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More details on wind farm incident

A number of you have been asking about the findings of the investigation into the lifting incident at Mostyn Port in North Wales, in which a large (80 to 100 tonnes) wind turbine tower section for the Walney II offshore wind farm was dropped.

We have recently been provided with more information on what happened, some of which we have corroborated and can publish here, although those directly involved have been reluctant to share any information with the industry at large, at least publicly.

A statement this week from the main contractor on the site – Siemens Wind Power – said: “Siemens has carried out an investigation of the incident at the Port of Mostyn, which occurred on the 7th June. Our policy is not to disclose details of internal investigations.”

The dropped tower section in storage

We do now have some photographs of the dropped tower section that we now understand was being lifted by an 800 tonne crawler crane, while being tailed-in by a 300 tonner.

It seems that the tower was dropped due to a failure of the connection between the lifting brackets and the tower section – in other words the bolts that connect the bracket to the tower.

A closer look reveals more of the damage

If our sources are correct the failure occurred as the tower section neared the vertical position, it came down on the platform of a parked 45ft Genie boom lift that thankfully had been recently vacated by its two occupants. No one was injured in the incident.

The damaged boom lift, thankfully no one was in the platform at the time

The Scottish based crawler crane specialist Weldex has a major contract for moving the tower sections from dockside to storage and back, but we do not know if any of its cranes were involved in this lift and the company has declined to comment on the incident. To see the original report on this incident click here

Vertikal Comment

It is sad that information on incidents such as this are not shared more widely and openly. The vast majority of ‘accidents’ occur due to human failings – someone forgets to put all the bolts into a connection or does not torque them correctly or uses the wrong grade.

The fact is that by publishing such information openly the failing becomes a subject for public debate and others adopt specific measures to avoid having a similar occurrence themselves, this is how the commercial aviation industry (at least in the west) has managed to gain such a fantastic safety record.

We also know for a fact that detailed accident reports and subjects such as our Death Wish series are used widely by trainers to bring reality to their presentations which really helps bring reality into the session. In a recent Vertikal Poll 72.5 percent of all respondents said that the public reporting of near miss incidents should be mandatory in law.

Not that this is all down to companies such as Siemens or the crane contractors, for such an open approach to flourish it needs to Health & Safety authorities to change their view and move away from the unhelpful focus on whom to blame and how to ensure the best prosecution results – towards a genuine and open atmosphere that encourages openness rather than subterfuge.

Until that happens companies almost feel obliged to maintain a wall of silence in fear that anything they say will be used against them in a court of law and prejudice a fair hearing.