22 MAY/JUNE 2016 RENEWABLE ENERGY WORLD MAGAZINE
Annual Incident Report indicates that in 2014,
among the 944 reported offshore incidents, 95
required frst aid, and 89 were “medical treat-
Collective industry awareness of accident
incidence rate is taken as central to advancing
safety by the authors of the Occupational safety
and health in the wind energy sector (EU-OSHA,
2013) report, because at the very least it pro-
vides motivation for continual improvement.
However, the effort to improve safety is driv-
en by a variety of others sources, too. As Jakob
Holst, Secretary General of the Global Wind
Organization (GWO) explained:
“[The whole industry is] working to improve
safety. It’s not just a sentimental issue — poor
safety can increase downtime of technicians,
lengthen time needed for servicing of turbines,
and in turn reduce a wind farm’s productivity.
Good safety is good business.”
That’s why it is important to embed safe-
ty into the working environment, or as Streat-
feild referred to it, “safe by design.” The focus
of which is on evaluating risks of operations
(installation, O&M or otherwise), site circumstances, and project-
ing these through the life-cycle of a wind turbine. By incorporat-
ing better safety features across the whole spectrum “you design
in such a way that the exposure to risk is marginalized.”
Improvements in the reliability of technology therefore has a
direct impact on safety. Fewer breakdowns mean fewer repairs.
Equally, improved diagnostics through smart use of data, can
further reduce breakdowns, limit the severity of faults when they
do occur and reduce servicing.
Altogether, improvements are leading to “operations becoming
much more effcient and therefore reducing the need for workers to be out in a [risky] environment; and it means when they
are out, they’re involved in multiple activities, reducing their risk
exposure in terms of both time and severity,” said Streatfeild.
When technicians are required to climb turbines, they’re
increasing aided by state-of-the-art technologies — includ-
ing safety devices, access tools, and inspection equipment —
which make work safer. These have a valuable role to play said
Streatfeild: “UAVs [unmanned
aerial vehicles, aka, drones]
are a very good example
— when inspecting a tur-
bine, you can eliminate the
need for a lot of climbing.
It’s quicker, it’s safer, and it’s
The bottom line is that bet-
ter safety equipment and pro-
cedures are invariably highly
Installation of Siemens’ 6-MW
wind turbine in Germany. The
nacelle design offers an improved
working environment with
safe and easy access to all key
components. Credit: Siemens.