What are the Hazards Presented by Wind Turbines in Texas?
Did you know that wind energy kills humans each year?
Harnessing the wind’s energy requires the labor of thousands of people. These jobs are prolific, but they can also be quite hazardous. This is why all businesses in this industry must be aware of turbine safety.
Over 45,000 new wind turbines got installed in 2012, and thousands more were already operational. Since turbines are becoming more popular, wind farm jobs are demanding. Let’s look at the top wind turbine hazards to ensure safety in wind energy in Houston, Texas.
What Is a Wind Turbine?
A wind turbine creates electricity by utilizing the power of the wind. This wind generates electricity that powers many different cities across the globe.
A turbine’s blades look similar to airplane propellers. These blades spin around a rotor, spinning a generator that produced power.
In the United States, there are many different types of geographical variations that affect wind flow patterns. Humans utilize this wind flow, or motion energy, for a variety of activities. These activities include sailing, kite flying, and even electricity generation.
Both “wind energy” and “wind power” refer to the method of using the wind to produce electrical energy. This mechanical energy gets transformed into electricity using a generator.
The rotor blades of a wind turbine convert wind energy into electricity. They do this by using aerodynamic force. The air pressure on one side of the blade falls as wind passes across it.
Both lift and drag get produced by the different air pressure on the blade’s two sides. The rotor spins because the force of the lift is greater than the force of the drag.
If the generator is a direct drive turbine, the rotor connects to it directly. Electricity gets produced as a result of the conversion of aerodynamic force into generator rotation.
Falling is one of the main wind turbine risks. There are safety measures in place and wearing protective equipment is always necessary, but the risk is still very real. Mechanical failures and human error cannot get predicted.
Despite the fact that falls can happen at any time, installing the turbine poses the greatest risk. To make sure everything is in place, workers must carefully ascend; if they don’t properly attach themselves to the turbine, one careless step may spell tragedy.
The fact that a fall doesn’t always mean falling to the earth is something that many people overlook. Slipping down a ledge or ladder can still be highly dangerous, even with the right harnesses and personal protection gear. The workers may sustain whiplash or even break bones as the harness system catches them.
Employees should always make sure their harnesses and fall-prevention equipment are being used appropriately to reduce any risk of falling. Reduce the slack in the lines as much as you can to make sure that any falls that do occur are as safe as possible.
Given the enormous amount of electricity that wind turbines can generate, it should come as no surprise that electrocution is a serious danger to consider when considering wind turbine safety.
For instance, staff members who are working directly with electrical equipment must take every precaution to guarantee that electrical generation has stopped.
A wonderful technique to promote safety is by utilizing a personalized version of the lock-out tag-out system. In order to prevent the turbine’s blades from spinning and producing power, it disengages.
It may be possible to prevent the controls from being turned back on while the electrical equipment is being repaired by installing some form of lock on them.
Keep in mind that the wind turbine has electrical equipment all around it, including close to the ground, so make sure every employee is aware of this danger.
The possibility of a fire starting is another risk associated with these turbines.
A fire may develop as a result of electrical component overload, lightning striking the turbine, or even friction if the rotating blades are not adequately greased. It may be quite challenging for a worker to escape if they are up on a turbine when a fire starts.
Fires on wind turbines are a serious “green jobs hazard,” according to OSHA, therefore it’s crucial to be aware of this risk. Fire safety should always be a top priority whether working on or close to any wind turbine. Whenever possible, it should be done to give the workers a quick fall tool (such as parachutes or an emergency drop line).
The final concern that needs to be discussed is being struck by the wind turbine’s moving elements. Although relatively large, these turbines also rotate smaller components within the turbine to produce power. A worker could get fatal or very serious injuries if they are struck by a moving blade, piece of equipment, or anything else.
A person’s clothing or equipment could also become stuck while they are working on the gears or other locations, drawing them in or making them unbalanced. It’s crucial to teach workers to keep an eye out for any moving pieces.
Marking off any areas with moving parts is one approach to reduce this risk. One simple method for doing this is to use floor marking tape. When done correctly, it will warn workers of any potential moving parts, even if those parts are not actually moving.
Tight, Confined Spaces
The majority of people never even mention limited spaces as a risk when discussing wind turbine safety. However, the truth is that there are four places where employees can be confined while on the wind turbine.
The turbine’s vertical tower is relatively massive, but it is also constrained. If an employee must enter this space to finish a repair or carry out an installation task, they risk being stuck or suffering serious harm.
The actual electrical components of the turbine are housed in the nacelle. Workers must frequently enter to troubleshoot problems, and they risk getting stranded or even electrocuting themselves. In the event of a fire, the workers may experience serious problems in this region due to the smoke.
The hub, which connects to the nacelle, is a restricted space where workers may be in danger of becoming stuck. In order to maintain or repair the blades, personnel may need to access the hub where the blades attach. This is seen as a limited space as well.
These cramped quarters can provide a serious risk, whether during the original construction of the wind turbine or when performing maintenance on them. Nevertheless, because they are operating such enormous devices, even personnel frequently forget that these are limited areas.
In light of this, it could be a good idea to utilize an industrial label printer to make warning labels that can be adhered to each of these four locations.
Injuries Associated With Wind Turbines
Accidents that cause workers to sustain mild to serious injuries can happen when a wind turbine operation is compromised or is impacted by unidentified factors that make the operation unsafe. Numerous wind turbine accidents that caused harm or death are documented by the Department of Occupational Health and Safety.
Injury sustained when operating a wind turbine is frequently serious and occasionally deadly due to the height, complexity, and components of a wind turbine. These injuries may consist of:
- Missing limbs
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Partial or total paralysis
- Ligament tears
Additionally, sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, dizziness, vertigo, and nausea problems have been reported by those who work with turbines. When you hear ringing or other disturbances in one or both of your ears, it’s called tinnitus. Other people typically cannot hear the sounds you hear when you have tinnitus since it is not caused by an outside sound.
Did you know that other people than just workers get hurt as a result of wind turbines? When pieces of equipment fall or when victims touch electrical systems, accidents happen.
Be Aware of These Wind Turbine Hazards in Houston, Texas
Even though this industry is expanding quickly and work must be completed as quickly as possible, safety must always come first.
Make sure you are aware of these wind turbine hazards to keep everyone safe when working on or around these massive windmills, whether you’re constructing brand-new turbines, maintaining existing ones, or doing any other work.
Have you been injured on a wind farm in Houston, Texas? Click here to check out our wind turbine accident attorneys to find an injury lawyer near me.