Optimising safety for the renewable energy sector

Offshore wind turbine farm at sunset.

A culture of care should be the foundation of the renewable sector when it comes to health and safety, says DEKRA UK vice president Mark Walker - Credit: Getty Images

Renewable sources of energy – wind, water, solar, geothermal – are widely viewed as the engines that will power the world one day, and companies specialising in renewables are already making headway toward that goal.

But no matter how innovative or new, every industry has to consider safety – and the renewables sector is no exception. Fortunately, the basic tenets are somewhat universal and are reflected in a ‘culture of care’ approach that informs every aspect of an organisation.

Culture of care through three lenses

It’s helpful to think about how a culture of care can be expressed in three critical areas: people; processes and systems; and equipment. Caring for people means seeing and valuing them as human beings. This is evident in how leaders interact with their teams – for example, acknowledging their successes, motivating them to do better, allowing them to use their strengths and encouraging them to understand their weaknesses. At the organisational level, it might be codified in company policies that support a work-life balance or promote employee health.

When it comes to systems and processes, demonstrating care means making timely updates, conducting regular reviews and implementing needed improvements. Since many of today’s processes and systems are technology-enabled, staying abreast of advancements and alert to gaps is part of exhibiting care.

Taking care of equipment through proper usage and regular maintenance probably seems obvious. However, it can be tempting to forego routine care of this type when machinery appears to be working problem-free and a tune-up stretches the budget. Or when the usage recommendations in the operator’s manual feel unnecessary.

The fact is, investing time and money in proper maintenance will save both resources in the long run and respecting operating instructions can extend a machine’s lifetime and prevent accidents.

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Beyond safety

Cultivating a culture of care results in people who thrive, processes and systems that meet companies’ needs and equipment that lasts longer and works better. This is certainly a recipe for better safety outcomes, but that’s not the only positive effect.

When care is prioritised, companies can also expect improved efficiency, quality, reliability and predictability. Organisations of any size or sector can benefit.

A culture of care for renewables

It is, of course, important to take context into account when adapting a culture of care approach to a particular company or industry. One relevant feature of the renewables sector is that workers are often on-site temporarily, as contractors, or for shorter periods of time. Multiple companies naturally means multiple company cultures, so the goal in this case is to ensure that the site culture dominates and that everyone present not only understands, but also ‘owns’ it.

To explain what this looks like, DEKRA is hosting a webinar on November 10, 2021. You can register here or download our expert white paper which explores the issue in depth. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about how our services can support your goals.

DEKRA Organisational and Process Safety is a behavioural change and process safety consultancy company. Working in collaboration with clients, its approach is to assess the process safety and influence the safety culture with the aim of ‘making a difference´. For more information, visit www.dekra-uk.co.uk

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