Offshore wind farms are becoming a greater part of the UK’s energy mix. However, the move toward renewables has also led to questions on how to improve health and safety for employees working in the industry.
Recently, the Offshore Group of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) recently held an event to discuss how the renewables, marine and oil and gas sectors could collaborate to address the health and safety challenges associated with the offshore sectors.
The event, which was hosted at the Stadium of Light in Sheffield, was entitled Let's Talk: exploring the synergies and differences between the offshore oil and gas and offshore renewables sector. It examined the risks faced by these industries and how they could work together effectively to address them, such as conducting joint exercises and sharing resources.
Simon Hatson, Chair of IOSH's Offshore Group, stated:
“As the offshore windfarms are being built further offshore and the sectors are required to work even closer to each other, it is essential that we consider the safety and health implications of this.
"As was recognised throughout the event, within our industry it is vital that, where we can, we seek to combine our knowledge and resources to put robust safety and health management systems in place. This way we can share our knowledge, efforts and provisions to continue to protect our workers from harm.”
Hatson added that introducing these systems would also benefit the sector by enabling it to become more productive and efficient.
Industry representatives used the event as an opportunity to raise their specific concerns, such as the challenges posed due to the different regulatory regimes in place for each sector. However, Chris Streatfield of RenewableUK stressed that “this does not mean the sectors cannot combine to protect employees”.
Peter Lowson of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency highlighted the possibility of vessels colliding or helicopter accidents. However, he felt the risk of such accidents could be reduced by sharing resources.
Offshore wind farms
The amount of electricity produced from offshore wind increased by more than 25 per cent in the first quarter of 2016, and given the growing role it is likely to play energy security, it is vital that the health and safety concerns are addressed.
DONG Energy are currently leading the way in the offshore wind power sector, and it recently committed to building the world’s largest wind farm, Hornsea Project One, which will have the capacity to power more than one million homes.