Shell exec flays offshore wind sector safety

The offshore wind industry has a lot to learn when it comes to safety – from, for instance, the oil and gas sector, says Shell's Vice President for Wind and HSSE Dorine Bosman in an interview with EnergyWatch.
Photo: Mathias Julius Falkengaard
Photo: Mathias Julius Falkengaard


256 accidents in a single year is simply too many.

Shell Vice President of Wind and Health, Safety, Security and the Environment Dorine Bosman emphasized this issue Tuesday morning during a speech at the WindEurope conference in Copenhagen and argued the importance of expanding offshore wind in a responsible way – with fewer accidents than the 256 registered during 2018.

"There are a series of things that can be done. First and foremost, it's about getting a handle on procedures and processes. We need to figure out whether it's possible to design things in a safer way regarding which tools are used, how work is handled and which safety equipment is needed. We have figured out over time that safety must always come before production," she said and continued:

"People mustn't work if they don't think it's safe – and they must not be punished for doing so. That's the mindset that's needed. It's difficult but necessary."

Bosman sees safety improvements as crucial for the successful propagation of offshore wind, and she doesn't think the matter is given sufficient attention in the sector.

Take cues from oil and gas

During her presentation, Bosman pointed out that the industry must learn from the oil and gas business, where she has around two decades of experience.

The Shell VP holds that doing so is crucial, even though none of last year's accidents were fatal.

"Accidents like the 256 from last year could lead to deaths and life-changing injuries. Only luck prevented things from being much worse. But 256 accidents are in my opinion 256 too many," she said.

Bosman then remarked that the oil and gas industry has learned this the hard way. However, safety in the fossil sector is currently five times higher than in offshore wind.

The oil and gas industry has an accident reporting rate of 0.9 incidents per 1 million labor hours against 4.55 per 1 million working hours in offshore wind.

In other words, there's plenty of room for improvement.

One of the main themes at the WindEurope conference entails the European capacity target of 450 GW ahead to 2050, quite obviously requiring many labor hours and new personnel – and hopefully without serious injuries.

Inadequate safety puts life at risk, at least that's what Shell's VP of Wind and HSSE says.

English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen

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