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American Society of Safety Professionals’ industry consensus standard, ANSI/ASSP A10.21 – 2018 Safety Requirements for Safe Construction and Demolition of Wind Generation/Turbine Facilities, is the first standard to identify and address hazards specific to wind turbine construction. It includes nearly a dozen appendices that provide additional consideration and guidance for hazards that vary between projects, turbines and geographical areas. 

The new A10.21 standard starts by requiring a site hazard identification prior to construction commencing. It establishes the general contractor as the responsible party for site hazard identification assessment. This is because the general contractor is usually one of the first entities on site able to assess the various challenges/concerns such as: geography, utilities, environmental, etc. This assessment is usually done by driving the project site and identifying GPS coordinates of specific challenges. 

A10.21 identifies additional A10 standards that should be considered during the site assessment (Appendix A1 – Recommended Topics to Evaluate in a Hazard Identification and Assessment Program). These topics are organized into different work activities, including: General Activities, Foundation Construction Activities, Wind Turbine Erection Activities, etc.

The standard then moves into the requirements for creating a site-specific plan. The first step here is understanding the typical and unique hazards associated with the work location. A10.21 identifies and addresses typical hazards in sections 3.10 – 3.12 and sections 4.1 - 4.3. These “typical hazards” are hazards that are almost always present on wind energy construction sites. These are the consistent ones to address, as there’s minimal variance between them.

Unique hazards, including working in remote locations, are best addressed through the creation and implementation of a site-specific plan. Section 4.3.1.1 provides a few examples of hazards employers need to consider when creating their site-specific plan; but this is not a comprehensive list of wind construction hazards.

Each project location provides different hazards and challenges that are difficult to quantify. For example, one project may have hundreds of unmarked private utility lines versus another that has a railroad going through the center of the project boundaries with 100+ trains. The physical and mental exercise of assessing each project is a must. Often this assessment is only effective through in-depth research of the project location, terrain and environment. Even then, the hazards and challenges can be missed. The most effective method of understanding a project’s unique hazards is by physically visiting the project site.

Once the project specific hazards are addressed, A10.21 requires contractors to evaluate each turbine’s design to understand and address the respective hazards. Section 4.3.2.1 of the standard provides just a few considerations to evaluate including: international design variances, unguarded moving/rotating parks, electrical hazards, etc. Often, contractors partner with the original equipment manufacturer to understand these hazards prior to commencing construction. Additionally, contractors must consider the changing hazards, as the turbine proceed through the various stages of construction.

A10.21 also identifies hazards that are consistent between all turbine manufacturers, and addresses them in the following sections:

  • 3.10 – Working at Heights;
  • 3.11 – Escape and Rescue;
  • 3.12 – Weather;
  • 4.3.1.1 – Remote Site;
  • 4.3.1.3 – Logistics;
  • 4.3.2.1 – Wind Turbine Design;
  • 4.3.2.2 – Energization;
  • 4.3.3 - Crane Movement and Use; and
  • 4.3.4 – Rigging.

Finally, A10.21 requires that workers receive both a project orientation and “task-specific training.” Project orientation is where all project workers are informed of the hazards that they may encounter in the workplace. Included in this orientation are hazard recognition, avoidance and mitigation training. 

It’s here in the project orientation, where the contractor communicates and trains all project members to the hazards and corresponding mitigation plans outlined in the site-specific plan. The more comprehensive the site-specific plan, the more effective the project orientation and better trained project personnel and workers are.

In addition to the project orientation, A10.21 requires that workers are trained to hazards and safe work practices associated with their specific operation. These “task specific training topics” vary greatly depending on the phase of work and job assignment. Considering this, A10.21 recommends topics for task-specific training in Appendix A3 – Workforce Training Topics. 

A10.21 brings much needed attention to a specific construction sector that has been overlooked for years. It provides the foundation for an employer’s project safety program, and will continue to improve the wind construction industry for years to come. 

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