Wind Energy Update: Changes in Wind Power Safety Regulations Could Rock the Industry

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In recent years, and most noticeably 2011, the Occupations Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been turning its attention to the North American wind industry, regularly issuing between 5 and 8 figure citations. Next year wind farm owners, operators, manufacturers and contractors can expect at step up in enforcement of employee safety regulations that will not only impact the design of wind turbines, but also the operation and maintenance (O&M) practices.

At the recent AWEA event – Windpower 2011 – it was revealed that starting next year OSHA will begin with their National Emphasis Program (“NEP”) which will specifically target the wind industry.
Up until the NEP commences and before OSHA starts its region by region inspection of the nation’s wind farms, the administration will be inspecting sites only as issues arise, such as accidents and complaints.

Jon Harman, Director at Wind Energy Update gave his view: “the wind industry is unlike any other. A technician working roughly 350 feet above ground, in a restricted setting and within reach of potentially lethal electrified and rotary components has no means to learn from other industries. They are very much on their own out there and without the right training and guidance from employers, the likelihood of accidents and injuries is extremely high”

Harman continues: “Now is the time for employers to design their EHS strategies based from industry best practice to ensure staff safety, avoid citation and maximize productivity”.

In response to this critical issue, Wind Energy Update has recently launched its Health and Safety Summit USA. The event has been designed to give attendees the advantage of listening to North America’s major players as they discuss and debate their views on Health and Safety and how they have armed their companies with the knowledge needed for an accident free wind farm safety programme.

The focus of the event will revolve around OSHA explaining the latest updates on shifts in industry regulation, followed by a select range of utilities, operators, OEMs, manufacturers, contractors, consultants and service providers giving their views on best practice safety strategies, lock-out/tag-out, confined space safety, working at height, fall protection, arc flash evaluation & prevention, staff recruitment & training, working with 3rd party contractors, and also wind turbine ergonomics and design for safety.

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