OSHA opens investigation into second wind turbine accident

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PRATT, Kan. (KSNW) – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Wichita office has opened a second investigation at the Ninnescah Wind Farm following the reported hospitalization of worker on July 6, 2016.

Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn said in a news release Thursday 26-year-old Gary Newman was working approximately 100 feet above the ground inside a turbine tower when a 4 lb., 10″ bolt fell from more than 100 feet above him, striking him in the head.

Newman was knocked unconscious, but other workers were able to lower him to the ground where he re-gained consciousness. He was taken to the Kingman Hospital where they were met by a medical helicopter and was flown to a Wichita area hospital. Chin said Newman was not wearing a helmet at the time of the incident.

Another worker fell from a wind turbine in the same general area last week. That worker was taken to a Wichita hospital in critical condition.

“Wind Energy workers are exposed to many hazards that can result in fatalities and serious injuries such as falls, struck by, electrical shocks and crushing injuries. While wind energy is a growing industry, the hazards are not unique and OSHA has many standards that cover these working conditions,” said Judy Freeman, OSHA’s Area Director in Wichita. “Wind energy employers on this site and elsewhere need to evaluate their safety and health programs to ensure they are protecting their workers from workplace hazards.”

On July 5, OSHA opened an investigation at the Ninnescah Wind Farm after a 41-year-old worker fell approximately 120 feet on July 3, while conducting wind turbine maintenance. He remains hospitalized. He and another employee of Wind Composite Services Group LLC of Houston, Texas, were working from a suspended work platform when it dropped.  The second worker was suspended by his lifeline and was able to lower himself down to the platform.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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