. Employers who force employees to use chemicals that are known to be harmful can be sued for negligence.

Encourage Carpooling and Biking

Auto emissions contribute to high carbon levels and pollution in the atmosphere. This is leading many businesses to promote carpooling and biking, but to maximize success, they need to take actionable steps. Ensure that your building has bicycle access and secure parking space for the bikes. Keep some bicycle essentials on-site for quick repairs, and offer incentives to employees who bike or carpool. Having executives and management set the example and lead a culture shift can be a big factor in whether others will follow along.

Use Renewable Energy and Efficient Appliances

No matter what type of business you have, it is likely that your building contains a variety of appliances. Whether you have a full restaurant kitchen or just a fridge for employees to keep their lunches in and a microwave to warm them, swapping to energy-efficient or renewable-energy appliances is a smart choice. Not only will these have a much smaller environmental footprint than older models, but they also usually save money in the long run. It may even be worth considering the installation of solar panels on your building.

Businesses are often an important part of the community that surrounds them. Having your business lead the way in positive environmental change is a great way to boost employee morale, local support, public relations and more. Most importantly, it helps keep our environment healthy.

How the Fossil Fuels Industry Harms Its Workers

Working on oil rigs that extract fossil fuels from deep within the earth or as an infrastructure employee that delivers the oil to refiners and finally to consumers is dangerous work. Oil industry workers face serious injury, long-term illness, and disability as a result of work-related hazards. Companies are required to meet basic safety standards under the Occupational Safety and Health Agency’s General Industry Standards, but protections are often not enough to prevent disaster. Here are a few ways that the fossil fuels industry harms its workers. 

Disasters

Of all the risky jobs associated with the industry, workers on oil rigs face the greatest dangers. Oil rig workers can suffer burns, broken bones, head injuries or spinal cord injuries. Furthermore, proper medical facilities are frequently far away or inaccessible from the rig, so injured workers may have to be medically evacuated with a helicopter or other means to seek medical care, which can risk further damage because timely care is essential to treating potentially devastating injuries. 

Toxic Fumes

Anyone who has ever smelled gasoline pumped at a station is familiar with the smell of petroleum fumes. Short-term exposure may not be a severe health risk, but the long-term exposure encountered by oil workers definitely can be. Toxic ingredients used in oil production include formaldehyde, benzene, mercury, and sulfur dioxide. When inhaled through fumes, these toxins penetrate the lungs, burying themselves deep in the tissue. As these toxins accumulate because the body is unable to eliminate them, the potential for cancer and other fatal health conditions mounts. 

Climate Change

Climate change threatens the survival of all people, including oil workers. Most people in the industry, especially those working on oil rigs and other blue-collar jobs, may not even be aware of the damage their industry is causing the planet. Many are simply trying to feed their families. However, the devastating greenhouse gas emissions caused by fossil fuels and other human activity are no longer subjects of serious debate. The best recent estimates indicate the global community has until 2032 to drastically reduce carbon emissions to avoid irreparable damage to the planet. The implications of climate change go well beyond melting ice in the Arctic; disappearing shorelines, the extinction of species crucial to the ecosystem’s health, like bees, and re-emerging diseases are just a few of the most serious threats.

The fossil fuel industry, while providing jobs for its employees with short-term benefits, neglects to properly account for all the damage it causes its workers and the world. If we want to make a difference for the better, we need to start aggressively implementing more sustainable approaches to energy.