It’s a pretty scary combination when you think about it: Lofty heights, large spinning rotors, high-voltage electricity and weather exposure – no doubt about it, wind-power industry workers face a lot of risks. It’s why they go through rigorous training programs covering things like emergency response and rescue, electrical safety and working at heights. This training helps build a culture of worker safety, the industry says, but it’s hard to know how successful these efforts really are and how consistently they are followed by companies. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects injury and illness data for various energy industries, the wind information isn’t separated out.
Now, however, there might be hope for a more rigorous, consistent and accountable focus on safety. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced an alliance – called “Alliance” – culminating more than a year and a half of collaborative work to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.
AWEA said its goals and objectives for Alliance include standardizing and improving safety and health practices in the industry; developing and maintaining an open line of communication with OSHA to ensure safe practices; assisting OSHA in understanding the safety and health issues within the wind industry; and ensuring consistent application of safety compliance and enforcement initiatives across the country.
AWEA is also said it is in the process of collecting anonymous and voluntary data on safety and health in the wind energy industry to develop baseline statistics.
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