The Health & Safety Executive (HSE), Great Britain’s independent regulator for work-related health, safety and illness, has written to the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) raising concerns about safety in the UK offshore wind industry.
Confirming receipt of the 10 July 2020 letter from UK HSE principal inspector of health and safety Trevor Johnson, IMCA said it raised concerns about recent incidents in the wind energy industry.
“With companies starting to increase activity levels in some areas we believe this letter should act as a timely reminder for all our members to remain vigilant with regards to health and safety,” said IMCA.
“We are currently defining our approach to the HSE’s request; however, the first step is sharing the letter with our members.”
In the letter, the HSE noted that UK governments are moving into the next stages of their responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. “As work activity increases and following a review of recent Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDORs) and data from the various industry bodies, I have concluded that in some sectors of the wind energy industry, improvements in health and safety performance have at best stalled if not reversed,” said Mr Johnson.
“In 2020, there have been a number of serious incidents both in the UK and elsewhere which could indicate that any reversal may continue. This would be unacceptable.
“I know that your organisation and your members state your commitment to improve health and safety; however, there is a renewed need to ensure that all organisations and individuals provide the necessary leadership to ensure health and safety remains an industry priority.
“HSE plans to restart proactive site inspections at offshore and onshore windfarms. These inspections will allow HSE to determine if the industry is Covid-19 compliant; performance was not compromised during the pandemic and arrangements to manage health and safety are provided,” said Mr Johnson.
The HSE said that while it will continue to consider the holistic approach to health and safety, it will specifically consider a number of matters. These include ensuring work equipment subject to statutory inspection regimes is in a safe condition and arrangements are in place to ensure all inspections are now being carried out; and that arrangements are in place to ensure new entrants into the industry are provided with suitable information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure they work safely.
It also wants to ensure that during the period where social distancing measures are required and thereafter, suitable arrangements for monitoring and auditing performance are provided.
Mr Johnson said the HSE also wants to ensure that well publicised cost-reductions or other pressures do not lead to compromises in health and safety and in particular that work is planned to ensure that revised deadlines are realistically achievable in practice and do not lead to work being conducted in poor weather or dangerous environmental conditions.
Other focus areas include ensuring that emergency response arrangements are provided, fully and regularly tested with lessons learnt incorporated; that arrangements are in place to monitor factors including fatigue and personal circumstances to ensure individual well-being; and incidents, cases of ill-health, dangerous occurrences and safety observations are properly reported, investigated and where necessary, steps taken to prevent recurrence.
“I would be obliged if you could forward this letter to your members. If you or any of your members wish to discuss the content of this letter further than please contact me. I would ask you to respond, on behalf of your members by 3 August 2020 indicating the steps that will be taken to deliver health and safety improvements,” said Mr Johnson.