25th January, 2021
Source; Wind Farm Living
WorkSafe Senior Inspector
1 Malop St.
Geelong, VIC 3220
Attention: WorkSafe Victoria Senior Inspector,
RE: Formal Complaint: Unprotected Power Plant operating at the Macarthur Wind Farm, Gerrigerrup Road, Hawkesdale, Vic.
I have attempted on multiple occasions to alert WorkSafe Victoria to the dangerous practices currently being undertaken by AGL at the Macarthur Wind Farm site, Gerrigerrup Road, Hawkesdale. I am so concerned about the great risk to both the workers and the public that I feel it necessary to put my complaint in writing.
I understand wind turbines are ‘Plant’ (refer to S 74(1)(j) of the OH&S Regulations Act 2017) which generate power and as such the Australian Standards for Power Plant Safety Regulations should apply. At this site I observed the Power Plant equipment (i.e., the turbines) operating in an unsafe manner without any observable measures in place to mitigate against public risk.
The area surrounding the turbines is completely unsecured with no protective fencing (refer to picture 1 below). The unlocked rural gate and wire fencing allows for unrestricted public access (refer to picture 4 below) to each of the turbines and their proximity to the road poses a high risk to both pedestrians and vehicles such as cyclists or school buses.
I was also alarmed to observe a person working underneath the fast-spinning blades of the turbine, without any personal protective equipment (refer to picture number 2 below).
As you are aware, the incident at the Dundonnell Wind Farm in October 2020 (refer to picture 3 below) highlights the potential for catastrophic blade failure. There is high risk associated with the blades breaking away from the turbines, creating dangerous projectiles. This should be of great concern to Work Safe Victoria.
I am wondering why AGL is permitted to operate its industrial turbines on rural land without the standard Power Plant industry safety controls in place. One would expect that the management strategies as set out in the OH&S Regulations Act 2017 (Sections 96-98) would apply to this industrial site, including the implementation of the following safety measures:
- Establish a one kilometre “No-Go Zone” radius around the turbine, to minimise injury or death due to catastrophic blade
- Install security fencing around the perimeter of the “No-Go Zone”.
- Install a locked security gate and a formalised management system for access and egress to the “No-Go Zone”.
- Use engineering controls to turn the spinning blades off when a person enters the “No-Go Zone”.
- Decommission and remove any turbine if the 1-km “No-Go Zone” cannot be established on the Host Owner’s land.
As Moyne Shire erects over 700 wind turbines throughout its densely populated rural communities, close to townships and homes, the chances of a fatality occurring is significant and increasing. To the extent a fatality does occur at one of these windfarms, clarification is required as to the party that would be liable to prosecution under the newly introduced Workplace Manslaughter legislation. Clarity
needs to be provided as to whether it would be:
a) the Host Farmer for allowing any unprotected workers to venture onto the industrial site;
b) the Business Owner for not securing the industrial site; or
c) the Moyne Shire Councillors for managing the wind farm permits without the requisite safety compliance conditions in place.
My concerns are based on current power plant industry standards, and I believe that Victorian Work Place Safety Laws should be strictly enforced in this case. I also believe it is incumbent on WorkSafe Victoria to thoroughly investigate my complaint and oversee the Work Health and Safety policies and procedures implemented by AGL at the Macarthur Wind Farm as a matter of urgency, before the first
death by turbine failure occurs in the Moyne Shire.
I note this letter is on record as a complaint about the public safety concerns of the operations of the Macarthur Wind Farm, and that this letter will be distributed to all and sundry as a record of my complaint.
Download for complete document and images at Gate 14.