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Frequently asked questions

Legislation

Does HSE plan to introduce new legislation to specifically cover emerging energy industries?

The principles of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc (HSWA) have stood as an effective framework for the control and management of risks in the workplace for almost 40 years.  The flexibility of the Act, which has been proven by the changes in industry over the past 40 years, without the need to change the fundamental legislation means that HSE has no current plans to introduce new legislation specifically focused on new energy technologies.  HSE will continue to monitor the application of health and safety legislation to all areas of emerging energy to ensure that hazards are managed and controlled effectively.

Will HSE be applying the health and safety regulations associated with the offshore oil and gas sector to offshore wind development?

No, HSE has not identified a current need to extend the permissioning regime adopted in the offshore oil and gas sector to offshore wind development.  HSE has reported on a programme of work 'Health and safety in the new energy economy' reviewing the health and safety hazards associated with key emerging energy technologies, including offshore wind power.  This work concluded that the existing legislative framework, established under the Health and Safety at Work Act etc (HSWA) is sufficiently flexible and comprehensive to manage the hazards associated with emerging energy technologies.

Offshore

What are HSE’s plans when the 2011 Variation Order to the Application Outside of Great Britain Order (AOGBO) expires in 2013?

HSE has been working with industry to further understand the processes and risks in those offshore emerging renewable energy technologies and this information is being used by HSE to develop the new Order which HSE is planning to introduce in April 2013.

Does HSE plan to extend the provisions of Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) to apply offshore?

CDM regulations apply within the territorial sea and to the limited range of activities set out in article 8(1)(a) of the AOGBO which are:  the construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, maintenance, cleaning, use, operation, demolition and dismantling of any building, energy structure or other structure, not being in any case a vessel, or any preparation for any such activity.  The general duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act etc (HSWA) do apply to wind-farms beyond the territorial sea therefore, it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that following CDM principles will help to ensure compliance with HSWA.

Small scale generation

Will HSE regulate small-scale commercial microgeneration facilities?

HSE’s focus has always been on the hazards and risks associated with work activities.  Therefore, HSE has an interest in the installation and maintenance of microgeneration facilities when carried out as a work activity.

How should businesses install and maintain microgeneration technologies?

To provide consumer confidence that products and installers meet robust standards the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) established the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). This aims to certify products and installers against robust criteria. MCS is an internationally recognised quality assurance scheme, which demonstrates the installer is committed to meeting rigorous and tested standards. The scheme involves type testing of products and an assessment of the manufacturing processes, materials, procedures and staff training.

Planning

What is HSE’s role in the planning process?

In Great Britain, the planning process which decides whether any proposed use of land is acceptable or not is controlled by the relevant Local Planning Authority (LPA). Certain things will trigger consultation with HSE, which will respond as appropriate to the LPA. For example HSE will comment in England and Wales, where the generating capacity is >50MW (100MW offshore).

General

What are HSE’s responsibilities in respect of renewable energy technologies in the UK? HSE is responsible for:-

  • Enforcing general health and safety at work legislation:-
  • During construction
  • During maintenance
  • Where technology is used as part of a work undertaking
  • Regulating product safety issues where machines are designed/supplied for use at work.
  • Commenting as a statutory consultee at the land use planning stage if appropriate.

HSE is not responsible for:-

  • Contributing at the land use planning stage (except in special circumstances)
  • Setting separation distances between wind turbines and buildings, roads or similar.
  • Product safety legislation for small/micro technology for non-work purposes.

How does HSE decide whether to investigate an incident involving renewable energy technologies?

Where incidents occur at wind energy sites that are workplaces, a decision whether HSE would investigate would be made in line with HSE’s established incident/accident investigation procedures.

Does HSE regulate the production of domestic Biodiesel?

HSE does not regulate the production of Bio Fuels unless in a work environment, HSE does offer guidance on its web site concerning domestic production of biodiesel, and indeed advises against such production by those who are not trained in handling dangerous substances.  The status of that guidance is advisory as it cannot be enforced in a domestic setting, unless it can be shown that those producing the biodiesel are at work.

Updated 2013-03-14