North American firms join to focus on wind safety


North America’s leading wind-power companies are joining together within the Global Wind Organisation (GWO), a non-profit focused on providing standardized safety training and emergency procedures across the industry worldwide.

Members of the GWO North America committee represent wind-turbine manufacturers and owner-operators including:

  • Brian Walencik, GE Wind, Onshore (Chair).
  • Gary Aucoin, Equinor.
  • Karl Delooff, Acciona Energia.
  • Adell Heneghan, E.On Climate & Renewables.
  • Michael Hanson, GE Renewables – Offshore.
  • Isabelle Le Beau, Enercon.
  • Autumn Lewis, The Nordex Group.
  • Dan Ortega, Vestas.
  • Geoffrey Schmidt, Siemens Gamesa.
  • David Yang, Ørsted.

A partnership of leading global companies, GWO is responsible for a portfolio of training standards designed for the industry, by the industry.

Training modules include basic safety, basic technical, advanced rescue, enhanced first aid, and blade repair with new rigger signal person training standard now available. Training records are verified online through the GWO WINDA database, allowing companies to check the certification status of their employees and potential recruits.

The Global Wind Organisation (GWO) is a non-profit focused on providing standardized safety training and emergency procedures across the industry worldwide. (Courtesy: GWO)

“The wind-turbine industry is growing as the demand for renewable energy is accelerating,” said Brian Walencik, chairman of the GWO North America committee and EHS Leader for GE Wind Onshore. “The challenge we all face is hiring qualified technicians who have recognizable safety training and technical skills so they can more efficiently and effectively help meet demand while reducing total injuries.”

Highlights of the growth of the wind turbine industry include:

  • In April, renewables eclipsed coal generation in the U.S. for the first time. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates renewables outperformed coal by 16 percent in April. Wind energy is now the lowest-cost option for new electricity generation in Canada.
  • Approximately 11 GW of wind capacity is scheduled to come online in 2019 in the U.S., which is the largest amount of capacity installed since 2012. The annual growth rate of wind energy is 20 percent for the past 10 years in Canada.
  • The U.S. wind industry now employs a record 114,000 men and women, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). In Canada, the employment growth rate is similar.
  • “The role of our committee is to determine the best ways to collaborate on standardized training and procedures to benefit the industry, training providers, our employees, and contractors,” Walencik said. “At the end of the day, the goal is simple: safety.”