Although wind energy is a relatively new employment sector in Georgia, workers on wind farms face many occupational hazards. If you are a member of a wind turbine maintenance or electrical crew, you will likely spend significant parts of your days working at dangerous heights. Did you know that you can refuse to work without the necessary personal protective equipment?
Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not established specific safety standards for the wind energy sector, the general regulations for various industries also apply to wind farms. Your job on a turbine will expose you to risks of slipping, falling, struck by objects and many other hazards common to other industries. Strong winds will exacerbate the dangers of your job.
OSHA's best practices and regulations also apply to wind farms. Different stages of your job will pose different hazards, and your employer must provide the appropriate personal protective equipment and safety training to keep you and your co-workers safe during the following stages:
- Installation: Your employer must provide guardrail systems during the installation stage of a turbine, along with personal fall protection or safety nets to arrest falls. You must also receive adequate training in the practicalities of fall prevention and techniques to keep you safe in the event of a fall.
- Maintenance: Maintenance of wind turbines falls under the same safety standards as construction work. Elevated work areas from 4 feet and higher must have guardrails, but rails are often impractical on wind turbines, in which cases fall arrest harnesses or safety nets will suffice.
- Ladders: Only fixed ladders are safe, and those that exceed 24 feet require additional protection like landing and rest platforms along with fall arrest systems.
Whenever workers operate at heights, those moving about below will be at risk of being struck by dropped tools. Not only does this require workers to make hazardous climbs up and down the towers to retrieve them, but dropped tools can cause serious or even fatal injuries to others. While nets and toeboards are the solutions on construction sites, they are impractical on wind turbines, where tool belts and tethering tools are more suitable prevention techniques.
Risks posed by human factors
Many lives are lost because workers become complacent after doing the same job for some time without problems. This is a dangerous state of mind that can put your life on the line. If your boss sets unrealistic deadlines, you might want to rush to get the jobs done. It could lead to fatigue, which is a breeding ground for mistakes when you overlook crucial details.
Did a work-related injury send you to the hospital?
Regardless of whether you suffered only bruises and scrapes or a life-threatening injury in an on-the-job accident, you might be eligible for financial assistance. An attorney who has experience in dealing with the Georgia workers' compensation insurance system can assist with the legal and administrative steps of the benefits claims process. You will likely receive compensation to cover your medical expenses along with a financial package to make up for lost wages.