G+ continues to work on a variety of topics to bring the offshore wind industry together and drive health and safety performance in the industry. The work programme for 2021 includes workstreams on physical health and wellbeing, CTV operations, floating offshore wind, onshore civils work in construction, worker involvement and a virtual Safe by Design workshop.
Physical health and wellbeing workstreams
Physical health as well as emotional health and wellbeing can affect an individual's work and their work can affect their health and wellbeing. In 2019 the G+ launched a workstream on physical and medical requirements with the goal to support the development of harmonised international industry health standards that also include the physical capacity side of the tasks in offshore wind (OW). There is also a growing concern about psychological wellbeing.
The G+ has two dedicated workstreams on this health theme. The University of Portsmouth (UoP) has worked with subject matter experts in G+ member companies to conduct a job task analysis and in July, UoP delivered a full interim report on Recommended Physical Capacity Assessments for Offshore Windfarm Technicians. The report presents the minimum physical capacities required by offshore wind technicians as well as a variety of options for their assessment. Such assessments of physical capacity are based upon the essential frequent and essential infrequent tasks undertaken by wind technicians and should ensure that wind technicians have, and maintain, a level of fitness that is sufficient to safely perform and withstand the physically demanding tasks associated with the job, to at least a minimum acceptable standard. The work presented in the report is based on data gathered within interviews with subject matter experts, technicians and through reviewing of standard operating manuals. Findings have been complemented and validated by industry surveys and international peer reviewed academic studies. The proposed minimum standards now need to be agreed and authorised by the members of the G+ so that in a final phase of the study a standardised delivery of the assessment can be provided.
In cooperation with the University of Hull and UK HSE, the G+ is undertaking work to support wellbeing and emotional health within OW. In the first phase of the project, a series of interviews are planned to address the challenges faced by Operation & Maintenance workers with the aim of developing a tool to assess stress factors in the OW industry. In 2021 the scope of the study was broadened to include construction workers and managers. Unfortunately, not enough volunteers in construction could be recruited for interviews, so the construction element of the research question had to be put on hold. From the manager, side positive responses were received for participation in the study.
This project is also complemented by a parallel study that examines the wellbeing issues amongst onshore workers conducted by SafetyOn. Both studies are seen as part of the overall goal to identify the issues that cause stress in the wind sector, their impact on wellbeing and what can be done to reduce the risk.
Safety in crew transfer vessel (CTV) operations
According to the G+ incident data, there is still room for improvement in the safety of CTVs. The G+ has previously developed guidance on management of small service vessels. The workstream for 2021 though is looking into why incidents have occurred and what campaigns or similar can be delivered to try and reduce the number of incidents. It is being delivered in collaboration with the Workboat Association and is looking at areas such as paperwork, complacency, manning levels and fatigue. A first draft of the report, looking at why incidents were occurring, was delivered by the consultants in July. The document is currently being reviewed by the working group. The next step, once causes have been agreed, is to look at the action required to stop the incidents from occurring.
Floating offshore wind
Floating offshore wind is a fast-maturing technology and becoming popular not only in Europe but especially in the APAC region and the US market. Since 2021, a G+ working group investigates the specific health and safety risks and mitigation options of this new technology and aims to produce industry guidance. The working group has broad representation from G+ members and associates. To support the workstream, HAZID workshops will be held with industry and G+ members and associates in October 2021.
Onshore civils work in construction
SafetyOn and G+ are collaborating to address the risks associated with onshore civil construction works in the wind industry. Onshore civils construction is an issue that effects both the onshore and offshore wind industry. A joint workgroup was formed with members of SafetyOn and G+ aiming to develop good practice principles for key incident areas. The guidance will assist the wind industry in contractor management and behavioural safety for onshore civil construction works and will set out a high-level baseline for all stages and aspects of a project timeline. The aim is to finalise the guidance document by early 2022.
During the G+ Stakeholder Day Forum in 2021, the G+ held interviews with technicians to understand technicians’ views on the safety culture in the offshore wind industry, risk areas, options for risk mitigation and future work for the G+.
Interviewees painted a generally positive picture of the safety culture in OW. Risks are mitigated well, and procedures are mostly followed. However, contractors experience pressure to perform which can lead to procedures not being followed. As the biggest risk areas, technicians pointed out CTV transfers, lifting and manual handling, in line with G+ incident data. The risk of “slips, trips and falls” as well as electric and hydraulic engineering were also mentioned as important risk areas. To mitigate risks, technicians suggested more regular technical and first aid training. Technicians agreed that more promotion of G+ work such as guidelines and Safe by Design Workshops is needed to raise awareness and would generally be welcomed by technicians.
The secretariat has reached out to interviewed technicians to find out how information on G+’s work can best be brought to their attention. Additionally, the summary for technicians of the 2020 incident data report has been restructured to specifically address technicians’ needs. Worker involvement remains a focus area for the G+ and we welcome any suggestions as to how we can make improvements.
G+ Safe by Design workshop
The first virtual G+ Safe by Design workshop was held on 10th June 2021 and focused on issues associated with wind turbine blades routine internal access and egress, routine maintenance, and emergency rescue from personnel accessing a blade.
The workshop, comprising problem identification and potential solution exercises, was developed to explore these blade related issues and potential solutions with a focus on design solutions. Across the workshop, many common and inter-related issues and associated recommendations were identified and will be published in a Safe by Design report later this year.