The committee’s charge was to assess the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) approach for regulating the health and safety of wind farm workers on the outer continental shelf (OCS). The committee’s three main tasks were to identify unique risks to worker health and safety on wind farms as compared with oil and gas operations on the OCS (see Chapters 2 and 4), to identify any gaps or overlaps in jurisdictional authority (see Chapter 3), and to evaluate the adequacy of and recommend enhancements to current regulations for worker health and safety on OCS wind farms (see Chapters 3 and 5).
The U.S. federal government has regulated the production of offshore oil and gas for decades, but it has no experience with offshore wind farms. Although land-based and offshore wind development share many hazards, the challenge of working on and from vessels and in and over the water with massive offshore wind turbine equipment introduces additional hazards and different risks. As discussed in Chapter 2, the oil and gas and wind industries share many of these offshore hazards, and the risk associated with oil and gas hazards is compared with that for offshore wind. The oil and gas industry works with a volatile product, so the risk of explosion or fire on offshore platforms is greater than on an offshore wind turbine. Furthermore, offshore drilling platforms are larger, manned by more personnel, and pose a greater ongoing risk to human life and the environment than does an unmanned wind turbine.
Chapter 3 discussed the jurisdictional issues involved in regulating worker health and safety for offshore and land-based wind farms. Given the history of regulating health and safety in the United States, overlapping—and possible gaps in—jurisdiction among multiple federal agencies has created confusion as to which regulations apply and
when and where they apply. Normally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would have jurisdiction for private-sector worker health and safety regulations in the United States, including the OCS. However, in accordance with Section 4(b)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, DOI’s intention of enforcing worker health and safety regulations for wind energy by requiring the lessee to submit a description of a safety management system (SMS) has preempted OSHA from enforcing its regulations on the OCS. OSHA does regulate health and safety for land-based wind farms and has indicated that it will regulate offshore wind farms in state waters within 3 nautical miles and on the Great Lakes. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) regulates the safety of life and property on OCS facilities engaged in exploring and exploiting mineral resources but has declared itself a cooperating agency to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for renewable energy activities, allowing BOEM to be the lead agency.
The committee examined current DOI regulations in Chapter 3 and presented other SMS models—and baseline SMS elements—in Chapter 5 that could guide BOEM in developing and enhancing its own requirements and standards. Chapter 5 also discusses factors that shape and support a well-developed SMS, such as an organizational culture of safety, performance indicators and monitoring, inspections and audits by both the regulator and the operator, and training. Finally, the use of human factors engineering (HFE) elements in the design process is introduced, and its relevance and application to the protection of worker health and safety are discussed. The committee’s consensus findings and recommendations are presented below.
Finding 1. Under the authority of Section 388 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, DOI’s BOEM is responsible for regulating worker safety on offshore wind farms on the OCS.
BOEM’s Office of Renewable Energy has leasing, permitting, and enforcement authority for offshore wind energy (see 30 CFR 585). DOI’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) develops and enforces safety and environmental regulations for oil and gas operations, but not for wind energy. During the drafting of this report, however, the sponsor reported to the committee that BSEE expects to conduct safety compliance inspections of offshore renewable energy facilities
by 2014, consistent with the original intent of the Minerals Management Service–Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement reorganization and parallel to the arrangement for oil and gas. The committee endorses DOI’s intention of resolving jurisdictional responsibilities between BSEE and BOEM with regard to wind energy on the OCS in a manner similar to the resolution of responsibilities for oil and gas—with BOEM being responsible for resource management and BSEE being responsible for health and safety compliance.
Finding 2. Federal regulations and oversight with regard to worker health and safety on offshore renewable energy installations (OREIs) on the OCS are not well developed. To date, BOEM has issued a general requirement that operators provide a safe working environment by submitting a description of an SMS as required by 30 CFR 585.810, but without benchmarks or minimum detail as to what should be included.
Finding 3. An SMS can be effective in ensuring worker health and safety if organizations embrace it and if the SMS reflects a positive safety culture. However, standards are only effective if they are sufficiently detailed that the regulated entity understands what is required for compliance.
BOEM has a general SMS requirement in §585.810 that lacks many important elements and details necessary for guiding operators adequately. Chapter 5 of this report reviews elements in published SMS standards and sets forth concepts needed for any SMS. An SMS identifies hazards and associated risks and presents mitigation measures for all aspects of the wind development process. SMS standards that follow the typical “plan-do-check-act” process can be used as an effective model and provide the foundation for an effective safety culture, which is key to sustainable safety. This process is necessary but not sufficient for achieving safe operations, however—a successful SMS also requires strong leadership that implements policies and promotes a positive safety culture at all levels of the organization. Although the committee does not recommend the use of one SMS standard over another, it does believe that an SMS provides organizations with a mechanism for verifying that its health and safety policies and procedures produce the
intended results, for taking corrective action as necessary, and for continually improving its health and safety performance.
Finding 4. Because the offshore wind farm industry in the United States is just beginning to develop, a regulatory framework that facilitates continued progress while ensuring protection of worker health and safety is desirable. Goal-based regulations could allow the appropriate flexibility needed for technological changes and continued development. Requiring an SMS that is comprehensive and effective in practice is preferred, but a hybrid approach may be necessary. To maximize the protection of worker health and safety, a comprehensive and effective SMS is likely to require additional details governing the control of specific hazards. In some cases, specific hazards will require more detailed prescriptive requirements.
Finding 5. Some of the safety and environmental management system (SEMS) requirements for the offshore oil and gas industry would be appropriate for offshore wind farm worker health and safety and could be adapted to regulations for offshore wind installations. However, the overall risk to the health and safety of workers and to the environment associated with an offshore oil and gas platform is greater than that associated with an offshore wind turbine.
BSEE’s SEMS rule applies to workers in offshore oil and gas operations and incorporates the elements from American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 75. The SEMS rule lays out multiple requirements for safe operations that are consistent with other SMSs reviewed by the committee and are compared in Chapter 5. Since the risk profiles of the offshore oil and gas and offshore wind industries are different, any regulatory framework adapting SEMS for the offshore wind industry would need to be risk-specific and would require less oversight than for the oil and gas industry.
Recommendation 1a. While engaging with stakeholders, BOEM should undertake rulemaking and adopt a full SMS rule at a level of detail that includes the baseline elements identified in Chapter 5 of this report or at a level comparable with that of the SEMS for the oil and gas industry. BOEM and BSEE should investigate the appropri-
ateness of adapting SEMS for the offshore wind industry. In addition, any new rule should require the lessee to submit any resulting SMS to BOEM and BOEM to review the SMS against the new SMS rule.
Under BOEM’s SMS requirement in 30 CFR 585.810, operators must submit a description of their SMS, but the requirement does not provide industry the necessary detail of well-defined regulations. Chapter 5 presents SMS elements from published standards and other documents and provides BOEM with the concepts necessary for developing and approving the full SMS rule. BSEE’s SEMS regulations in Subpart S of 30 CFR 250 provide significantly more detail than the current §585.810 requirements. BSEE is expected to conduct safety compliance inspections of offshore renewable energy facilities, and BOEM and BSEE should study the appropriateness of SEMS for the offshore wind industry. Engaging wind energy stakeholders early in the rulemaking process can improve the chances of implementing a comprehensive and effective SMS rule. The development of Subchapter M of 46 CFR, discussed in Chapter 3, provides an example of a process under which the engagement between a regulator and stakeholders produced an SMS requirement that advanced worker health and safety while allowing industry flexibility in demonstrating compliance with regulations.
Recommendation 1b. BOEM and BSEE should lead stakeholders in developing a clear SMS standard similar to API RP 75 or SEMS so that the industry has a document against which to judge SMS programs and their effectiveness. Furthermore, BOEM and BSEE should lead stakeholders in developing guidelines and recommended practices that could be used as guidance documents or adopted by reference.
BOEM and BSEE should encourage the wind industry to develop a clear SMS standard, as well as voluntary guidelines and consensus standards that supplement an enhanced SMS rule. It is important for BOEM and BSEE to engage in the standards development process and actively participate on committees that develop such standards to improve the agencies’ understanding of the industry they regulate. Enlisting the help of industry stakeholders in crafting guidelines and recommended practices, similar to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA’s)
Recommended Practices for Design, Deployment, and Operation of Offshore Wind Turbines in the United States released in 2012, can facilitate cooperation if BOEM chooses to utilize such documents as guidance or to adopt them by reference.
Finding 6. According to 30 CFR 585, and as explained to the committee by the sponsor, the scope of BOEM’s SMS covers all activities and all facilities described in and conducted under a lessee’s site assessment plan (SAP), construction and operations plan (COP), or general activities plan (GAP), regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.
According to the regulations in Subpart H of 30 CFR 585, all activities, both onshore and offshore, described in an approved COP, SAP, or GAP must be conducted “in accordance with” the organization’s fully functioning SMS. An organization’s entire safety approach for all phases of a project is included in the SMS’s scope.
Recommendation 2. BOEM’s enhanced SMS rule should be contained in a single document; should encompass all activities including construction, operation and maintenance, and a framework for decommissioning; and should promote a positive safety culture within an organization. The SMS rule should be supplemented by specific requirements sufficient to ensure consistent health and safety performance across the population of operators and contractors and to provide equal protection for employees at all locations, regardless of jurisdiction.
Although BOEM’s jurisdiction starts beyond state waters (on the OCS), an effective SMS should cover all activities and operations for all project phases and for all facilities, even if those activities occur outside of BOEM’s jurisdiction. A lessee’s policies and procedures documenting worker health and safety for offshore wind farms do not begin 3 nautical miles offshore, and neither should the lessee’s SMS. The SMS exists to define an organization’s health and safety policies and the responsibilities of key personnel, to identify hazards that can lead to incidents for all phases of a project, to determine the risk associated with each hazard, and to identify appropriate precautions to decrease the likelihood of incidents and mitigate any that occur. An SMS provides the foundation
for an effective safety culture, which is key to sustainable safety, and provides a mechanism for managers to verify that the implemented health and safety policies and procedures produce the intended results and to take corrective action, if necessary.
Finding 7. Well-defined federal occupational health and safety regulations (a national regulatory framework) for offshore wind farms on the OCS would also provide a resource for OSHA and the state programs as they develop regulations for U.S. waters within 3 nautical miles and on the Great Lakes.
Finding 8. Many OSHA standards for either general industry (29 CFR 1910) or the construction industry (29 CFR 1926) can be applied to potential hazards in the offshore wind industry. Likewise, USCG regulations in the (forthcoming) revised Subchapter N (33 CFR 140–147) could be applied to these hazards.
Although many OSHA and USCG regulations are prescriptive, they offer guidance and preventive strategies for ensuring safe work practices and could help BOEM develop a supportive structure for offshore safety that provides additional details governing the control of specific hazards. Examples of such guidance include control of hazardous energy sources (i.e., lockout and tagout) and arc flash and procedures for working safely in confined spaces. OSHA regulations that pertain to onshore wind turbine worker safety could be appropriate for wind turbines on the OCS when the hazards are similar. However, some regulations, such as those for diving, are out of date and in the committee’s opinion require revision. The committee notes that OSHA has neither vessels nor resources for enforcing worker safety requirements for wind farms within state waters, on the Great Lakes, or on the OCS. BOEM could adapt OSHA regulations into its regulatory framework, although this would require BOEM inspectors to be trained in enforcing those requirements.
Recommendation 3. Together with stakeholders, BOEM and BSEE should assess in detail the adequacy of current U.S. (e.g., OSHA and USCG) and foreign (e.g., UK Health and Safety Executive) regulations and marine construction guidelines in addressing the hazards for offshore wind farm worker health and safety on the OCS.
Chapter 4 sets forth applicable regulations and recognized best practices in health and safety in the United States and internationally. BOEM and BSEE should use this information to assess in detail the regulations and guidelines that apply to offshore wind farms and determine their efficacy. On the basis of this inventory and the common recognized hazards on wind farms regardless of their location, the committee recommends that BOEM and BSEE work closely with other regulatory agencies and consult with industry groups to develop consistent regulatory practices independent of the location of the wind farms. The regulatory practices would be contained in a single document (see Recommendation 2) and provide a resource for agencies developing similar regulations in other jurisdictions.
Finding 9. A central element of designing for safety is a focus on HFE. Because prescriptive requirements do not always keep up to date with industry’s best practices and design principles, adhering to design standards that attend to HFE elements (one example is ASTM F1166-2007, Standard Practice for Human Engineering Design for Marine Systems, Equipment, and Facilities)1 could address this problem.
HFE improves the interface between workers and the systems and equipment they operate and maintain by incorporating elements of management participation, workplace design, environmental control, and job aids into the design and operation of a safe and efficient work site. The prevention through design (PtD) initiative is based on the premise of “designing out” hazards and risks. Wind farms are less likely to experience a large, catastrophic event, such as the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Because wind turbines are unmanned and are spread over a large area, a limited number of workers are exposed to hazards at one time, in contrast to an oil and gas platform. Emphasizing the reduction of personal events through the introduction of HFE elements early in the design process could greatly improve worker health and safety in the operation of offshore wind farms.
1 The American Society for Testing and Materials, now known as ASTM International, develops and delivers international voluntary consensus standards.
Recommendation 4. BOEM and BSEE should require the inclusion of HFE and PtD elements in any updated SMS requirement for offshore wind farms.
Design is critical in ensuring worker health and safety. Addressing hazards and risks early in the design process is recognized as a key strategy for reducing or eliminating workplace injuries and fatalities, especially personal safety events. The HFE discipline and the PtD initiative provide opportunities for identifying and eliminating hazards during the design phase. In the opinion of the committee, they are vital elements for any SMS.
Finding 10. A memorandum of agreement (MOA) exists between BOEM (originally the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement) and USCG, and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) exists between USCG and OSHA. However, the memoranda are unclear as to which health and safety regulations will be enforced (and by whom) and do not adequately cover worker health and safety on OCS wind farms.
The MOA between BOEM and USCG sets a framework for communication and cooperation throughout the OREI process by avoiding overlapping and duplicative regulations with regard to vessels servicing OREIs, but it does not adequately cover worker health and safety. The MOU between USCG and OSHA does not discuss the likely introduction of OREIs in state waters. Industry has indicated a desire for consistent enforcement of standards. Although consistent regulatory practices are important, so too is a set of MOUs clarifying which agency will cover what and where industry will turn for answers to procedural questions. During a recent meeting, representatives of all three agencies (DOI, OSHA, and USCG) determined that agreements would need to be updated to reflect the likelihood of shared responsibility for investigations. Ideally, a trilateral agreement for perceived violations would encourage collaboration across regulators and geographical jurisdictions.
Recommendation 5. BOEM should examine its MOA with USCG, and USCG should review its MOU with OSHA in light of the certain development of OCS renewable energy projects. The updates of
both memoranda should set forth clearly defined health and safety roles for each agency and indicate which standards will apply for all phases regardless of jurisdictional boundary. A tripartite MOU could provide the most clarity.
Finding 11. Valid and reliable data are essential for monitoring safety performance and assessing organizational goals and policies and are generated as part of an organization’s internal audit. Organizations can use key performance indicators (KPIs) to extract lessons that can be used to improve worker safety through better design, operational procedures, and organizational policies.
Leading indicators, such as hazards identified and addressed, are proactive measures that can suggest the possibility of an incident or the presence (or lack) of a safety culture. Lagging indicators, such as injuries per time period, are reactive measures after an event or accident and tend to gauge past trends or performance. Developing metrics and collecting data are important tools for management in reporting outcomes, setting strategy, supporting decision making, and implementing corrective actions with regard to safety performance. As noted at industry conferences, however, companies may be cautious about releasing health and safety data because of concerns with regard to potential litigation or greater regulatory scrutiny, even though maintaining and sharing data on KPIs in sufficient detail are important goals for the wind energy industry. Standards for reporting indicators therefore need to be developed; furthermore, standards for keeping records of this information and appropriate collection and publication of the indicators are priorities.
The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) collects, analyzes, and shares data on industry incidents from work in offshore construction. The reports developed by IMCA contain descriptions of incidents, near misses, and potential hazards and give the apparent cause (or causes) of the incident and any actions taken to prevent a recurrence. IMCA surveys its members annually for additional safety information. KPIs used in the survey are developed by the association. The safety performance statistics produced by IMCA allow member organizations to identify trends within the industry and to measure their performance
against industry averages, thus allowing organizations to improve safety performance and reduce injury rates.
Recommendation 6a. The committee supports AWEA’s attempt to benchmark industry safety data through an anonymous survey and to share the results of the survey with its members. To track success or problems in managing health and safety on OCS wind farms, BOEM should enlist the help of industry and industry stakeholders in researching and developing standards for KPIs and in collecting, storing, and publishing this information.
BOEM should look to IMCA’s model of data collection and distribution as it works with wind industry stakeholders to develop KPIs.
Recommendation 6b. BOEM should require organizations operating on the OCS to submit all internal audit plans, including relevant KPIs to be collected, electronically.
BOEM should use this information, along with information from BOEM inspection reports and operator self-inspection plans and reports, to conduct selective audits. The results of such audits should be used to encourage organizations to improve their safety performance. BOEM should strongly encourage industry to incorporate any lessons learned into designs for worker safety.
Finding 12. BOEM’s inspection process for wind turbines is not well developed, nor is an audit process part of the regulations.
As discussed in Chapter 5, the lessee must allow BOEM to conduct scheduled and unscheduled inspections of a lessee’s facilities and vessels and must demonstrate compliance with its own SMS. Although BOEM has published a Process Guide to clarify the offshore renewable energy process and produced a list of potential incidents of noncompliance for renewable energy, BOEM’s inspection process is not fully developed and will need clarification. In addition, auditing is identified as an important element in SMS standards, but neither internal audits nor audits conducted by BOEM are required in the current regulations. BOEM has indicated that the SEMS inspection and auditing processes under development for the oil and gas industry will provide guidance to the offshore
wind industry for future inspection policy and for any new audit process but that these plans are still in their early stages.
Recommendation 7. As it updates the inspection process and develops complete audit procedures, BOEM should examine the holistic approach recommended in the recent SEMS report as a model for offshore wind energy.
BOEM should evaluate the effectiveness of a lessee’s SMS program on the basis of principles outlined in the SEMS report (TRB 2012), which recommends a combination of approaches for an effective SMS, including government compliance inspections and operator and government audits. The committee supports this report’s recommended approach in principle and agrees that while “ensuring compliance with specific regulations” has its place, an SMS inspection “should not be focused solely on what is not in compliance” but should also “attempt to obtain a holistic view of the facility’s safety culture” (TRB 2012, 95). The report goes on to say that inspections “should look beyond the written regulations to identify operators in marginal compliance,” despite the difficulty of assessing the adequacy of an SMS, and should “make overall observations, which, in turn, could help focus” an audit (TRB 2012, 96).
The SEMS report also outlines an extensive audit program that includes features such as operator ownership and quality assurance of audits. The committee agrees with the SEMS report that an operator should be involved in an internal audit. An audit is more effective when it is performed by independent teams of the operator that are not associated with the activities being reviewed; such an arrangement “reinforces ownership” of the process and of the organization’s “safety culture” (TRB 2012, 92). Likewise, BOEM should use internal audit plans (see Recommendation 6b) in combination with reports from BOEM inspectors and the lessee’s self-inspection plans and reports to direct its audits. BOEM’s audits are critical for verifying that the operator’s SMS audits are being conducted properly and that the lessee’s managers are reviewing SMS audit reports and taking any necessary corrective action.
Although the frequency and scope of inspections and audits would need to be adjusted to address the risks associated with offshore wind
farms, many components of the approach recommended in the SEMS report would be appropriate for overseeing the offshore wind industry.
Finding 13. Neither BOEM nor BSEE has established training programs for offshore wind inspectors.
To carry out its mandate to conduct health and safety inspections of wind farms, BOEM will require well-trained personnel who understand the hazards and risks of the industry they regulate. Proper training of government regulatory personnel will be necessary as new health and safety regulations are instituted and inspection and audit processes are better defined. Any training program will require scalability as the offshore wind industry grows, but the scope of the potential program remains unclear.
Finding 14. Guidelines for health and safety training lack consistency between manufacturers and operators within the wind industry. Technicians often face redundant safety training and courses to receive certification to work on turbines from different manufacturers.
Although many companies in the wind industry have comprehensive training programs, the programs often lack consistent guidelines for minimum training requirements and recognition of competency. The committee endorses efforts by AWEA, RenewableUK, and the Global Wind Organisation to standardize common elements used by the wind industry for basic safety training courses and believes that such efforts are helpful in reducing this redundancy.
|TRB||Transportation Research Board|
TRB. 2012. Special Report 309: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Offshore Safety and Environmental Management Systems. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/167249.aspx.