Wind energy production is booming along coastlines around the world, taking advantage of high sea winds and reduced noise pollution. However, the development of alternative energy solutions has a human cost—most often to the maritime employees who build, maintain, and repair the gargantuan turbines.
Alternative Wind Energy Places Maritime Workers in Danger
Jones Act seamen are no strangers to a high-risk work environment. From squalls and slippery decks to drowning and hypothermia, seamen face some of the most dangerous working conditions in any industry. As experienced maritime injury attorneys, we have seen the damage that can happen when employers and shipowners don’t prioritize safety—especially when taking on large-scale installations like wind farms.
A recent study published in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering explored the most common hazards that lead to injuries and deaths on offshore wind farms.
Key Risk Factors for Offshore Wind Turbines and Support Vessels include:
Extreme environmental conditions
Adverse weather such as gales, earthquakes, and tides place high dynamic stresses on towers, increasing the likelihood of turbine collapse.
Salt spray and water submersion can cause the tower rivets and walls to break down, particularly if proper anti-corrosion measures have not been taken. Untimely repairs to fix degradation also increase the risk of injuries.
Lightning strikes are unfortunately common on wind farms due to the high average number of offshore thunderstorms.
Maritime workers are exposed to a high rate of collisions with commercial ships, other support vessels, or the foundations of the turbines when navigating waters surrounding wind farms.
Inadequate fire control
Equipment fires are common on turbines and support vessels that don't have adequate fire stopping methods, allow oil leaks to continue unchecked, or don’t ensure proper disposal of oily rags and flammable materials.
Turbine blade failure due to lax maintenance, loose components, and imbalanced propellers places seamen below at risk of devastating struck-by injuries.
Submarine cable accidents
Maritime workers may suffer injuries due to insufficient buried depth of electrical cables, lack of warning signs in the submarine cable laying area, or fishing in areas around cables.
Who Can Be Liable for an Offshore Wind Turbine Support Vessel Accident?
Many different parties share responsibility for reducing the risk of injuries at sea. Depending on the nature of your accident, your injuries may have been a direct result of any of the following.
Possible Direct Causes of Wind Support Vessel Accidents Include:
Poor site planning
Wind farm operators have a duty to consider a variety of factors when designing offshore wind farms and incorporating safety measures before construction begins. In addition to known hazards like wave height, currents, and shifting seabeds, site planners should address foreseeable complications such as traffic management and adequate routes for navigation in and near wind farms.
Inadequate training and equipment
Wind farms have unique dangers that should be addressed in regular training programs to strengthen personnel safety awareness. Wind support vessels should be fully equipped with safety management systems, including early warning alarms and first aid care.
The placement of the submarine cables should be recorded and filed, and the location of these precautionary zones should be well-publicized for navigation safety.
Talk to Our Wind Farm Injury Attorneys Today
The dedicated legal team at Hofmann & Schweitzer wants to make your recovery as easy as possible after an injury at sea. If you were hurt on a wind support vessel, you may be entitled to accident compensation through federal maritime laws such as the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act (OCSLA), or general maritime law.
We have helped countless maritime workers nationwide get their rightful benefits and injury compensation under the law. Call us at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY or fill out our online contact form to begin your no-obligation consultation, or learn more about these types of claims in our complimentary guide, Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.