Managing Occupational Risks in the Renewable Energy Sector

According to recent estimates, the renewable energy sector employs 12 million people worldwide. Keeping workers safe is vital in any industry but as the use of clean energies rapidly expands around the globe, more workers are putting themselves at risk climbing wind turbines, maintaining remote solar panels and dealing with flammable biofuels. By identifying and managing the risks involved, a range of safety interventions can be used to reduce the risk of injury to workers.

drone at a wind-farm

Reducing The Risks of Wind Turbine Maintenance

As more wind turbines are constructed, the number of accidents associated with their maintenance and repair has also risen. When a worker is injured on site, a personal injury lawyer will investigate the circumstances and potential causes of the accident. As well as helping to secure appropriate compensation for injured workers, the information gathered can be used to prevent similar accidents happening again.

To further limit the risks to turbine workers, drones are regularly used to carry out hazardous and labor-intensive jobs including the inspection of turbine blades. Drones can now be equipped with extra tools such as AI which enables them to store, analyze and report the data they collect to wind farm managers.

Mitigating the Dangers of Solar Panel Installation

Due to their placement on high roofs and in remote locations, solar energy systems also pose a risk to workers when they are installing, maintaining and repairing solar panels. Taking into account the amount of power generated, working with solar energy is three times more hazardous than wind power and results in up to 150 deaths around the world each year. Risks include exposure to high temperatures, electric shocks and falls, all of which are increased if work has to be carried out in adverse weather conditions.

solar panels pigeon issue

To mitigate these risks, safety interventions to mitigate these risks can include the increased use of specially designed training modules, the automation of certain tasks and changes in shift patterns to avoid fatigue amongst workers.

Reducing Exposure to Hazards in BioFuel Production

While biofuels produced from renewable resources such as plant biomass and vegetable oils are safe to use, they can be dangerous to manufacture. They are highly flammable and can produce potentially hazardous chemical reactions.  These can result in burns and other  injuries caused by exposure to fire, chemicals or explosions. Manufacturers of biofuels should follow the standard safety guidelines for working with chemicals which include storing products correctly, providing adequate personal protection equipment to workers and training them to handle hazardous substances safely.

hazards of biofuel production

As many biofuel businesses are small, in the US they can access consultation services from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration which will give them advice on programs to protect workers and what to do in the event of an emergency.

Bottom Line

As more workers are employed by the renewable industry, the numbers of occupational accidents and injuries are likely to rise. By identifying and managing risks as they become known, safety interventions can be implemented promptly.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the CEO of BioEnergy Consult, and an international consultant, advisor and trainer with expertise in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection and resource conservation. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biogas technology, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. Salman has participated in numerous national and international conferences all over the world. He is a prolific environmental journalist, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. In addition, he is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability through his blogs and portals. Salman can be reached at salman@bioenergyconsult.com or salman@cleantechloops.com.
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