Floating wind: let’s not let safety sink

Last month was a momentous one for those of us who work alongside the renewables industry. The world’s first floating offshore wind farm began delivering electricity to the grid.

Located about 25 kilometres off the coast of Peterhead in Scotland, the Hywind Scotland project is not particularly far from shore. But floating turbine designers aim to go much, much further.

The whole point about floating foundations is they can be towed out to places where the water is too deep for existing bottom-attached structures. That extra distance means far more energy can now be harvested from the wind above the waves.

But it also means construction and operations teams must travel further to get on site, and there is greater distance to travel in the event of an incident.

So while the advent of floating offshore wind is great news for the industry, it also means project owners will need to revisit safety protocols and procedures.

As part of this, it will be vital to make sure all personal protective equipment (PPE) is properly maintained and checked.

Many offshore wind operators are already switching from manual inspection tracking methods to smart PPE management systems such as Papertrail.

It’s a move that not only improves safety, but also boosts efficiency and reduces costs, both of which are important considerations in the ongoing struggle to cut the levelised cost of energy for offshore wind.

Recent developments might mean it is a good idea to float the idea at your company, too.

Find out how one offshore wind contractor is maintaining an unblemished safety record with help from Papertrail.

Welcome to the wind farm technician’s worst hour

It’s a pretty thankless task, saving the world. Those massive wind turbines turning far out to sea need careful nurturing as they fight global warming and bring down the cost of energy.

To look after these gigantic machines, technicians must rise with the first light and prepare meticulously for the day ahead.

Each technician travels many hours a day, from home to a distant port and then out into the vast ocean, enduring drizzle, cold and wind. Then they climb into the belly of an air-slicing monster and scale hundreds of feet into the grey North Sea sky.

There they must stay alert for the tiniest details, like the hairline crack that gives away a budding blade failure or the flicker on a boroscope that signals a gearbox in trouble.

The work must be done carefully but fast: fading light, changing tide, wind picking up, a storm front moving in, can all add to the pressure to work as quickly as possible.

Still, though, every observation must be meticulously noted down, because tomorrow another technician could be climbing these same rungs and looking for the same hairline crack. Then it’s back to the vessel and the long, cold trip back to port.

All the technician wants to do now is get home, to a warm supper. They can’t, though. Instead, they must go to the office and log every note, every incident, every update, into the system, so tomorrow’s crews know where to go and what to look for.

That final hour, cursing as numb fingers make mistakes and numb neurons search for details, is the offshore wind farm technician’s worst. But it need not be so.

With Papertrail, the nightmare hour ceases to exist, because everything they do can be logged as they work. A crack on a blade? Save the photo on Papertrail. A check that a safety hatch is in working order? Add it to Papertrail. A missing harness? Notify it on Papertrail.

Then, as soon as the technician comes within reach of a mobile or Wi-Fi network, the notes on their mobile device flow seamlessly onto the system. So the technician steps off the vessel, waves goodbye, and heads home to get a good night’s rest before the next day.

 Working in renewables? Find out more about how Papertrail can make your life easier.

How smart PPE management is helping training firms

It’s increasingly clear that smart personal protective equipment (PPE) management can help companies with workforces operating in challenging conditions. But what of the companies that train those workforces?

If you are a training company specialising in, say, working at height, then taking good care of your PPE is as important for you as it is for your clients. Perhaps more so, in fact, since you’re supposed to lead by example.

No small wonder, then, that training companies have been among those moving quickest to embrace smart PPE. Take XI Training , one of the leading working-at-height compliance specialists in the UK.

XI Training used to use Microsoft Excel and Ideagen Q-Pulse systems for document management and compliance reporting. But Barry McLeod, sales and marketing manager, says it was “proving to be extremely onerous due to the volume of kit.”

The company switched to Papertrail … and the results have been spectacular. For one client, with operations in Shetland, XI Training estimates the switch from manual to smart PPE systems may have cut down time and effort by 60%.

XI Training is also benefiting from easier audits and greater all-round efficiency. McLeod says Papertrail is “good for clients, good for XI Training and good for colleagues who enjoy using the platform.”

Nor is XI Training alone on this. Other training companies, from C2 Vertical Safety in Sweden to 5th Point in Australia, are using Papertrail to wave goodbye to lost administration time, errors and poor asset utilisation. What about you?

Video shows the benefits of smart PPE management

If you were at the A+A international trade fair and congress last week then you’ve probably got a head full of good ideas about health and safety at work.

Maybe you’ve come back with tips for clothes that will keep your employees dryer and warmer, or thoughts about how to save workers trapped in a sinking car. Don’t forget about the need for smarter personal protective equipment (PPE) management, though.

Being able to track the status of your PPE quickly and easily isn’t just about cutting administration effort and cost, but also about maintaining safer operations.

Admittedly, working out whether it is worth the effort to change from your current management system can be difficult, though.

That is why we have just published an animated video to show the benefits of Papertrail combined with DMM, which offers our platform as its standard PPE management system for customers.

The video shows how smart PPE management can benefit sectors ranging from renewable energy to travel and tourism. It also demonstrates how keeping track of PPE information can be done without the need for a single keystroke thanks to barcode reading.

Most important, though, it illustrates how you can make sure you always have compliant, in-date equipment available for any job, by using Papertrail to track equipment  inspections and certifications.

Meet the companies managing PPE in a smarter way

Safety should always be top of mind in the workplace. But the upcoming A+A international trade fair and congress is a good excuse to make sure your health and safety systems are all up to scratch and in line with the latest best practice.

The show is always a great way to learn about safety-enhancing products and to exchange tips with industry peers. And if you look after personal protective equipment (PPE), it’s not just new products you should be checking out.

Companies around the world are also benefiting from smarter PPE management systems, which can help cut costs while improving safety.

The Australian working-at-height training firm 5th Point, for example, uses Papertrail to overcome what it calls the “daunting prospect” of inspecting industrial rope access equipment.

5th Point relies on equipment provided by DMM, which offers Papertrail as its standard PPE management system for customers.

Using the system, “you’re looking at saving up to 90% of your administration time during an inspection,” says Robert Partridge, product manager, without having an impact on health and safety standards.

That is probably why it has been adopted by companies whose workers operate in some of the harshest conditions in the world.

Technicians at Offshore Painting Services, for instance, maintain wind turbines out in the North Sea and cannot afford to work with faulty PPE.

The company uses Papertrail to help safeguard the integrity of its equipment, and has yet to suffer a lost-time incident despite logging hundreds of thousands of on-site man-hours.

If that’s the kind of PPE safety record you would like for your company, then book a demo or join us at A+A in Düsseldorf, Germany, from October 17 to 20.

  • Visit Papertrail at A+A at the DMM (Hall 6/F40) and SingingRock (Hall 6/C48) stands.

Do you know what PPE management really is?

If you’re heading to the A+A international trade fair and congress then it’s a fair bet you already know what personal protective equipment (PPE) is. But are you on top of PPE management?

While PPE is all about equipping your people with things that will keep them safe, PPE management is about knowing those things are up to the task: that they are not out of date, have passed all relevant inspections and so on.

It is important because in PPE the status of an item can be just as important as its availability. A harness that is not in its legal inspection date, for example, is no more use than no harness at all.

For all its importance, though, PPE management is still often relegated to the status of an administrative chore. And in fairness, managing PPE with manual methods such as spreadsheets can be a pain. But there is no need for it.

With systems such as Papertrail, you can make sure PPE management is simple, standardised and robust. If you want to know more, then why not start with the following online resources:

And if you are still hungry for information then book a demo or look us up at A+A in Düsseldorf, Germany, from October 17 to 20.

  • Visit Papertrail at A+A at the DMM (Hall 6/F40) and SingingRock (Hall 6/C48) stands.

Where PPE meets the Internet of Things

There’s a comment in the A+A international trade fair and congress programme that we couldn’t agree with more.

“The use of new materials and of smart and innovative approaches enables solutions to be developed that substantially enhance safety and the protection of health,” it says.

We back that sentiment 100% because at Papertrail we are working hard to increase the penetration of such smart solutions in the market.

As we mention in a recent white paper, adding intelligence to personal protective equipment (PPE) systems can help improve safety not only by making it easier for asset owners to check on the status of equipment, but also by improving quality control.

“Smart PPE systems can be integrated with manufacturer inventory databases so equipment data can be imported seamlessly and easily,” the paper says.

“This integration allows equipment owners to create and maintain a ‘digital certificate of ownership’ that registers every significant point in the lifespan of an item, from purchase through to disposal.

“Such certificates could be invaluable in quality control, for example in helping prevent the sale of fake items or in giving reassurance to buyers of second-hand material.”

More widely, smart systems such as Papertrail represent a step towards a future where every PPE item can be tracked, queried and evaluated in real time, as part of the Internet of things.

It’s an evolution we are very excited to be a part of, and hope to discuss more widely at A+A in Düsseldorf, Germany, from October 17 to 20. See you there.

  • Visit Papertrail at A+A at the DMM (Hall 6/F40) and SingingRock (Hall 6/C48) stands.

Checking on your lone workers? What about their kit?

Looking after lone workers is a big responsibility. If you have an employee, such as a security guard or night watchman, who is on their own for long stretches of time then you need to make sure they can get help if they are in trouble.

This need has spawned a small technology industry addressing the fact that many lone workers, of which there are about 4 million in the UK alone, may not be able to able to use their mobile phones to call for help in the event of a problem.

In the UK, for example, SoloProtect supplies a device called the Identicom that provides personal safety features along with identity badge functionality for organisations such as the National Health Service.

If a health worker is in a potentially confrontational situation with no other staff around, by discretely pressing their identity card they can activate a hotline to an alarm receiving centre where an agent will record what is going on and send help if needed.

German firm LIV tec goes a step further with a gadget that will broadcast a user’s location if the bearer stops moving for a suspiciously long amount of time.

Such technologies can bring help to someone in trouble at a remote location, but they cannot prevent people from getting into trouble in the first place.

For that, you need to make sure that the equipment a worker is relying on does not cause an accident… and can be fully relied upon if it is needed.

An intruder alarm that fails to work, a fire door that will not open or a flare that will not ignite are all examples of equipment problems that can be challenging in any situation, but are potentially much worse when you have nobody around for backup.

And if you are equipping your lone workers with some form of alarm-giving device, you need to make sure the technology itself works whenever it is needed.

Thus the only way to really keep your lone workers as safe as possible is to make sure the items they may have to rely on are checked regularly, and any defects are logged in a way that is easy to see and assists with quick remediation.

Doing this is easy with a system such as Papertrail, which can help you schedule inspections at regular intervals and check that each inspection has been carried out. Don’t let your people leave without having it in place.

How Rope Access Generates Significant Cost Savings

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Creating operational efficiencies is a core service offering at Papertrail. We pride ourselves on finding ways to reduce compliance, asset management and health and safety costs. The more clients save, the more they can drive forward innovation and generate healthy profits.

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