United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Guidance for a safer sector

UK: As the national trade association, RenewableUK takes an active lead in championing health and safety for the sector. Significant progress has been made in the past year, since the association took control of the standards and approvals protocols for health and safety training within the wind energy and marine renewables sector.

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We have already developed a new accreditation and approval process that requires all training providers to show that their teaching is of the highest quality and that the delegates are safe.

Having consulted with the industry, we have issued a Work at Height and Rescue Training Standard, and have taken full account of the experience of the offshore sector to prepare a new training standard for vessel transfer. In addition, we are investigating the content and possible format of a basic safety standard or qualification that would ensure a common approach to industry-specific health and safety risks.

Much of 2011 will be focused on finalising these initiatives, in consultation with the industry, to ensure maximum awareness and uptake.

Investment in skills

While this progress represents a major step forward, we need to do a lot more, and investment in the safety and skills of the whole industry is essential if we are to create a safe and sustainable renewables sector. A major success story in this respect is the recent launch of the UK's Wind Turbine Technician Modern Apprenticeship, a three-year engineering qualification, and a first for the renewables industry.

RenewableUK will play a central facilitating role, however much of the innovation and drive will come from RenewableUK members and key stakeholders — companies that are at the sharp end of the industry and well placed to develop new standards. We will look at areas such as advanced technical training to address the specific risks of the sector and of technologies, such as wave and tidal. We will also consider in-house, bespoke and accredited training for supervisors, and leadership and behavioural safety training issues.

And, in view of the international dimension of the industry and the movement of operatives — especially across Europe — mutual recognition of equivalent training standards would offer many practical benefits to companies and employees alike. This does, however, present technical and potential legal challenges from particular requirements for each national jurisdiction.

While RenewableUK's primary focus is on ensuring that national standards and approvals systems are fit to meet UK legal and policy expectations, we will be open to working with any properly constituted body or group internationally to review the practicality of mutual recognition plans. In addition to content, the standard would also need to consider quality assurance, monitoring and governance arrangements to give the industry confidence in the value of any recognised plan.

Ultimately, it is working in partnership with other organisations that will lead to the common best-practice safety goal and, perhaps more importantly, a commitment to embedding health and safety into wider skills and education programmes.

Chris Streatfeild is director of health and safety, RenewableUK

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