Green energy continues to be a growing trend. Hydropower (or hydroelectric power) is the biggest source of renewable energy worldwide. Besides being renewable, it’s –
Emission-free. Reliable. Adjustable.
Hydroelectric plants essentially are dams, creating lakes and reservoirs. This attracts tourism — which then boosts local economies. Additionally, the development of hydro plants speeds up the development of nearby land, building new communities.
Despite the many hydropower benefits, however, hydroelectric plants can also present serious safety problems and scenarios. Developers, owners, and management must come together to be aware of all potential hazards. Protocol and safety measures should then be created for the health and safety of all.
Here are a couple of tips for creating a safe environment in your hydropower station.
Most catastrophes can be avoided with the proper planning. In both the creation of the power station and the actual day-to-day workflow, planning is critical. Make sure to:
- Design plants with safety in mind.
- Understand building codes, regulations, and insurance requirements.
- Create workflow systems that promote and ensure safety.
- Implement proper and regular training — provide codes/protocols in writing.
- Make safety awareness part of the culture (this is vital!).
- Maintain quality (and upgraded) equipment.
Because hydropower plants are predominately underground and below water level, flooding is one of the most dangerous situations plants face. Protect workers with fast-acting flood alarms and multiple evacuation routes. Sufficient lighting is also vital as there is little natural light in hydro stations. Engineer turbines to keep pumping and draining water, and automatically shut gates and valves. This is all to keep floodwaters at bay while workers exit the plant.
Fire and smoke are also extremely hazardous. The smoke thickens quickly and can be more dangerous than the fire itself. Fires must be rapidly detected, and alarms sounded to give workers time to evacuate. Protect employees with advanced fire protection systems that include passive measures such as fire-rated materials; active measures such as sprinklers, proper venting, and actual fire-fighting equipment; and operational standards that include procedures for both prevention and response.
Your priority is getting people out before things become too hazardous. If that isn’t possible, you must plan how to get people out during a crisis. Once you have those procedures in place, you can then think about protecting the plant itself.
The Hierarchy of Control
In all safety measures, whether with something dangerous, or something seemingly more minor — like freshly mopped floors, keep the hierarchy of control in mind as you seek the safety of your staff.
- ELIMINATE the hazard —if that’s not possible –
- SUBSTITUTE the hazard with something of a lesser risk —if that’s not possible –
- ISOLATE the danger from workers as much as you can —if that’s not achievable –
- ENGINEER controllable factors (such as machinery and equipment) by keeping them maintained and upgraded. Then, look to –
- ADMINISTRATION to provide the training, create the workflows, institute the policies that help control the risk factors, and –
- PPE, the final tier, providing the personal protective equipment necessary to keep your personnel as safe as possible.
At Gillmann Services, safety is one of our top priorities. Focusing on commercial, industrial, mining, manufacturing, and marine construction, we are dedicated to supplying quality talent to our customers. “We Work for You” is our motto, and our pledge to every client and employee. Contact us today.