Wind energy safety is a careful blend of fall protection, electrical hazard awareness and much more. Hear the best practices for working on wind turbines.
Working 30 stories up can a challenge for a worker. Add in unpredictable weather, high voltages, fire hazards, and confined space. This dangerous combination is business-as-usual at a wind farm.
In this podcast, Dan Clark describes the ways to stay safe when working on and below a wind turbine.
Dan Clark: Wind energy safety can be a big problem for workers, at up to 300 feet above the ground! Beyond fall hazards, add in electrical and fire dangers. And lightning. Other industries can learn from wind energy safety measures.
Hello, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, tackling health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites, compliments of Creative Safety Supply. Go to creativesafetysupply.com and use coupon code BIG10. That saves you 10%.
The wind energy industry has skyrocketed in the past 15 years. Wind turbines are popping up like big, steel daisies. These machines pose unique hazards. Workers must be trained to avoid serious accidents.
Most wind turbine jobs must have two people, that’s an OSHA rule.
• Do a fitness evaluation of every climber, every time.
• The newest turbines have elevators or climbing assist equipment.
• Older towers have a ladder and it may take 30 minutes to get up there.
• Appropriate personal fall arrest systems have to be worn properly.
• Many cases of workers falling involve wearing the gear but not attaching it to the appropriate anchor points or ladders.
• Most wind farm turbines have no fire suppression system.
• Quick escape descent devices are very important in case of a fire.
• Lightning strikes, storms and wind can be a big problem.
• At offshore wind farms, weather can be an even bigger challenge.
• This hazard may be obvious but it’s often overlooked and can pose a significant threat.
• Since a wind turbine’s job is to produce electricity, there is the danger of electrical shock, arc flash and burns.
• Don’t work on live equipment. De-energize the system. Use lockout/tagout.
• Work performed in the nacelle—the brain of the turbine which contains the control system, gearbox and generator—is considered confined space work.
• Air monitoring and work plans are a must.
• Workers must often climb very tall ladders, repeatedly. This can lead to fatigue and strain.
Training should cover all of these hazards and include emergency plans for fires and severe weather. Plans should include rescue operations. What happens if someone is injured while servicing a turbine? Getting them first aid quickly is essential.
That’s all for this episode on Wind Energy Safety. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10% off your entire order at creativesafetysupply.com with coupon code BIG10.
Video by EWEA, the European Wind Energy Association:
Men on nacelle image; aerial image by Dept Of Energy / NREL / Dennis_Schroeder. Other images by Dept. of Labor / OSHA