ELGIN, Illinois– On September 11-13, 2012, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) held a training program for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Thirty-seven attendees of the program were trained to climb the ladder structure of a wind turbine and perform self-rescue. They were able to access a Nacelle, the cover housing that contains all of the generating components in a wind turbine to develop a better understanding of how a wind turbine operates.
The training program was held at the Suzlon training facility in Elgin, IL, a state-of-the-art technician training facility located 40 minutes west of Chicago that provides educational and training support to technicians in the North and South American markets. The site is the only facility in the Americas to offer a fully-operational wind turbine dedicated exclusively to training purposes.
Trainers from Tech Safety Lines, UpWind Solutions, and Rope Partners assisted in the program.
“Trainees went through a rigorous 6-station course to practice all essential elements of a successful rescue operation” said Michele Mihelic, manager of labor health and safety policy at AWEA. “They learned how to operate a harness from a standing and suspended position, how to escape from inside a turbine tower and the top of a nacelle, how to deploy a fall arrest lanyard and rigging and how to rescue incapacitated victims on a fixed ladder.”
Seven attendees were non-climbers who were able to visit an Invenergy power generation facility, the Grand Ridge Wind project in Marseilles, IL. All of the 44 attendees were able to listen to various presentations from NextEra Energy, Edison Mission Energy, Suzlon, EDPRenewables, UpWind Solutions, and Wanzek. They had an opportunity to listen first hand day to day activities from wind technicians who work on wind turbine generators daily.
The training program is part of an official Alliance between OSHA and AWEA that was signed into effect in August 2011 at the U.S. Department of Labor. Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. David Michaels, PhD, MPH, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, said:
“I am confident that our Alliance with AWEA will further OSHA’s mission to ensure that wind energy workers are protected from preventable injuries and death.”
“AWEA and its members pride themselves on constant improvement—most importantly, in the realm of worker safety and health,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. "We are pleased to be able to provide OSHA with this first-of-its-kind inside look at a new and emerging industry, and we look forward to more such joint trainings in the future.”
The training program was held at Suzlon’s training facility in Elgin, IL with trainers from Tech Safety Lines (owners Diane Waghorne and Brent Wise), who also had assistance from UpWind Solutions (Brian Page) and Rope Partners (Jonathan Wiley and Dave Granger). The training program was developed from AWEA’s Alliance members to provide OSHA with an introduction into the wind energy industry.
The three-day training program was developed under the AWEA-OSHA National Alliance in coordination with OSHA’s National Office, OSHA Wind Task Force leads – Brian Sturtecky, Area Director Jacksonville, FL, Region IV OSHA; Thomas Bielema, Area Director Peoria, IL, Region V OSHA, and AWEA’s manager of labor, health, and safety policy, Michele Myers Mihelic.