People and protocols keep our global safety standards high
Published on 11th Decemberr 2018
Global Business Partner Service at Vestas
When you service all makes of turbine, all around the world, how do you make sure that safety standards are maintained at the highest level? It’s an important question - and when we talk to our customers about what’s most important to them when choosing a service provider, it’s always a priority.
Of course, it’s a given that all turbines live up to strict legislation, but that’s not really where the greatest safety challenge lies. If you look at the causes of incidents, more than 90% are caused by human behavior. That’s why we believe that keeping the highest safety record means creating a safety-first mindset.
The people I meet who service our turbines are special: They’re proud of what they do, and they take their jobs very seriously. It’s not an easy environment to work in. When you’ve experienced standing on the top of an 80m high turbine, swaying in the wind like a ship at sea, you really respect what they do. It takes a cool head and a lot of courage.
But not all the people who are attracted to this lifestyle – because that’s what it is – are not natural-born rule followers. And to secure a high safety level for all, we spend a lot of time developing watertight safety procedures and protocols which must become second nature for them. Because not following rules has serious consequences.
Secondly, training is vital, both technical safety training, turbine specific training as well as Safety awareness training. Adding to this leadership needs to be strong and Vestas leaders perform safety walks to check first-hand what our engineers will encounter. Even our executive leadership takes part, and our CEO has climbed the ladder and walked the roof of a nacelle… so when they talk safety they can speak from experience.
Our goal is to create the same service documentation for each and every turbine, in a standardized, user-friendly format. Our engineers already have enough to think about without having to navigate convoluted directions! With this global service manual, we’re able to give the same training round the world to make sure all our technicians stay safe. Performance and target-wise we don’t distinguish between brands and expect the same safety performance when servicing all makes of turbines. Because safety comes first. It’s that simple.
Of course, there will sometimes be additional local regulations to deal with. In the US, for example, working in a confined space, such as the tower or the nacelle requires extra training – but essentially, we are working towards uniform global standards [that comply with the requirements in all locations where we operate]. Creating the Vestas’ safety first mindset can sometimes take extra work across cultures, but we like to think that when you’re working on a turbine for us, you’re in a little embassy of Vestas where our international rules apply – you’re on Vestas’ turf!
We think of ourselves as pioneers in creating new safety measures - we’re actually the founding fathers of basic safety training for wind turbines - and now via the Global Wind Organisation we’re part of bringing [other] OEMs into our network. We’re helping to lift the entire industry, with contractors also being protected. We consider it our responsibility to make this happen, because as well as keeping our work partners colleagues safe, it’s really important for our customers – as they are equally exposed whether they have a contractor or a Vestas person working on their turbine fleet.