Offshore Wind Farm Construction: Navigating Health & Safety Responsibilities

Andrew Millichap
Maritime legislation operates in an international context and can be complex and contradicting. UK health and safety legislation and the legal duties for offshore construction projects are equally complex. Developers, contractors and operators need stringent processes and procedures in order to comply.

The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) are the key legislation applicable to the design and construction of onshore and offshore renewable energy projects within the jurisdiction of Great Britain.

In an offshore environment, there are also compliance requirements with International Maritime Organization (IMO) conventions, depending on Flag State, Coastal State and Classification Society.

CDM legislation has most often been applied to land-based projects, which do not always readily integrate with marine activities and maritime legislation.

Developers, contractors and operators need good understanding and effective implementation to manage the CDM requirements. However CDM legislation has most often been applied to land-based projects, which do not always readily integrate with marine activities and maritime legislation. With no specific legislation for offshore wind projects, the CDM Co-ordinator must interpret and apply the Regulations.

This is not straightforward. Round 2[1], and the upcoming Round 3, are further from shore than previous projects and considerations include

  • wave heights
  • deeper water
  • vessel availability, mobilisation, adaptability and capability.
  • transportation and  lifting
  • construction and operation of highly engineered components
  • robust emergency protocols.

Supply chains can also present challenges. This is still an emerging sector for the UK and we are currently very reliant on overseas expertise. Designers and contractors may therefore be unfamiliar with the relevant UK legislation. Considerations:

  • Design risk evaluation is critical to eliminate hazards.
  • Crew and wind technician competence is important
  • Training to address crew language and culture barriers.

Faithful+Gould is providing CDM assistance to the offshore principal contractor for the Teesside offshore wind farm project. With up to 27 turbines capable of producing up to 90MW of electricity, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to supply the annual requirements of around 60,000 households.

Van Oord, a Netherlands-based marine contractor, is responsible for all associated piling works, the construction of the transition pieces, wind turbine generators, all offshore array and 33Kv subsea cabling, as well as inter-tidal and marine vessel activities.

Faithful+Gould was appointed to help Van Oord navigate the UK CDM requirements:

  • auditing its principal contractor documentation
  • reviewing its working practices and procedures
  • auditing sub contractor’s practices and procedures
  • and ensuring that compliance is achieved.

We are drawing on our long experience of CDM Co-ordination and specifically on marine experience in this instance. Our focus is not only on achieving compliance, but also on repositioning CDM as an essential tool to help the statutory duty holders - clients, designers and contractors - deliver the project safely and efficiently.

[1] The Crown Estate owns UK territorial waters and has issued leases in three consecutive rounds, for offshore wind developments around the UK coast.