HSA inspection campaign focuses on Irish renewable energy installations

The HSA has launched an inspection campaign, targeting Irish renewable energy installations including wind farms, solar farms and anaerobic digestion facilities.

This is the first inspection campaign of its kind to be carried out by the Authority due to a rapid growth in the renewable energy industry. As the Climate Action Plan target of up to 80% renewable electricity by 2030 is being delivered on, there will be continued growth in renewable energy industry across Ireland in coming years.

During the inspection campaign HSA inspectors will focus on key hazards including:

  • excavations,
  • lifting operations,
  • working at height
  • electrical safety,
  • gas safety, and
  • emergency response plans.

To ensure a safe working environment for workers, employers in renewable energy industry should:

  • carry out risk assessments for work activities and make sure all work is properly planned, organised and carried out by a competent person,
  • chose the right work equipment including PPE, and
  • ensure all those working and visiting sites understand the risks and comply with safety systems.

Greg Beechinor, Senior Inspector, at the HSA said: “Although this is a relatively new and growing industry, renewable energy work sites are like any other work site in Ireland and should have health and safety as a high priority. The Authority urges employers to carry out the appropriate risk assessments and identify health and safety hazards. Appropriate control measures should be identified and implemented in consultation with workers. Taking these necessary steps can prevent serious or fatal injury.”

At present, by far the largest amount of renewable energy is harnessed from the wind farms. Wind and solar farms, once up and running and construction work has been completed, are still considered a workplace. All persons who have control to any extent over the wind or solar farm have duties to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that these work sites do not pose a risk to those working there or to anyone not employed there but may have access to these sites.

Eibhlin O’Leary, Programme Manager, Occupational Safety at the HSA said: “The HSA will be expanding on its guidance around renewable energy and look forward to working with key stakeholder groups in this area to achieve a safe working environment for all workers in this industry.”

For further information on Health and Safety in the Renewable Sector visit the HSA website.