Wind energy – the safety challenge for rural Ireland – Seminar in Portlaoise

Turbines up to half the height of the Empire State Building are cropping up as part of a push to meet EU green energy targets and generate 40 per cent of Ireland’s electricity from wind.

But a plan to further develop wind farms across the Irish midlands has sparked a move to explore the risks associated with them and the impact on health and safety in their construction and maintenance.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) Ireland Branch is laying on an event, in Portlaoise, on Thursday 27 March for those affected by wind power. Local authorities, construction and planning bodies, as well as farmers and other rural industry stakeholders, are expected to attend.

IOSH Ireland Rural Industries Section chair Michael Cusack said the day-long seminar is important because it will show how occupational health and safety is fundamental to the wind energy sector.

He added: “IOSH is committed to promoting high standards in safety management and it’s essential that local stakeholders, engineering companies and utility developers can mitigate risk of injury wherever possible.

“We shall look at areas including landslide hazards, noise, transport of abnormal loads and livestock in an effort to inform and educate safety professionals and other interested parties.”

The talks will take place at the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel, between 8am and 3:15pm. Speakers at the event include Health and Safety Authority CEO Martin O’Halloran, Noise Consultant Dick Bowdler, Kingston University’s Dr Alan Dykes, Queen’s University Belfast’s Professor Alun Evans and JOD Consulting Engineers’ David McLoone.

Mr Cusack concluded: “This is not only a great networking opportunity for all those involved in wind energy production and rural affairs; it will help to keep Ireland’s safety record on track as demand for renewable energy grows.”

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