Every October, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) runs a themed safety campaign aimed at businesses operating in this fast-growing industry.
This year, they’re focusing on electrical safety with a month-long ‘Stop The Shock’ campaign.
Their goal is to reduce exposure to major electrical hazards during the construction and operation of wind farms. Campaign materials include support materials for training, posters and hard hat stickers.
They have also produced a webinar which focuses on different types of electrical hazards, appropriate PPE, different types of wind turbine, electrical worker qualifications and understanding the difference between electrical shock, arc flash and arc blast.
Spanish publication ‘REVE’ (initials which, when translated, stand for Wind Energy and Electric Vehicle Review) is published in collaboration with the Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE) and is also pushing AWEA’s campaign.
They’ve identified that many wind farm workers lack awareness and understanding of the many potential electrical hazards in their work environment (including arc flash), which creates a substantial risk for electricity-related injuries.
Lack of Arc Flash awareness within wind energy sector
In August this year, Redwood Kardon (an American Electrical Safety Instructor) went on public record raising concerns about the levels of awareness in the sector while another electrical specialist, Jim Phillips, criticised the historic lack of qualifications and competence of those completing arc flash analysis and hazard calculations.
“I have been contacted by many people [over the years] asking about how to perform these studies,” said Phillips. “The questions they often ask are so fundamental, it makes you think they have no business doing one.”
Although there is now clearer guidance in place to ensure those working with electricity are deemed competent (both here and in the States), the fact that analysis studies could, until relatively recently, have been conducted by almost anyone casts doubt over the accuracy and reliability of older studies and risk assessments.
The Growth of The British Wind Energy Sector
Meanwhile in the UK, the Wind Energy Sector continues to grow at pace. The world’s largest off-shore wind farm opened off the coast of Cumbria on 6 September 2018, but plans to surpass it in scale are already underway.
Earlier in 2018, it was announced that an even bigger site will be developed off the North East Lincolnshire coast at Grimsby.
As with any major investment in new technology infrastructure, this represents great news for skilled job creation, which will have huge benefits to both the local and national economies.
However, the pace of growth in this sector also means the UK is facing a significant skills gap in the short to medium term.
This could result in a substantial proportion of engineering workforces comprising inexperienced new graduates or foreign migrants for whom English may not be a strong second language. Both of which can create a challenge for effective safety communication and awareness on site.
Mitigating the Risks of Arc Flash
As a last line of defence against what can be life-changing or life-ending injuries, we specialise in Arc Flash protective clothing and equipment.
Through our research into specific wind energy sector Arc Flash risks, we’ve developed specialist garments and PPE for those working in the sector.
We understand the challenges of your working environment and have designed the clothing to be warm, comfortable and durable to keep you safe in all conditions and stand the test of time.
Here at ProGARM, we’re committed to continuous improvement and innovation in all our protective garments and do all we can, every day, to make sure you have the best last line of defence in the event of an Arc Flash incident.
For more information about Arc Flash protective clothing, please contact us on +44 (0) 1482 679 600 and speak to one of our wind energy sector specialists.Back