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IMCA’s Offshore Wind Safety Webinar stresses the importance of collaboration

Published on 23 November 2020

Collaboration, cooperation and the sharing of information emerged as top priorities in the recently held International Marine Contractors Association’s (IMCA) offshore wind webinar ‘‘Health & Safety – Our industry’s priority’.

Hosted by IMCA’s Marine Renewable Energy Committee and chaired by the Committee’s Chair, Alan MacLeay, the webinar featured speakers from the UK Health and Safety Executive, the USA’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the G+ Global Offshore Wind Health and Safety Organisation and IMCA.

As Captain Andy Goldsmith, Technical Adviser – Marine at IMCA said looking back at the well-attended webinar:

“The big plus was how well the represented organisations worked together. We have spent much time and energy discussing and promoting collaboration and I think everyone involved in the webinar, panellists and attendees, would have witnessed regulators, clients and contractors working together for a common goal of safe and efficient operations.”

At the outset, Allen Leatt, IMCA Chief Executive explained:

“Safety lies at the heart of IMCA’s work. This has been so since our early beginnings in 1972. Through our Marine Renewable Energy Committee, we aim to share and promote relevant experience and best practice between the oil and gas and renewable energy sectors for the benefit of our Members and industry stakeholders.”

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Allen Leatt
Chief Executive
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Andy Goldsmith
Technical Adviser – Marine
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He set the scene by walking attendees through IMCA’s 2019 key data using LTIFR by company size; touched on the safety flash system (dealt with later in the webinar by IMCA’s Nick Hough); and on energy transition both in terms of the environment and the market.

He added:

“Hosting this webinar presented an ideal opportunity to highlight safety with our Members and we were delighted to have both UK and US regulators supporting us alongside G+.”

Cause and effect

A letter from Trevor Johnson of the Health and Safety Executive sent in July to all key membership organisations serving the offshore wind industry was a catalyst for the webinar. In it he had explained:

“…. some sectors of the wind energy industry, improvements in health and safety has at best stalled if not reversed …. This would be unacceptable”

and during the webinar he stated that:

“The response the industry has been positive and demonstrates the desire to improve” and particularly cited an article in IMCA’s ‘Making Waves’ and the webinar itself.

And Trevor then went on to outline the current priorities:

  • Health and Safety at the centre of all major decision making
  • Change the narrative – Health and Safety is an investment in people not a cost
  • Improve engagement for:
    • The workforce
    • All managers/supervisors involved in organisations and projects
    • Throughout the supply chain
  • Improve collaboration, cooperation and the sharing of information

Christy Lan, Senior Technical Advisor – Renewable Energy at BSEE outlined the US Department of the Interior (DOI) responsibilities for offshore renewable energy explaining it was important now that offshore wind was of global interest that the learnings from Europe should be taken on board.

She explained that BSEE allows operators to propose the standards they want to use rather than imposing standards, stressing that attention to metocean factors in US waters must be considered. DOI will take a performance-based approach to regulating health and safety, with operators required to submit detailed Safety Management Systems (SMS) with their Construction Operations Plan (COP).

Kate Harvey, General Manager of G+ used their 2019 safety highlights which saw ~one injured person every three days, and ~one dropped object every four; and 29% of all incidents judged to be ‘high potential’ as evidence of the work that must be done. She outlined the membership, governance and structure (which includes focal groups for Europe, US and APAC) of G+; their four pillars and its 2021 work streams and ways of becoming involved.

Nick Hough, IMCA’s Technical Adviser – Health and Safety gave the final presentation of the afternoon ‘Safety – foundation, centre, pillar, shared’ that saw him outline the importance of both IMCA’s Safety Flashes and DP bulletins to the offshore energy industry. He stressed that as well as publishing reports from the renewable energy sector, IMCA welcomes renewable bodies to submit and share IMCA Safety Flashes which contribute to the lessons learned experience.

The Q&A session chaired by Steve Myers, Vice Chair of IMCA’s Marine Renewable Energy Committee produced wide ranging questions and answers including one from Allen Leatt that summed up the importance of collaboration, cooperation and information sharing:

“I’m very much of the philosophy that if someone else is doing something better than we are, is better positioned, more advanced and capable, then IMCA doesn’t need to do it. We need to play to each other’s strengths. We’re not in the business of duplication, our industry can’t afford it. Clarity and a first-class service are all-important.”