The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) will begin an inspection campaign today (Monday, October 16) of renewable energy installations, including wind farms, solar farms, and anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities.
This is the first inspection of its kind undertaken by the HSA, with the authority saying that the campaign is due to the rapid growth in the renewable energy industry.
The HSA is foreseeing continued growth in this industry in the coming years, in line with targets for renewable energy growth set out in the Climate Action Plan.
The HSA will focus on a number key hazards during the inspection campaign, including:
- Lifting operations;
- Working at height;
- Electrical safety;
- Gas safety;
- Emergency response plans.
The HSA advises employers in the sector to ensure a safe working environment by carrying out risk assessments for work activities and making sure all work is properly planned, organised, and carried out by a competent person.
The authority also advised on choosing the right work equipment and ensuring all those working and visiting sites understand the risks and comply with safety systems.
Commenting on the campaign, HSA senior inspector Greg Beechinor said: “Although this is a relatively new and growing industry, renewable energy work sites are like any other work site in Ireland and should have health and safety as a high priority.
“The authority urges employers to carry out the appropriate risk assessments and identify health and safety hazards.
“Appropriate control measures should be identified and implemented in consultation with workers. Taking these necessary steps can prevent serious or fatal injury,” Beechinor said.
The HSA said that wind and solar farms, once they are operational and construction has been completed, are considered workplaces.
According to the authority, any persons who have control to any extent over the wind or solar farm have duties to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that these work sites do not pose a risk to those working there or to anyone not employed there but who may have access to these sites.
Eibhlin O’Leary, programme manager for occupational safety at the HSA, commented: “The HSA will be expanding on its guidance around renewable energy and look forward to working with key stakeholder groups in this area to achieve a safe working environment for all workers in this industry.”