What practical advice does the G+ Global Offshore Wind DROPS Reliable Securing Booklet for Offshore Wind offer for a best practice approach to mitigate Dropped Object risk?
In June 2019, G+ Global Offshore Wind published its 2018 Incident Data Report which stated that in 2018, there were 66 reported dropped object incidents, representing a reduction of over 60% compared to 2017. Whether or not this conveys the full scale of drops in offshore wind is unknown given ongoing challenges in reporting.
This was closely followed by the publication of the Reliable Securing Booklet for offshore wind from G+ and DROPS. The publication presents an analysis of DROPS materials, tools and guidelines, identifying whether they are transferable for use in offshore wind, and outlining best practice mitigation techniques to tackle the threat of Dropped Objects in the industry.
This booklet is a step in the right direction. It is very positive to see the industry moving towards adopting many of the dropped object prevention best practices that have been tried and tested over many years in the oil and gas industry.
In offshore wind, Dropped Objects have historically been a somewhat overlooked health and safety issue. Recognising this, Dropsafe published ‘The Neglected Hazard’, reporting on the risk posed by Dropped Objects to the health and safety track record of the renewable energy industry. ‘The Neglected Hazard’ illustrates that Dropped Objects are an ever-present threat to safe and cost-effective project development and operations in offshore wind.
The G+ Reliable Securing Booklet for offshore wind includes a number of guidelines for the use of drops prevention technology such as barrier systems, tethering nets and pouches.
The booklet states:
Barrier systems are commonly installed across on- and offshore industrial sites. They attach to guardrailing upon elevated walkways, stairways and access ways of either permanent or temporary structures, preventing loose items falling from height.
Although this is a straightforward concept, there is a wide range of solutions on offer – ranging from flexible mesh netting to versatile plastic barrier systems – not all of which constitute a suitable long-term investment.
Most non-metal systems are subject to relatively swift degradation as a result of UV and chemical exposure, however the Dropsafe Barrier, made from high-grade polymer material, retains its impact resistance and structural integrity for a minimum of five years – backed by a 5-year warranty. Additionally, metal barriers are at a high risk of rust and corrosion in harsh offshore environments. While therefore the guidelines question the integrity of plastic barrier systems, Dropsafe would argue this must be weighed up directly against the comparative weaknesses of metal barriers.
Finding that there was an industry-wide lack of awareness about the long-term lifetime costs of drop prevention barrier solutions, Dropsafe published ‘Slipping Through the Cracks’. The white paper uses the safety barrier as a case study for how short-term equipment and installation costs for safety products might be outweighed by long-term maintenance and reinstallation expenditure.
The Dropsafe Barrier consists of robust high-grade polymer panels that are clipped along the inside of guardrailing such as those found on landing platforms around wind turbine towers, using a universal attachment system.
The solution has been engineered to tackle many of the common challenges experienced in harsh offshore environments, including increased corrosion resistance.
At the time of writing, the Dropsafe Barrier is the only DO barrier to have achieved Type Approval from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) under the DOPP+ certification scheme.
The G+ guide says:
In offshore environments, fixtures and structures are at risk of corroding and coming loose due to vibration and harsh weather conditions, enhancing the risk of a fixture falling from height.
Dropsafe Nets securely enclose and tether overhead fixtures such as lights, speakers and CCTV cameras, to prevent DOs falling from height and threatening the safety of personnel. Dropsafe has recently been contracted to provide 42 custom Dropsafe Nets to the Formosa 1 offshore wind farm in Taiwan.
Dropsafe have a range of Nets specifically for CCTV cameras, their design ensuring that the Dropped Object prevention net does not interfere with the camera lens or movement.
The Reliable Securing Booklet reports:
G+ suggests that pouches should always be used for radios and any other portable equipment without certified securing points.
The Dropsafe Pouch is a proven solution to preventing handheld object drops. The 316 stainless-steel mesh pouch, designed to prevent corrosion, can secure items and be attached to an engineer working at height.
There is still a large amount of work to be done to understand the scale of the risks of Dropped Objects and drive adoption of best practice prevention systems, especially in the frequency and transparency of Dropped Object incident reporting.
Formal recognition of the risks from Dropped Objects in offshore wind was made in 2014, ‘The Neglected Hazard’ detailed what a drop prevention strategy might look like for the renewable energy industry, and now mitigation guidelines have been published. Despite this, a centralised approach to incident reporting in offshore wind still has not been established. G+, IMCA and other organisations report different numbers and there is no standardised reporting method in place, which risks compromising the transparency of incident data.
The offshore wind industry must come together to meet the guidelines outlined by the G+ Reliable Securing Booklet with a best practice approach, proactively tackling the threat of Dropped Objects.
If you want to find out more about how to implement these guidelines in your offshore operations, download your copy of ‘The Neglected Hazard’ here.