Work wise, think twice: Keeping our bodies safe - Offshore Wind Installer
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Work wise, think twice: Keeping our bodies safe

By Kirsten Bank Christensen, Vice President, HSEQ at A2SEA A/S

Musculoskeletal injuries are an ever-present hazard in the offshore wind installation business. They’re defined as injuries that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system (muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels and so on). And, while many have an obvious and immediate cause, such as a back injury caused by lifting a heavy object on an awkward angle, others may be ‘occupational illnesses’ – damages that creep up on a worker over many years. In any case, this is a serious issue that can have permanent and devastating consequences at both professional and personal levels.

At A2SEA, we’ve declared war on this form of injury during the past 18 months. And we have taken a variety of steps to ensure a safer workplace, some of which include:

• We examined our workplaces to find where heavy items could be stored closer to floor height, offering better back protection.
• We changed contract requirements with a number of suppliers to reduce the standard size and weight of individual containers or other packaging to a maximum of 10 kg wherever possible.
• We reviewed the safety shoes issued to employees, taking into account differences in shape, softness and comfort of the shoes.
• We checked the height of desks, provided special support ‘chairs’ for people who stand when they’re working, and purchased pallet-lifters to reduce manual handling.
• We even looked at the interior layout of our cranes – finding, for example, that when the boom is extended, the driver’s hand is held in a difficult position that could have long-term implications. A set of exercises were devised to protect our drivers until new joystick designs might alleviate the problem.

The Work Wise. Think Twice campaign, as it’s called, has had a profound effect within our company, reflected in a strong improvement in year-to-date musculoskeletal injury statistics. The campaign has also, it seems, been felt beyond our company – both at individual suppliers and at other companies based around Esbjerg harbour where new focus has been brought on musculoskeletal hazards. It feels good to be a leader!

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