BlueWise Marine examined Ireland’s offshore wind health and safety guidelines

Commissioned by Wind Energy Ireland (WEI), our recent gap analysis of health and safety regulation for offshore wind energy development in Ireland revealed missing elements relevant to the aviation, maritime and electrical health and safety sectors, informing the ongoing advances in legislation and guidance.

Ireland aims to install 7 GW of offshore wind power capacity by 2030. This will entail an increase in marine surveys as well as the subsequent construction, operations, and maintenance phases of these developments in the coming years.

Offshore wind construction involves complex engineering processes and the use of heavy machinery and equipment, all of which pose significant health and safety risks. Workers on offshore wind farms are exposed to a variety of hazards such as working at heights, exposure to extreme weather conditions, the risk of falling objects, and electrical hazards.

In addition, offshore wind farms are typically located in remote and challenging environments, which can further complicate rescue and emergency response efforts. As a result, it is critical to have health and safety regulations in place to protect workers and ensure that the construction process is carried out safely and efficiently.

BlueWise Marine conducted an initial gap analysis study to identify shortcomings or missing elements, if any, in Ireland’s current health and safety legal framework as it applies to offshore renewable energy (ORE). Overall, the analysis has shown that the gaps in Ireland’s current health and safety framework are minimal, but it has also underlined the need for national guidelines for ORE developers doing business in Ireland.

“As Ireland proceeds with its energy transition, it’s imperative that ORE developers have clarity on the Irish legislative framework and regulatory structures to enable them to plan for safe and efficient development. This is required throughout all phases of an offshore wind farm’s lifecycle, including design, site investigation, construction, operation and decommissioning activities,” said Louise O’Boyle, Senior Project Manager and Director at BlueWise Marine.

“The work BlueWise Marine have completed on behalf of WEI is invaluable to us and the industry in Ireland. As the offshore industry in Ireland grows, the report developed gives the industry a baseline to work from, enabling us all to work towards developing and constructing our projects safely, ” said Michelle Ruane, Safety, Health & Wellbeing Manager – Offshore Wind at SSE Renewables and Chair of the WEI Offshore Safety Working Group.

Wind Energy Ireland (WEI), the representative body for the Irish wind industry, commissioned the study following the discussions within its Working Group on Offshore Safety, which identified the need for an industry specific health and safety guidance document to provide direction and clarity for developers in this emerging sector in Ireland

BlueWise Marine team adopted the “Offshore Wind and Marine Energy Health and Safety Guidelines 2014: Issue 2” developed by Renewables UK (United Kingdom) as the principal benchmark guidance document for this study. The benchmark framework was chosen due to the similarity between the legal framework foundations in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Additionally, geographically speaking, the UK is our nearest neighbor, so non-conflicting regimes would benefit both developers and contractors who are likely to be operating in both jurisdictions.

According to the gap analysis, 90% of the reference benchmark law and guidelines directly matched onto the Irish health and safety legislative framework. Two gaps and four partial gaps were identified relevant to the aviation, maritime and electrical health and safety sectors. Ongoing advances in legislation and guidance are currently in development to help close some of those gaps identified.

This study found that there is substantial legislation and guidance at international, European, and national level already in existence to guide the development of ORE projects. However, there is a need for an overarching  health and safety guidance document to inform and provide clarity to operators in the Irish ORE sector.

Furthermore, the gap analysis identified thirteen regulators and national authoritative agencies relevant to the ORE industry in Ireland. Any future guidance document should provide clarity on roles and responsibilities making it easier for developers to understand Ireland’s health and safety requirements for this sector.

BlueWise Marine and WEI presented the study to the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications along with a report and recommendations to assist in the next developmental steps of a national guidance document for health and safety in the Irish offshore wind industry.


Read the report: “Health & Safety Guidelines for Offshore Wind: An analysis of Ireland’s existing legal framework report”.