Green Job Hazards: Wind Energy - Fires
Wind turbines may have fire hazards because of the electrical parts and the combustible materials such as insulation or the material of construction used in the turbine housing (Nacelle) or lubricants involved in its operation.
Wind energy employers should train workers about fire hazards at the worksite and about what to do in a fire emergency. This plan should outline the assignments of key personnel in the event of a fire and provide an evacuation plan for workers on the wind turbines. Where employers require workers to use portable fire extinguishers, workers must be trained in the general principle of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage fire fighting.
Workers should be made aware that while fighting initial fires, toxic gases can be generated and oxygen can be depleted inside Nacelles, and they can be exposed to such gases or can be asphyxiated from lack of oxygen.
If the employer chooses to use a fixed extinguishing system inside Nacelles, then the freezing point of the extinguishing medium and the safety of workers (exposure to toxic gases and depletion of oxygen) including emergency escape method should taken intoconsideration.
In addition to the fire extinguishing mechanisms (whether the use of fire extinguishers or a fire extinguishing system or both), fire detection systems and emergency alarm systems should be installed inside Nacelles to give an early warning to workers to escape. If such systems are installed, they must be maintained in operable condition, see 1910.160(c) and 1910.165(d).
Workers should know exactly what to do and how to escape in a fire emergency. Wind turbines should be provided with quick escape descent devices for workers to escape in the event of a fire or other emergency.
OSHA’s Fire Safety page should be consulted for additional information on fire hazards.
Fire Safety Advisor is available as an additional resource in mitigating fire hazards associated with Wind Turbines.