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Suffolk: Wind farm worker airlifted to hospital

An investigation has been launched after an engineer was airlifted to hospital from the top of a turbine at a huge off-shore wind farm.

The man was injured while on the hub of a wind turbine at the Greater Gabbard site, about 20 miles out to sea from Felixstowe.

It was initially feared that he may have suffered a broken leg but after being airlifted to hospital, he was found to have only minor injuries.

The drama began at about 10.40am on Saturday as the worker, a contractor for Flour UK Ltd, was hurt while at the top of the turbine.

The Coastguard was contacted and it was decided that the RAF Sea King Rescue Helicopter, based at Wattisham Flying Station, would be needed to help get the man to safety.

A Coastguard spokesman said: “The helicopter went and winched him from the top of the turbine and took him straight to Ipswich Hospital.

“They had to make sure from the people that run the wind farm that the blades were in a wide position and stopped. They rotated them so they were in a safe position.

“This happened 20 miles out to sea so it wasn’t necessary for our launch to go out.”

The Sea jack Rig Leviathon, the floating base for the work force, was nearby but it was agreed that the injured man should be transported straight to hospital.

A spokesman for the Wattisham-based RAF team said the winchman was deployed only after it was confirmed that the blades had been locked into position.

He said: “I think that’s the first actual medical evacuation wind farm job we have had.”

The Greater Gabbard turbines are now all in place but are not yet operational.

A spokeswoman for SSE, the company behind the project, said the worker had only minor injuries and no broken bones.

She said: “We are currently working with the Health and Safety Executive on a full and thorough investigation. We wish the contractor well and hope he makes a full recovery.”