It is estimated that by 2020 offshore wind energy will provide over 10% of the UK's electricity with billions of pounds of investment each year. As the offshore wind industry grows, so, potentially, does the risk of serious injury.

A recent study showed that the rate of recordable incidents (those injuries and near misses which must be recorded under health & safety law) when working with wind at sea is 4.55 per million hours worked. For the rest of the oil and gas industry, that rate is around 0.9 per million hours worked.

The offshore wind industry is often compared to offshore oil and gas, and there has been some criticism that the offshore wind industry has yet to reach the same health and safety levels that the oil and gas industry currently operates to.

Whilst there has been an improvement in incident numbers, the figures remain high compared to the other offshore industries. Part of the issue is that oil and gas sectors have become more health and safety focussed and have advanced incentives and processes in place following high-profile accidents. The offshore wind industry is still fairly new compared to oil and gas but can perhaps learn from that sector.

The industry, however, is clearly taking the issue seriously. G+, a health and safety organisation set up by a number of leaders in offshore wind, provides amongst other things, guidelines on best practice, health and safety annual statistics and workshops on safe design. Further, the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub, the primary co-ordinator in the UK for innovation in the sector, announced this year that it will now include health & safety criteria when identifying priorities to drive forward the offshore wind industry.


Emma Dyson