AWEA and OSHA form Alliance to protect workers in the wind energy industry

Indicative of both wind power’s continued maturation and the importance the industry places on the safety of its greatest asset, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) entered into an official Alliance to further protect the health and safety of the wind farm industry’s workers.

AWEA and OSHA marked the launch of the Alliance, which culminates more than a year-and-a-half of collaborative development, with a signing ceremony today at the Department of Labor building. On hand to participate in the ceremony were David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, along with AWEA’s Rob Gramlich, Senior Vice President of Public Policy; Tom Vinson, Senior Director of Federal Regulatory Affairs; and Michele Myers Mihelic, Manager of Labor, Health, and Safety Policy.

"AWEA and its members pride themselves on constant improvement—most importantly, in the realm of worker safety and health. Our Alliance with OSHA will help ensure that the men and women who build, deploy and maintain our superb product stay safe on the job," said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. "We thank OSHA for working with us toward this goal of utmost importance, and we look forward to ongoing collaboration with them."

Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. OSHA and the groups work together to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. OSHA and Alliance participants work together to educate and lead the nation’s employers and their employees in improving and advancing workplace safety and health. Alliance Program participants do not receive exemptions from OSHA programmed inspections.

AWEA’s goals and objectives for the Alliance will be to

–develop consensus within the wind turbines industry, and work with OSHA, to standardize safety and health practices;

–improve industry safety and health processes;

–develop and maintain an open line of communication with OSHA to ensure safety practices;

–assist OSHA in understanding the safety and health issues within the wind industry;

–ensure consistent application of safety compliance and enforcement initiatives across the country; and,

–streamline safety and health practices for consistency across OSHA regions as well as across the industry.

The process to form an AWEA-OSHA Alliance began back in 2009, when the AWEA Safety Committee discussed establishing an official relationship with OSHA.

"The Alliance with OSHA is just one step AWEA and the industry are taking to ensure that wind energy workers are being protected, but it is an highly significant one," said Michele Myers Mihelic. "Worker safety is paramount, and AWEA and its Safety Committee look forward to partnering with OSHA as part of a multi-pronged effort toward constant improvement in this area."

Recognizing the importance of worker safety and health initiatives within the industry, AWEA created the Health and Safety Committee several years ago. The committee is diligent in ensuring and improving the industry’s safety and health programs.

Already, wind power industry workers at all levels are put through rigorous training programs to ensure a culture of worker safety and health. Training covers such areas as emergency response and rescue, electrical safety (high voltage, low voltage, arc flash, lock-out-tag-out, etc.), and working at heights, to name just a few.