With three offshore wind farms set to be built in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 20 miles south of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, training for the personnel who will construct them is critical. To meet this need, Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) is now providing a broad range of training to recognized Global Wind Organization (GWO) standards.
In 2018, MMA received funding from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to build its GWO Training Center at the academy’s Maritime Center for Responsible Energy (MCRE). The GWO Training Center consists of a waterfront Crew Transfer Training Facility (CTTF), a 25-foot Crew Transfer Training Vessel, and a Working at Heights training facility. At the end of 2019, MMA, in cooperation with Copenhagen, Denmark headquartered safety training specialist RelyOn Nutec, began offering the globally recognized GWO Basic Safety Training (BST) at its Buzzards Bay, Mass., campus, becoming the first facility in the U.S. to offer all five modules of GWO BST for Offshore Wind.
“It’s a fact that the clean energy industry is growing, and we are taking steps to be involved in this unique opportunity,” said Rear Adm. Francis McDonald, USMS, president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. “One of the most important ways we can contribute is by training the men and women who will be on the front lines of this emerging industry.”
The GWO BST course, consists of five modules: Working at Heights, First Aid, Fire Awareness, Manual Handling, and Sea Survival. The modules are taught by MMA instructors whose goal is to have participants gain an awareness of the hazards encountered when working in the wind industry and how to control and mitigate against those hazards.
“The developers of these wind farms are all requiring that anyone working on these sites must complete Basic Safety Training,” said Jenni Lewis, managing director of RelyOn Nutec Gulf of Mexico. “We found the perfect match cooperating with MMA. Our subject matter experts and instructors have a deep understanding of working in high-risk environments and have first-hand experience of the potential risks in the renewables industry. MMA has the experience to deliver this critical course, ensuring quality training to the people who will be out on open water building the wind turbines.”
Members of Pile Drivers and Divers Local 56, the marine construction local of the North Atlantic States Carpenters Union, are taking advantage of the course.
“This training is critical to our members,” said Dave Borrus, business manager of Local 56. “The opportunity to work in the clean energy industry is great for our members but there are occupational risks, too. Safety must be at the forefront of each member’s mind, and this training is helping them understand and prepare for the hazards they may face.”
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is sponsoring Local 56 members’ participation with a $100,000 Workforce Development Grant. The North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund (NASCTF) has co-sponsored training with an addition $50,000. So far, 39 members have graduated from the course, including three at the instructor level, and an additional 24 individuals are scheduled to participate in October and November.
Training consists of both classroom and practical exercises. Participants acquire knowledge and confidence by learning the practical skills they need through practice. Students learn the proper use of personal protective equipment, emergency equipment, and procedures with the end result being able to appropriately respond in the event of an emergency.
According to Capt. Mike Burns, executive director of the academy’s MCRE, “Every group that has gone through the training has been exceptional. The participants are highly skilled professionals who understand the importance of safety in this industry. It’s our honor to help them prepare for the next phase in their careers.”