Offshore, Onshore, Project Development

Why We Should Make Wind Turbine Technician Safety a Global Priority

Issue 3 and Volume 21.

Last year nearly 44,000 wind turbine technicians around the world completed or refreshed their standardized basic safety and technical training and early indications suggest at least 20 percent more will do so in 2018.

Why does this matter? Put simply, we need standardization.

GWO began developing training standards in 2012 when our members realized they were doing broadly the same basic safety training, but with enough small differences that a wind tech needed to start from scratch every time s/he began a new contract.

The cost of energy was higher in 2012 than today, but GWO has always had the same objective: ensure basic, quality wind technician safety training is available anywhere in the world.

Today, standardization of training is meaningful for an increasing number of players. Boardrooms need a safer and more productive workforce, and state and federal legislators need a best-practice guide on which the industry agrees so they can move forward with ambitious onshore and offshore wind growth plans.

By investing in a framework of universal competencies, OEMs and operators keep their recruits up to speed on a standardized set of skills, allowing everyone to get on with the job at hand sooner rather than later.

By adopting GWO standards, our members can improve the overall efficiency of their training programs. Anecdotal evidence suggests this is equivalent to the time spent by technicians on their previous basic safety and technical programs. For global sub-contractors, the frequency of avoided duplication is much higher, as they tend to have more mobility across installation and service sites.

Assuming an average of one annual avoided training day per GWO-certified training day, GWO certified techs were available for an additional 120,000+ days of work in 2017. Add the value of a day’s work, the de-duplication of training, and a locally sourced, standardized product and the value of industry collaboration could be as high as $300M per year.

Training standards are rising on the corporate agenda. Our membership of health, safety and training leaders from many of the world’s largest O&Ms are instructed at board level to engage in standard development, driving forward an agenda that will see further training added to the GWO portfolio in 2018 and beyond. We all know that there are enough differences between countries already. Why do the methods used to keep people safe have to be yet another difference?

Jakob Lau Holst is the CEO of the Global Wind Organization

Lead image credit: Walter Baxter | Wikimedia Commons