As some of you know, the Dogger Bank Offshore Wind Farm recently won the Offshore Wind Health & Safety and Wellbeing award at the first ever Global Offshore Wind Awards by RenewableUK , for its “Safety by Design” initiative.

The teams were commended by the judges for the way health and safety was approached as an integral part of project planning and how the approach was the embodiment of best practice in the industry.

The “Safety by Design” initiative that won the award used operational experiences, past incidents and industry statistics to improve health and safety through design on Dogger Bank.

Working on this project and having such a significant impact has been a privilege for Wood Thilsted and we were delighted to be with Equinor and SSE to jointly accept the award. However, getting to this stage was no mean feat and involved a lot of hard work, determination, and willingness to innovate. The team challenged current industry standards and practices to present an optimised design solution that could be fabricated, installed, and operated in line with the O&M Team’s aspirations for years to come.

The design challenge for ‘step-free’ access was set to WT by the Equinor O&M team back in early 2020. During a lengthy workshop we collaborated working through initials ideas. Then it was back to the office to build upon early sketches from the whiteboard and fleshing them out into rounded design proposals that could be objectively compared against the standard ‘base-case’ design.

DoggerBank will have 100s of turbines, with a design life expectancy of >25 years, further offshore than any wind farm yet built. The G+ Wind Industry Incident Data revealed the huge scale of opportunity to improve the safety of the working environment for the people involved in operating the wind farm throughout that long operational life. The top four work processes with the highest potential for incidents and injuries were highlighted as lifting operations, manual handling, access/egress and routine maintenance.

With this in mind, we went through a process of optimisation to explore and test exactly what could be done to improve the health and safety and provide a solution that would prevent common incidents and accidents caused by current operational procedures and design approaches.

To improve accessibility to the WTG (Wind Turbine Generator), the main improvement and innovation for the design was the split-level platform, which is where all the offshore lifts and manual handling savings were made. O&M personnel will be able to drive powered trolleys directly between the SOV and the inside of the WTG tower, without having to stop for manual handling or craning of cargo on the External Working Platform (EWP). The design also avoids many of the common risks associated with dropped objects. On top of this, a concerted effort was also made to increase the number of access points on the EWP .

Through such design optimisation, this could result in the following potential improvements over the project lifetime: 1 million offshore lifts removed, manual handling of 20,000 tons over 1000 kilometres and removal of exposure to a 3-meter fall for 650 days.

The industry standard previously was to prioritise ease of fabrication and construction; the impact of this innovation was that it optimised the design to include operational H&S as well, having a huge impact on the safety of those working in the industry. All in all, an award-winning design, wouldn’t you agree?

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