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The hidden risks: impact of early-stage decisions on safety and reliability

The unwanted trend

The renewable energy industry experiences a growing number of incidents during the construction and operations phases of the asset lifecycle.

The onshore wind health and safety statistics from SafetyOn show a total of 593 reported incidents in 2021 in the UK – an increase of 11.5% from 532 incidents in 2020.

There were a total of 225 high-potential incidents recorded in 2022 across all offshore wind farm sites globally, according to the G+ Global Offshore Wind incident data report. Compared to the 2021 data, the total number of high-potential incidents increased by 10 % from 204.

Is this really a problem?

The standard practice of evaluating overall incidents relative to total hours worked is widely practised. However, it’s crucial to recognise that although the upward trend in incidents may be slower than the rise in total hours worked, implying a statistical decline in overall incident rates, such an interpretation can be problematic. It fails to show the increased risk to life, which is not acceptable.

Although organisations strive to identify root causes, incident investigations often fail to trace back to the decisions made during the early stages of project development. Consequently, there is a lack of data available to elucidate the extent to which early-stage asset development processes and decisions—such as FEED, detailed design, planning, and commercial considerations, among others—contribute to the creation of unfavourable conditions that elevate risks to both asset integrity and occupational health and safety during construction and operational activities.

Identifying how early-stage asset development governance and decisions impact critical business and project metrics such as safety, quality, profitability, availability, and reliability will help raise awareness and help identify means to improve early-stage decision-making, which in turn will increase the project success rates and minimize overall risk.

We are taking action, and we are not alone!

Supported by Vattenfall, we are conducting industry-critical research to explore how front-end project development governance and decision-making contribute to asset and health and safety risks in the construction and O&M phases of renewable projects.

You can join this movement too.

By taking our short survey, you will influence sector improvements and contribute to an innovative training programme.

Simply answer a few questions. And there’s a bonus! To thank you, busy professionals, for your time, the first 25 respondents will receive £20 via PayPal.

So, go ahead, and complete the survey below!

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