Red flag over offshore wind farm fatalities

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Wind energy offshore is a key component of long-term environmental ambitions, particularly in the United Kingdom and Germany, and the sector is expected to be a key energy player for the next 20 years. But suppliers and regulators of vessels and dive contractors should be aware that risks to those employed in offshore wind farm installations are being closely watched.

Three fatal accidents in German waters between 2010 and 2013 are the subject of a report compiled by The Diving Association (DA) and shown exclusively to IHS Maritime.

The report outlines findings that support the DA’s allegation (see IHS Maritime Fairplay 13 March 2014) that investigations into diving accidents are inadequate, and that the three wind farm deaths were “preventable” and “not isolated cases”.

The DA’s report includes allegations of key evidence not being taken into account, including in one case the suitability of a particular vessel for diving operations, the sea state at the time of the incident, and footage from the diver’s helmet camera.

The cases of Richard Wilkinson-Lowe (aged 27, incident occurred in July 2013), Patrick Costello (also aged 27, incident occurred in July 2010), and Stephen O’Malley (aged 48, incident occurred in May 2012), are all closed. However, efforts are under way to obtain a review of the investigations into the deaths of UK citizens Wilkinson-Lowe and O’Malley…

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