Wind Farm Injuries: How to Reduce the Likelihood of Accidents on Wind Farms
There are nearly 80,000 wind turbines in the US, providing businesses and residents with a green alternative to common energy sources. We’re in desperate need of alternative energy sources, and thousands of contractors are working to make this possible.
As positive as wind farms are for our future, they can seriously threaten the people who build and maintain them. There are countless examples of preventable injuries and fatalities occurring on both on-shore and off-shore wind farms.
Read on to learn more about wind farm safety and what to do when you’ve been injured in a wind farm accident.
Preventing Wind Farm Falls
Of the most common wind farm accidents, accidents caused by falls tend to be in the lead. Making sure that you have the right training and equipment can help. Let’s take a closer look at these two key steps to reducing fall-related wind farm injuries.
Receive Proper Training
If you haven’t received adequate training, you should not be climbing ladders, using cranes, or working in conditions that could lead to a fall. If you haven’t received proper training, there’s a good chance that your coworkers haven’t, either. While most wind farms aren’t unionized, you can still come together to demand better training (and document any resistance or refusals you are met with).
Use Safety Equipment
All wind farm workers that have to work higher than six feet off the ground should have access to the following:
- guard rails
- safety net systems
- personal fall arrest systems
If your employer provides you with these, ensure that you are using them at all times. Even if you’re only going up for a few minutes, do not neglect the appropriate safety equipment.
Practicing Proper Crane Safety
When constructing or maintaining wind turbines, employees often need cranes to reach heights that ladders can’t access. While useful, cranes present quite a few hazards that all employees should be aware of. Let’s take a look at the three things you can do to improve your crane safety.
Inspect Cranes Before Each Use
Even when manufactured properly, the individual parts that keep a crane functioning can give out over time, and one minor malfunction can lead to an injury or fatality. Inspect cranes before each use, even if you’ve already used them earlier in your shift.
Don’t Use a Crane If You Aren’t Licensed
Do not operate a crane if you haven’t received the proper training and/or licensing. Document the incident if your employer asks you to operate a crane regardless of your lack of qualifications.
Practice General Crane Safety
Crane safety is required to protect people operating a crane, working in the basket, and below. Before using a crane, make sure that:
- the crane is situated on flat, stable ground
- the crane’s swing radius has been barricaded off and no workers are working below the crane’s swing radius
- any overhead power lines are accounted for and that the crane will not come within ten feet of them
These rules are standard, and failing to meet them can count as negligence on your part.
Additional Safety Precautions to Take on a Wind Farm
A number of things can go awry when working on a wind farm, from slip-and-fall accidents to fires to faulty equipment. That’s what makes working on a wind farm one of the most dangerous jobs in the energy sector. Let’s take a look at additional tips that can increase your safety on the job.
Protect Your Ears
Working on a wind farm, particularly an off-shore wind farm, is a loud business. Unprotected exposure to high winds can lead to long-term or permanent hearing damage or loss. Make sure you wear the appropriate headgear to limit your noise exposure.
Keep a Fully Stocked First Aid Kit
Most wind farms are located in remote areas with limited access to medical care. All wind farms should be equipped with fully stocked, industry-appropriate first aid kits, and all employees should know how to use first aid kit supplies. Minor injuries like cuts and burns can become serious if not treated with precision and speed.
Wear Protective Clothing
In addition to appropriate headgear, you should always wear any protective gear that is designed for your role. All wind farm employees should wear non-slip shoes to avoid unnecessary slip-and-fall accidents. Most require rubber electrician gloves, arc-protection suits, face shields, and other fire-retardant gear.
Protect Your Respiratory System
Wind farms can produce harmful dust, gases, and toxic vapors. Long-term exposure to certain airborne substances, even at low levels, can lead to long-term health problems. Make sure you wear a respirator or similar form of PPE while on the job.
Beware of Confined Spaces
The vast majority of wind turbine maintenance occurs inside the turbine. This is not an ideal working condition for anyone who has claustrophobia, as these spaces are very confined. All employees should know how to exit these confined spaces quickly and safely to account for claustrophobia or dwindling oxygen.
What Should Victims of Wind Farm Injuries Do Next?
If you were already injured in a wind farm accident, you are probably wondering what to do next. Chances are, you meet the qualifications to file a personal injury claim against your employer or another at-fault party, but doing so will require that you follow certain steps. Let’s look at the three crucial steps after you’ve sustained a wind farm injury.
Document the Accident
Make sure that someone creates an accident report so that your injuries go on the record with your employers. However, don’t stop there. If possible, take photos and videos that capture the conditions that led to your accident, and ask others who witnessed the accident if they’d be willing to provide a statement of what they saw.
This is especially important if the accident resulted from your employer failing to follow protocol. They may try to leave these details out of their own report, making it appear as if the accident was your fault. However, failing to provide proper training, forcing employees to perform duties outside of their normal parameters, or failing to provide appropriate and well-inspected gear and equipment are all signs that your employer is at fault.
Receive Medical Attention
As soon as you can, receive medical attention. Even if your injury seems like it might resolve itself, it is crucial that you go to an emergency room, a specialist, or your primary care provider.
This is crucial for two reasons. The first is that many injuries that seem minor at first can develop into something serious and life-threatening if not treated. The second is that you will need thorough documentation of your wind farm injuries in order to put together a case against the at-fault party.
Contact an Experienced Wind Farm Attorney
Once you have received the medical attention you need, it’s time to contact a wind farm attorney. You may be entitled to more compensation than what your employer is offering, and in fact, you may need far more compensation to cover your medical bills, lost income, and more.
Working with an attorney is the best way to navigate filing a wind farm accident claim. An experienced attorney can establish who was at fault and help you to put together a compelling case against the at-fault party. Because you are also up against the statute of limitations, an attorney can take over the majority of the heavy lifting, allowing you more time and peace to recover.
Contact the Morgan Legal Group for Legal Representation
As an employee or contractor working in a dangerous industry, it’s up to you to follow the right protocol to prevent wind farm accidents. However, the high rate of wind farm injuries tells us that even careful employees can still get hurt. When you’ve been injured on the job, it’s time to get in contact with an experienced lawyer.
Morgan Legal Group is proud to represent the victims of wind farm accidents. You don’t deserve to have your entire life turned upside down because you were injured on the job. Contact us, and we’ll set you up with a free case consultation.