Houston Wind Turbine Accidents & Injuries
If you’ve been injured, you may benefit from receiving legal guidance from our Houston maritime lawyers. For all of the benefits that wind-produced energy brings, there is a dark side to the wind industry of which many consumers are unaware. There are thousands of documented cases of serious injuries that include reports of turbines falling over, blades flying off, and serious injuries not only to workers but also to members of the general public.
Wind turbines generate their electricity from the wind via the use of complex mechanical and electrical equipment. Due to their widespread manufacture and installation all across the nation, but especially on the wide plains of Texas and in the Gulf Coast, they present a significant risk to workers.
Hazards Presented by Wind Turbines
While this is a growing industry, the hazards are often unique and can present as significant a risk to industry workers as those presented by the oil and gas industry or industrial manufacturing. The hazards associated with the construction and operation of wind turbines on the mainland or in maritime settings include:
- Diving Injuries – Diving operations are a unique hazard of offshore wind parks and include problems with foundation installations, the laying of cables and other infrastructure, regular turbine inspections and maintenance, and eventually decommissioning.
- Collision Injuries – For both mainland and offshore wind parks, this potential hazard is related to the need for helicopter access to offshore facilities, the potential for falls by personnel and personnel transfers between vessels and wind turbines. Offshore operations present the risk of collisions between vessels and turbines or crashes between two or more vessels operating in the same area.
- Evacuation Injuries – Evacuation from offshore wind turbines during an emergency situation such as a fire, explosion, or extreme storm conditions are more difficult in the Gulf. The travel distance to and from shore during emergencies also creates a potential hazard during which workers may be injured.
- Extreme Weather – Offshore wind parks may sometimes be subject to extreme weather conditions. This factor may result in time-related pressures for wind turbine personnel to perform their work as they are forced to comply with tight time constraints that can easily be changed by weather or shipping delays.
- Structural Failures – Because offshore wind turbines are intrinsically exposed to marine environments, the harsh nature of these environments will degrade equipment over time. Wave action, currents, and corrosion are all factors that can negatively affect foundations and equipment over time. Back inland, storms, earthquakes, and rust can all take their toll on wind turbine equipment, leading to failure over time if owners or operators are negligent in their inspections or procedures.
- Equipment Related Injuries – Although the basics of lifting operations involving wind turbines are the same offshore and onshore, Gulf operations can be more difficult. Offshore turbines tend to be larger so the loads involved in their construction are larger and more cumbersome. Extreme weather conditions can lead to dangerous wind loads that can shear off blades during construction. Other dangers during lifting operations include movement of the crane or the vessel assisting with construction, limited working area near a wind turbine, the motion of the turbine itself, and the operation of vehicles near cranes and turbines.
- Falling Injuries – Personnel working in the tower of the nacelle or on construction equipment both offshore and onshore are at significant heights and must climb ladders many times a day. Falling, as well as exposure to dropped objects, is a constant risk for wind turbine operation workers.
- Problems with Space – Once a technician is inside a wind turbine, they encounter confined spaces that augment related hazards such as poor ergonomic positions, awkward postures, and exposure to toxic elements like chemicals, dust, and fumes.
- Spatial Injuries – Workers on wind turbines are constantly confronted by awkward postures, prolonged kneeling or standing, and repetitive body movements in cramped spaces, which can lead to fatigue and long-term injuries.
- Electrical Hazards – Electrical hazards from work performed on or inside a turbine are significant and should be a major concern for wind park operators. These risks include electrical shocks that can cause burns and electrocution. The inherent presence of water in offshore wind farms may augment this risk.
Federal and State Maritime Laws That May Affect You
If your injury involves an offshore wind turbine operating in the Gulf of Mexico, a combination of various federal maritime laws could potentially affect your claim. Maritime laws and regulations that may impact your claim include:
- The Jones Act
- The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
- The Death on the High Seas Act
Because these laws are extraordinarily complex, it is crucial to secure the help of a skilled and knowledgeable Texas attorney who understands not only maritime law but also how wind energy sector companies operate in the Gulf. The attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. have decades of experience pursuing lawsuits under these complicated maritime laws.
How a Houston Wind Turbine Injury Lawyer Can Help
The Krist Law Firm, P.C. has extensive experience with maritime accidents throughout Houston and the state of Texas. Contact us today at 281-283-8500 or by filling out the form below. We offer a free consultation and charge no fees unless you obtain compensation for your case.