Application field: 
Wind energy

The Sky’s the Limit
with Renewable Energy

 

Safety in and on Wind Turbines

Within the scope of the energy revolution, wind power is a rapidly growing field worldwide and therefore offers a high number of jobs. With a hub height of up to 160 m, wind turbines tower high into the sky. Whether onshore or offshore, installation engineers have to be trained in a variety of situations and be able to safely move around and perform rescues on/in the wind turbines (e.g. through training from the Global Wind Organization, GWO). 


 

What makes wind turbines special is that the engineers generally work alone. The local fire department is not usually prepared or equipped for a rescue in a wind turbine.

Transfer from other areas

Here at EDELRID, we have many years of experience in industrial climbing and even offer sophisticated, professional personal fall protection equipment for safely and comfortably working on wind turbines. EDELRID developments such as a fail-safe energy absorber or the indicator tape in the webbing further enhance safety.

    In all cases—whether or not a wind turbine has a service lift—users must wear a protective helmet and a fall arrest harness with a retaining rope and a lanyard. They must also carry a rescue device for rescue and evacuation purposes. A first aid kit, a headlamp, and gloves are furthermore recommended when working on a wind turbine. The full body harness should have a climbing protection eyelet (EN 361 in conjunction with EN 353-1) to enable optimum attachment to the climbing protection system. A full body harness is required even if using the service lift as it must be possible to descend via the ladder if there is a fault with the lift or to evacuate using the rescue device.

    For standard work in the basement, tower, hub, blade roots, and nacelle as well as on the nacelle roof, personal fall protection equipment generally suffices. All of these work areas have standardized anchor and rescue points or a ladder with appropriate climbing protection systems. Other work areas that can only be reached ‘from a rope’ are the wind turbine’s blades and areas in and on the tower. Rope access equipment and appropriate FISAT or IRATA training are required for these.

    Rescues in wind turbines

    Work in wind turbines presents certain challenges. These are compounded by narrow access areas and changing weather conditions. This means that wind turbine engineers also have to be experts in rescues and regularly train for them.

    Companies’ rescue procedures usually require team members to be able to lower someone who has been injured in a fall down to the next platform as a minimum. This should minimize the time spent hanging freely in a harness and, in particular, the risk of hanging trauma. Further measures can then be implemented on the platform and a decision on how to proceed can be made in consultation with the emergency services. Depending on the situation, a height rescue unit may be able to take over the rescue from here. 

    If the wind turbine has to be evacuated, e.g. in the event of a fire, the engineers must be able to descend down the inside or the outside of the tower. An emergency plan at the bottom of the tower indicates the relevant emergency escape routes and anchor points for evacuation using a rescue device. 

    In all of these rescue situations, the use of a lifting rescue device is recommended. This makes it possible to simply and reliably deal with various situations such as ladder rescues, basement rescues, or evacuations.