Did you know that every year there are approximately 40,000 deaths as a result of a fall?
Falls are one of the leading causes of death and injuries, but many underestimate how damaging they can be. It doesn’t take extreme heights for these falls to lead to death, either. Falling from just 30 feet above the ground can be fatal.
If you work on a wind farm in Houston, Texas, this is a daily risk you have to deal with. Climbing safety is not something that you can take for granted. All you need is a bit of precaution and an extra few minutes of prep to avoid these dangers.
In this guide, we’ll discuss some climbing safety tips to keep in mind when you next go to work.
Safety Precautions at Your Wind Farm Workplace
Before we go over some of the things you can do to protect yourself, let’s discuss necessary safety precautions. Your wind farm must adhere to OSHA and other safety regulations. Failure to do so puts your life at risk unnecessarily.
If you see lapses in the following, you should not continue working until they are fixed. Below are some of the requirements that must exist before you should start your work.
First Aid and Personnel Trained in First Aid Must Be On-Site
It’s not enough to have a first aid kit or someone ready to drive you to the hospital. Wind farms tend to be isolated, making injuries a greater risk since you cannot get immediate treatment. Fortunately, fall injuries tend to be predictable, and the right sort of aid can mitigate long-term damage.
Any time that you and your co-workers are performing work on a wind turbine, you should have at least one qualified first aid individual. This person should be on-site, ready to assist in the event something goes wrong. If this person does not show up or shows up late, it’s a bad idea to begin work without them.
However, construction regulations are a bit stricter. If you are constructing a wind turbine at a farm, then there should be no less than two of these individuals.
All workers, regardless of function, should have some basic first-aid skills. This will be crucial, especially when the injured party is suspended far above the ground.
Talk to your supervisor about individual first-aid training. This won’t take long and will provide valuable experience for when disaster strikes.
If your company is not practicing the highest safety standards, then an accident may happen. You may then need to contact a workplace accident attorney.
Comprehensive Risk Management
Risk management entails not only education but prevention of any potential risks. Staff should educate you on ways to avoid or mitigate your risk.
A site manager should conduct regular assessments of different working conditions. These assessments must determine if it is safe to continue working on-site and if there are any site-specific risks. Sometimes your unique working situation may create risks that aren’t common at other sites.
Mandatory PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
PPE is not optional. PPE can and will save your life in the event a line breaks or something worse happens. Further, you shouldn’t have to pay for your own PPE, rather the company should supply all of it.
Here are some examples of necessary PPE for average wind farm safety:
- Protective helmets
- Safety glasses
- Safety vest and footwear
- PFAS (personal fall arrest system)
- An industry-standard harness
Do not work unless you have the necessary equipment. You risk your life if your employer does not supply what you need to carry out your duties.
Regular Testing of Tools and Equipment
A certified expert must arrive on site to inspect, in person, all equipment and tools. This will often be a third-party contractor who performs this examination on a regular basis.
Tools and equipment may not show obvious signs of damage or imminent failure. Often only a professional can correctly identify these risks. Be wary of employers that don’t encourage these sorts of regular examinations.
A wind farm is particularly susceptible to sudden changes in the weather. It’s not just extreme wind speeds that could pose a threat to your life. An average thunderstorm could easily turn deadly.
Wind turbines are often the first target during a lightning storm. They are tall structures with plenty of metal, ideal for attracting static electricity.
Other conditions like rain and snow can make work difficult, increasing the risk of falls or injuries. Your employer should, at all times, monitor weather conditions. They should have all personnel grounded if these conditions lead to a situation where work is risky.
Turbine Safety Tips for Climbing up a Wind Turbine
Your safety is paramount, and it won’t take more than a few minutes to prepare. Take all precautions with the utmost severity. This is your life on the line, and you should protect yourself no matter what your employer says.
Make Sure Your Harness Is Secure and in Good Condition
Your full-body harness is your lifeline against any potential accidents. Harnesses can arrest your fall and reduce the damage you take during a fall. When you put on your harness before a workday, keep these things in mind:
- Make sure your harness is not too tight, but not too loose
- Make sure all the buckles and straps do not come loose
- Check the harness for any tears or loose threads
- Ensure that the harness does not constrict any sensitive areas, clothing, or items in pockets
- Be sure that the harness is not wet, or the material is not too stiff
- Avoid using harnesses that show obvious signs of wear, or seem threadbare
Check Your Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS)
Both you and a certified contractor should inspect the PFAS for damage or incomplete functionality. This system is responsible for slowing and stopping your fall. Even if you do not hit the ground or any obstructions, the whiplash and sudden stop can hurt you.
Your PFAS needs to give you a slow and gentle stop. If it’s not in full working condition, you should not continue.
Never Climb Unless You Have Attached Your Carabiners
Carabiner clips are incredibly durable and can hold the entire weight of the human body. However, redundancy is key. During many segments of your climb, you can and should have two or more carabiner clips attached.
Further, in most cases, you should always have at least one attached. When you are moving up the ladder, for example, and need to attach to the next segment. Make sure that you have one attached while you attach the second redundant carabiner.
This goes double for ladder safety.
Practice Proper Belaying Safety
Climbing is all about communication with your belay partner. This person is responsible for feeding you rope, cutting off slack, and helping to stop falls.
Communicate exactly as you were trained to do. Ask your partner for clear verification that they have secured your climb. Alert them when you are going to climb and when you will belay.
Full and complete communication keeps them in the loop. They can advise against poor decisions and keep you safe.
Have Full Situational Awareness at All Times
It’s up to you to pay attention to your surroundings, even when your partners are communicating. Falls from a turbine are especially dangerous because there are a lot of protrusions along the way. Hitting even just one protrusion could lead to serious injuries.
As you climb, be very wary of everything in your surroundings. Take note of things to your co-workers, even if you believe they have seen them. Like with belaying, maintain a constant line of verbal communication–and confirm you have received each message.
Pay attention to the wind, as well. Avoid making big transitions when there is a big gust of wind. Take note of wind speed and make movements in accordance with it.
What Do You Do in the Event of an Accident?
Accidents can happen even when you follow all of the safety regulations. But do not assume that your company will do good by you. Your first step, no matter what, should be to call a wind turbine lawyer.
Think about this from the company’s perspective. They have every incentive to mitigate their liability. Employee injuries are a huge loss when it comes to medical bills, internal investigations, and lost work.
If you go through the proper channels, there’s a good chance they will attempt to shortchange you. This may come in the form of blaming you for the injuries. Or, they could delay compensation in a lengthy internal investigation–or much worse.
Lawyers who specialize in wind farm safety can fight your case for you. They can ensure not only that your employer compensates you, but that the compensation is fair and complete. They can prevent punitive actions that come as a result of your injury.
Speak to Morgan Legal Group
If you work at a wind farm in Houston, Texas, then you risk your life on a daily basis. Falls are one of the most common injuries, and can often prove to be debilitating, life-changing events. Practice safety and use equipment that has undergone inspection, but seek legal help if an injury ever does happen.