One Tall Order

Wind turbines are getting larger and larger. Some turbines' nacelles can be about 160 meters—about 525 feet—above the ground, and the blades can be about 75 meters long.

Undoubtedly an engineering feat, Hywind Scotland also may present unique safety challenges, now that the 30MW wind farm floating off the coast of Scotland has become operational in October 2017. It consists of five turbines, each measuring 830 feet from its base to the tips of its 75-meter blades. The farm could be used in waters half a mile deep, and these five are 15 miles offshore.

It is the world's first commercial floating wind farm, operated by partners Statoil and Masdar; because it can operate in such deep water, it can work in areas that have been inaccessible for offshore wind, Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president of the New Energy Solutions at Statoil, said Oct. 18.

Larger turbines produce more energy, so manufacturers have continued to develop taller towers and longer blades. But performing maintenance on them is more dangerous as a result.

Two years ago, during ASSE's Safety 2015 conference in Dallas, an insurance industry presenter on wind turbine safety hazards explained that the hazards turbine maintenance workers face—falls, confined spaces, fire hazards, lockout/tagout incidents, first aid injuries, electrical hazards, machine guarding, arc flash—are increased when they're working 300 feet above the ground, which makes rescue or descent more difficult. At sea and miles offshore, it could be particularly difficult.

He showed the audience a photo from a nacelle fire and explained that tool drops were one of the biggest challenges for the maintenance crews.

When that presentation was delivered, turbine height had soared by about 50 percent in just six years, to about 100-110 meters high, and by 96 percent in rotor diameter, and the speaker predicted annual installations would remain high through 2050. Now, some of the largest turbines' nacelles can be about 160 meters—about 525 feet—above the ground, and the blades can be about 75 meters long. The nacelles of the Hywind turbines are "large enough to fit two typical London double decker buses," according to Statoil.

This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Safety Management Software - Free Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Software’s comprehensive suite of modules help organizations to record and manage incidents, inspections, hazards, behavior based safety observations, and much more. Improve safety with an easy to use tool for tracking, notifying and reporting on key safety data.

  • Create Flexible Safety Dashboards

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations allows you to easily create and view safety KPIs to help you make informed business decisions. Our best of breed default indicators can also save you valuable time and effort in monitoring safety metrics.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • The 4 Stages of an Incident Investigation

    So, your workplace has just experienced an incident resulting in the injury or illness of a worker. Now what? OSHA recommends that you conduct investigations of workplace incidents using a four-step system.

  • Why Is Near Miss Reporting Important?

    A near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen. Learn how to investigate these close calls and prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

Free Whitepaper

Stand Your Ground: A Guide to Slip Resistance in Industrial Safety Footwear

This white paper helps to clarify this complexity, so you can better navigate the standards and better ensure the safety of your employees.

Download Now →

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2019

    November/December 2019

    Featuring:

    • GAS DETECTION
      Redefining Compliance for the Gas Detection Buyer
    • FALL PROTECTION
      Don't Trip Over the Basics
    • VISION PROTECTION
      What to Look for in Head-to-Toe PPE Solutions
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      Effective PPE for Flammable Dust
    View This Issue