Pre-assembly for the Thanet project is complex, fast-paced, and potentially dangerous. That’s why Vestas site manager Carmen Baumann works hard on communications to make sure that everything at Dunkirk happens safely and according to plan.
“Our project language is English, but we have five nationalities here,” she says. “So that everyone knows exactly what needs to be done, I have three local people working full-time on translations. They have made it much easier for us to work with our French contractors.”
Thanet follows other Vestas projects in making good use of “Toolbox Talks” – short presentations on how to carry out the day’s tasks safely and effectively. At the start of the project, each Toolbox Talk involved the entire workforce. “But when you ask 50 people whether anyone has any questions, they all stare at the ground!” Baumann says.
“So now we also do Toolbox Talks in smaller groups, at the workplace. With just four or five people they are much more willing to speak up, even if their English is not the best. People have come up with some good ideas, and it’s been great for morale.”But that’s not the end of the safety story. “Suppose one afternoon we are going to lift a nacelle weighing 80 tonnes,” Baumann says. “People have spent the morning with their minds on other jobs, and now we need them to concentrate on this one, because if anyone makes a mistake, people could get hurt.”
So before every lift, the lift supervisor, crane driver, banksmen, slingers and anyone else involved meet for their own Toolbox Talk. “That way, everyone knows what is going to be lifted and where it is going,” Baumann explains. “All our subcontractors are very good,” she continues. “The company helping us with the pre-assembly, for instance, already had experience working with turbines onshore, and they plan their work very carefully.”
“The only accident we have had so far was someone who cut his hand while slicing bread for lunch. So it seems to be working!”