News

HSE highlights ‘reversal’ in health and safety across wind sector

1 December 2020

The Health and Safety Executive have expressed their concerns about a number of serious incidents and an apparent general reversal in health and safety performance across areas of the wind energy sector.

The HSE raised the issue in letters to SafetyOn and G+, in July, as the UK was starting to emerge from the first pandemic lockdown and work activity was starting to increase again.

SafetyOn is a UK industry body that looks after health and safety for onshore wind and G+ is a global offshore wind health and safety organisation.

In the letter, Trevor Johnson, HM principal inspector of health and safety, wrote:

“In some sectors of the wind energy industry, improvements in health and safety performance has at best stalled if not reversed. In 2020, there have been a number of serious incidents both in the UK and elsewhere which could indicate that any reversal may continue. This would be unacceptable.

“I know that your organisation and your members state your commitment to improve health and safety, however there is a renewed need to ensure that all organisations and individuals provide the necessary leadership to ensure health and safety remains an industry priority.”

Mr Johnson added that the HSE would be restarting proactive site inspections at both offshore and onshore wind farms and included a list of criteria to determine whether the industry was being ‘COVID-19’ compliant.

The list included areas such as suitability of work equipment, training and supervision, social distancing, emergency response arrangements, fatigue and personal wellbeing and incident reporting.

Industry response

In their coordinated responses to HSE’s letter, SafetyOn and G+ both acknowledged the regulator’s concerns and reaffirmed their ongoing commitment to improving health and safety.

Both bodies said they had forwarded HSE’s letter to their constituent members.

In an identical passage across both letters, SafetyOn and G+, wrote:

“All members have committed to carrying out internal reviews of their own work arrangements considering the points raised in your letter.

“In addition, all members are committed to continue working with their own supply chain to ensure that they are aware of your concerns and appropriate arrangements are in place to drive improvements in health and safety.”

Prospect fatigue webinar

Prospect has long advocated that health and safety is a critical issue for renewables, and particularly for wind energy.

In October, Prospect held a webinar focussing on fatigue in the energy sector as whole, but it also included a contribution from Dr Fiona Earle, an occupational psychologist from the University of Hull, whose recent work has focused on managing fatigue in the renewables industry.

Read more about Dr Earle’s presentation at the Prospect webinar here.


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