As the cost of safety violations in terms of OSHA and environmental fees rises, conversations surrounding wind turbine safety become more prevalent.
With 20% of electricity in the US slated to come from wind turbines by 2030, the industry is host to a growing number of wind energy workers.
This growth, combined with the turbines’ often remote locations and other inherent challenges, means it’s absolutely imperative that all workers and their employers are well-versed in the wind energy industry’s stringent health and safety protocols.
Wind Turbine Safety
While generally quite a safe industry, workers are exposed to various risks every time they perform preventive maintenance scheduled work on a turbine.
Although the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration covers wind energy workers in its general workplace standards, those working in the wind industry face many risks that are specific to turbines.
Workers must face great heights, for example, as well as high voltages and potentially dangerous weather conditions, all of which can result in consequences ranging from minor injuries to death.
With the right wind turbine safety standards in place, however, it’s possible to not only dramatically minimize these risks, but in many cases, eliminate them outright.
Whether you’re new to the wind power industry or simply want a refresher on common wind turbine safety regulations, you can’t afford to ignore the following features of wind turbine safety.
Appropriate Protection Systems
A protection system is a mechanism that is implemented at the design stage of wind turbines to protect them from overheating, overvoltage, grid failure, crashing and more. Being mindful of these safety and protection systems at the outset will improve health and safety outcomes for workers in the future.
Proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and Tools
As with any industry—but especially those that involve hazardous equipment or materials—it’s
vital that all workers that come into contact with wind turbines wear appropriate PPE. Choice of gear might vary somewhat from company to company, but there are certain pieces that should be standard for anyone approaching a wind site.
The National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 70E outlines the standard Arc Flash PPE requirements for those working with electricity, with four different categories that cover different Arc Ratings. This PPE might include a face shield, rubber electrician gloves, hearing protection and a fire-retardant jacket or suit.
When utilized correctly, this equipment protects workers from the potentially deadly effects of shocks, electrocution and Arc Flashes.
PPE should also include adequate fall protection equipment, like harnesses and lanyards.
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The tools that wind energy workers carry on the job—ladders, electric meters, etc.—are equally as crucial as the equipment they’re outfitted with. Using incorrect or damaged tools can prove catastrophic for both the tools themselves and for the workers that are using them.
It’s vital for workers’ own safety and that of their colleagues that they never drop any of the tools they’re working with. They can achieve this through the proper use of strings, bungee cords, magnets and whatever other drop protection equipment a team may have on hand. Despite these protection measures, it’s still a good idea to wear a hard hat at all times to avoid the risk of falling objects.
Adequate Wind Turbine Safety Training Related to:
Working at Significant Heights and in Enclosed Spaces
Working in the wind industry not only requires technicians to be adept at all technical aspects of the job, but also to be comfortable (and knowledgeable about) working at heights and in small spaces, as many workers must work inside the turbines themselves.
Workers should have ample training in climbing and rescuing—skills that they can gain or refresh in industry-specific training courses. Such courses will often focus on fall protection theory, including the appropriate use of tools and equipment and proper positioning.
Even more so than in other industries, it’s necessary for wind energy workers to be trained in first aid, as their work often takes them to remote locations far from any medical professionals. Rather than designating a select few workers to administer basic first aid care, it’s wise to ensure that all team members have some degree of training.
Maintaining Consistent Wind Turbine Safety Procedures
While few industries are entirely risk-free, the wind industry—despite the heights, high voltage and other dangers that workers may face—needn’t be dangerous. By being mindful of the above aspects of wind turbine safety, it’s easy for those in the wind power field to enjoy a career that’s as safe as it is fulfilling.
With 60Hertz’s offline-first Maintenance Management Software, it’s easy to schedule repairs, get reminders and ensure that all PPE and safety procedures are known, easily accessible and readily apparent.
Talk to us today about getting a free demo to see just how easy our software is for anyone to use.