Improving occupational health and safety in the renewable energy sector


Renewable energy (i.e. geothermal, solar, wind, hydro, and bioenergy) is the fastest growing energy source in the United States. In fact, most utility-scale power generation capacity additions slated for construction in the United States in 2021 are expected to be powered by renewables, the US Energy Administration reveals. And, between 2020-2030, approximately 45,000 megawatts of new solar energy and 55,000 megawatts of new wind turbines will be installed across the country simply to meet the requirements of the state’s renewable energy portfolio standards.

While this is great news for the environment and environmentally conscious consumers, this renewable energy boom will also inevitably lead to an increase in work-related accidents and fatalities across the industry (including more than three million people on the job market). United States would currently be working). . Fortunately, safety experts are implementing new standards and solutions to mitigate health and safety risks and make the industry safer for workers.

Low death rate

Fatal accidents in the renewable energy sector are fairly rare, data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics shows. In fact, the industry is significantly safer for workers than the fossil fuel industry. In the United States, five workers in the wind, biomass, solar and geothermal power generation industries have died in workplace accidents in a recent five-year span. Falls were responsible for four of the five deaths, while the fifth fatality was caused by a car accident.

For workers, sustaining an injury on the job can lead to temporary or permanent disability, pain and suffering, as well as permanent medical bills and loss of income, as it takes time off work to focus on recovery and rehabilitation. Fortunately, by contacting a reputable law firm, injured workers can file a workplace personal injury claim and obtain financial compensation to cover all relevant associated costs. Legal experts handle all aspects of the case, while the client can focus on collection with greater peace of mind.

A myriad of health and safety risks

Workers in the renewable energy sector face a number of health and safety risks, many of which are similar to risks found in other industries. For example, falls, fires, accidents in confined spaces and electrical currents are some of the most common. In addition, working conditions unique to the industry – the height of wind turbines, for example – make workers even more vulnerable to accidents and injuries.

New safety standards for wind turbines

The American National Standards Institute has partnered with the American Society of Safety Professionals to launch the nation’s first industry consensus standard designed specifically to protect workers involved in the construction and demolition of wind turbines. The standards include requirements for identifying equipment and site hazards and outline the training employers must provide to help eliminate worker accidents and fatalities.

The standards also require contractors to develop unique and personalized plans for sites in remote locations to cope with irregular communication networks, unreliable emergency response and poor weather conditions. Contractors should also assess the hazards of wind turbines, including exposed electrical and / or moving parts. In addition, the new standards include requirements for the rigging and cranes involved in construction. Crane operators, assemblers and signaling workers must also be sufficiently qualified.

The new standards will be reassessed in about 18 months (instead of the usual five years) to potentially put in place additional fall protection, as well as safety measures like fences and barricades to protect pedestrians. Technological innovations, in particular drones, could also be integrated in the near future. By striving to mitigate risks, health and safety standards in the renewable energy sector can only improve.

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