in News Departments > New & Noteworthy
print the content item



For years, the wind power industry maintained that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) did not understand the nuances of wind energy and, therefore, did not give the industry fair treatment in cases involving safety-related incidents at wind farms. However, the agency is sharpening its focus on wind energy.

In fact, more than 40 inspectors and department heads recently spent two days learning about techniques for wind turbine tower climbing, climb and rescue procedures, and proper lockout/tagout procedures.

Michele Myers Mihelic, manager of labor, health and safety policy at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), says the program's intent was to clear up the misconceptions about wind energy.

In turn, AWEA hopes that by inviting OSHA, it will receive more consistent treatment among the organization’s federal office, 15 state offices and 10 regional offices.

"In the past, safety incidents would have been judged differently across OSHA districts," Myers Mihelic says. "Now, hopefully, that will not be the case."

Myers Mihelic says the program was spurred by several recent safety incidents that attracted media coverage - and more attention from OSHA.

According to AWEA, 37 OSHA personnel were trained to climb the ladder structure of a wind turbine and perform self-rescue. They were also able to access a wind turbine nacelle in order to develop a better understanding of how a wind turbine operates, Myers Mihelic says.

The seven OSHA employees who did not climb the wind turbine toured Invenergy's Grand Ridge wind project, located in Marseilles, Ill. Trainers from Tech Safety Lines, UpWind Solutions and Rope Partners assisted in the program.

"Trainees went through a rigorous six-station course to practice all essential elements of a successful rescue operation," Myers Mihelic explains. "They learned how to operate a harness from a standing and suspended position, how to escape from inside a turbine tower and the top of a nacelle, how to deploy a fall-arrest lanyard and rigging, and how to rescue incapacitated victims on a fixed ladder."

This understanding is crucial for OSHA workers when they review safety incidents, she adds.

Myers Mihelic says the safety-training program is notable because, contrary to popular belief, it is not constructed so that OSHA can begin random inspections of wind farms.

The training program is one of the results of an alliance formed between OSHA and AWEA in August 2011. Through the program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health in order to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses.

OSHA's increased emphasis on wind energy includes the formation of a task force to learn more about wind energy.

Tom Bielema, OSHA area director and task force member, says the hands-on training providing task force members with the "proper knowledge, skills, equipment and understanding that they will need to perform their required functions. It is important to understand the conditions that the external customers work on or are responsible for."


Trachte Inc._id1770
Latest Top Stories

Quebec Government Postpones Wind Power RFP; No New Date Scheduled

The request for proposals (RFP) is part of an overall 800 MW wind power tranche that will serve as a bridge to the next phase in the province's energy future.


Setting The Record Straight: How Many Birds Do Wind Turbines Really Kill?

Several peer-reviewed studies are more or less in agreement with avian mortality rates caused by wind turbines. However, one study, which is wildly off from the others, is most often cited in the media. Why?


Six Takeaways From The IRS' Start Of Construction Guidance: What You Need To Know

The IRS recently issued guidance to wind developers to further spell out what "start of construction" means. Will you be covered?


Eagle Take Permits For Wind Farms - Will They Fly?

Now that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued the first permit allowing the legal take of eagles, can wind developers expect more certainty in the agency's application process?


Despite 2013 Challenges, U.S. Wind Power Reaches All-Time Low Price

In a new report, the U.S. Department of Energy details the highs and lows of the country's wind industry last year, and the agency maintains that the U.S. sector remains strong.

Canwea_id1984
Renewable NRG_id1934
UnitedEquip_id1995
Tower Conference_id1965