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Harmonised HSE standards for the offshore wind power industry

Introduction The offshore wind energy industry can still be considered a fledgling industry, and as such there is little experience to draw on in relation to health and safety. The specific environment that an offshore wind farm presents requires its own dedicated health and safety standards. Furthermore the industry is set to grow substantially in the coming decades, so the development of health and safety procedures will need to be an ongoing process to ensure that best practice is consistently carried out, and standards do not become quickly out-dated. Health and safety regulations impact on everyone involved in an offshore wind farm project including developers, manufacturers, suppliers, consultants and employees. With so many contributors, from several different countries involved in any one project, a harmonised health and safety standard across the industry is widely accepted as a necessary step in the development of wind power as Europes prominent energy source. In the current climate, each country that has offshore wind farms within its waters has its own regulatory authority, which sets out its own regulations and requirements. There is a desire amongst the executive bodies to communicate and develop an agreed standard throughout Europe, and several studies have been undertaken to collate data in respect of offshore incidents and issues to aid that process.

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Source: REPower

General health and safety legislation and legal requirements Some of the general health and safety laws which can be applied to the offshore wind power industry are detailed in this section, although none are specifically written for the industry (1). In practice, workers on offshore wind farms are more likely to follow the regulations set out by the company by which they are contracted. The Energy Act (LOV 1990-06-29 nr 50: Act on the generation, transmission, trading, distribution and use of energy etc). The act is applicable to electrical energy and its generation, transmission, trading and distribution on land to ensure that the
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activities are undertaken in a socially efficient manner. Much of the act regards the applications and issuing of licences for the development of electrical equipment. In this respect it may affect the offshore wind industry, although little pertains directly to health and safety.

The Ocean Energy Act (LOV 2010-06-04 nr 21: Act on renewable energy production at sea) came into force in June 2010, and is applicable to the utilization of renewable energy at sea; including wind, waves and tides. It also regulates the conversion and transmission of electrical energy offshore. The main purpose of the act is to facilitate the use of these resources in line with social objectives, and to ensure that any offshore installations are planned, constructed and disposed of in the interests of the environment, energy, and business. One requirement is that the installation, the operation, and the decommissioning of offshore energy plants should be such that a high level of health and safety can be maintained and developed in accordance with technological advances.

IEC 88/379/NP: Standard for Floating Offshore Wind Turbines: The new proposal was first issued in October 2010, since when the title has been changed from Standard to Technical Specification. While it is still only a draft, the proposal includes guidelines for floating offshore wind turbines using design concepts such as spar buoys, tension leg platforms, barges, and mooring systems. The aim of the specification is to provide an appropriate level of protection against damage from all hazards during the planned lifetime. It defines in detail the principles, technical requirements and assessment procedures for the design, installation, and

maintenance of floating offshore wind turbines.

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Other legislation that could concern offshore wind power in relation to health and safety would include the Employment Protection Act, and possibly the Pollution Act.

Specific health and safety standards for offshore environments The RenewableUK organisation, which was formerly known as the BWEA, has developed the Wind Turbine Safety Rules (WTSR) (2). These standards were initially developed by wind farm owners and operators with the intention of introducing a formal safety standard for the systems of work on operational wind farms. Although these rules are not legally binding, RenewableUK works closely with the Crown Estate, with the Round 3 development of UK offshore in mind, and earlier this year invited tenders for the drafting of new guidelines covering Offshore Wind and Marine health and Safety. The WTSR are designed to provide industry good practice for safeguarding employees from the dangers of installed electrical and mechanical equipment in wind turbines; to assist in the development and application of consistent safe systems of work; and to assist with a robust approach to the legal compliance with relevant health and safety regulations. The WTSR have been in operation since 2005 and have been successfully used on over 100 wind farms across the UK and Ireland. They are intended to be used as a reference by a competent person and implemented alongside their organisations own health and safety management systems; taking into account the specific site and turbine conditions, along with any other relevant circumstances. The safety rules are split into two sections as shown by the diagram below. The High Voltage infrastructure is one section, the other being the wind turbine, the plant, and its associated low voltage infrastructure.
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The WTSR require AWPs (Approved Written Procedures) to be in place for any type of work deemed significant enough to warrant it. An AWP is similar to a method statement, and specifies how the work should be carried out and what precautions and safety measures should be taken to protect the employee during the course of the work. It also contains sign off procedures to prove that these precautions were taken, and the rules include guidelines as to what type of work should require an AWP.

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References (1) http://www.sintef.no/upload/Teknologi_og_samfunn/Sikkerhet%20og%20p% C3%A5litelighet/Final%20report%20HSE%20challenges%20offshore%20rene wable%20energy.pdf (2) http://www.bwea.com/safety/safety_rules.html (3) http://www.ens.dk/en-US/OilAndGas/Health_and_Safety/Sider/Forside.aspx (4) http://www.renewable-uk.com/events/health-safety-conference/pdf/2011Presentations/Hansen.pdf

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