While the wind industry will never face the equivalent of a Deepwater oil spill or a Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, its spectacular growth rates over the last decade do mean there are more health and safety hazards.
An electrical fire can occur; heavy parts can fall from great heights; lifting huge unstable loads with cranes could go wrong; transferring workers from vessels to an offshore turbine in wavy conditions could be dangerous and, when an accident occurs in a remote wind farm, rescue can take longer.
Workers do not have the benefits of years of experience in the industry – and continually rising numbers of people are employed in the sector. “Greater man hours give the potential for a greater number of accidents”, said Claus Rose, Division Environment, Health and Safety Officer at Siemens
Larger wind farms with bigger machines means the potential for accidents grows, points out Chris Streatfeild, Director of Health and Safety at industry body RenewableUK. And the risk factor gets even higher as we move further offshore into bigger farms in more hostile environments.
Marian Georghiou, EWEA’s Health and Safety Officer, explained that even though currently there is no EU framework for wind, EWEA and its members aim to maintain and further improve the level of Health and Safety by working together on industry best practices.
Effective and understandable training is also key to improving health and safety. Training can include first aid, working at height, fire awareness, offshore sea survival, electrical and mechanical safety training and others.
Read more in the latest Wind Directions