The International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) has recently worked in collaboration with Survival Systems USA in Groton, CT, to offer Global Wind Organization (GWO) Basic Training to elevator technicians/constructors who install, maintain, service, and repair wind industry equipment. According to Survival Systems, the GWO Basic Safety Training program (GWO-BST) “was created as the safety standard for those working at height in the wind industry. It is globally recognized and ensures that any GWO-BST certificate holder has demonstrated competence and proficiency.”
The United States Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy estimates that the average wind turbine is typically between 300 – 500 feet tall1. That would be a very big ladder for a wind service technician to have to climb to access the nacelle, which is the turbine’s electromechanical system comprised of the generator, turbine shaft, gearbox, and other components. This is a task that must be carried out regularly, as this complex and sensitive equipment requires regular maintenance and occasional repair. In order to make these trips safer and more efficient, a good percentage of wind turbines are equipped with elevators inside their towers. Because these types of elevators are built, maintained, serviced, and repaired by elevator constructors who have been doing this work for 125 years, it was a natural fit for them to continue to work safely on conveyances within this new equipment.
Today, highly-trained elevator mechanics from across the United States not only keep wind turbine elevators running, they do it efficiently, and above all else, safely. IUEC-affiliated companies currently maintain wind turbine elevators from the west coast all the way to the east coast, including those at Deepwater Wind’s trailblazing Block Island Wind Farm, the country’s first commercial offshore wind farm.
Through the new training program at Survival Systems USA, elevator technicians/constructors who work on wind technology equipment become certified in the following areas:
- GWO BST-1005 Basic Safety Training
- GWO BST-WAH-1002 Work at Height
- GWO BST-MH-102 Manual Handling
- GWO BST-FA-2002 Medic First Aid + Trauma
- GWO BST-FA-101 Fire Awareness
- GWO-SS GWO Sea Survival
- GWO-EFA Enhanced First Aid
- GWO-ART Advanced Rescue Training
This training is in addition to the four-plus year USDOL-Registered Apprenticeship training program that IUEC members complete through the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP). NEIEP apprenticeship includes eight semesters of classroom instruction along with 8,000 hours of supervised on-the-job learning. The intense, safety-focused core curriculum covers all facets of erecting, constructing, installing, altering, testing, repairing, and maintaining elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other related conveyance equipment.
IUEC members’ competencies include:
- Ability to work at height
- Mechanical aptitude
- Ability to follow instruction
- Analytical skills
- Ability to work effectively in small teams
- High/low voltage wiring
- Control wiring and diagnostics
- Hydraulics and pipe fitting
- Electro-mechanics and motors
All of these skills transfer easily to the wind industry.
In addition, during their apprenticeship, IUEC members earn certifications in OSHA 10-hour for General Industry and Construction, American Heart Association Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED, Competent Person training for Framed and Suspended Scaffolding (through the SAIA), and industry-specific crane rigging and signaling. Our CSPR Rigging and Signaling certification is accredited as a 17024 Personnel Certification Program by ANSI and is therefore held to the most rigorous standards in the industry. The process used by ANSI to accredit certification bodies is based on an international standard (ISO/IEC 17011). Adherence to a rigorous internationally recognized accreditation process ensures that the ANSI process conforms to the highest accreditation standard, and represents the best practices in accreditation. ANSI is the only personnel certification accreditation body in the United States to meet nationally accepted practices for accreditation bodies.
All apprenticeship training and continuing education courses, including those conducted at Survival Systems USA in Connecticut, are covered by members’ education benefit, so there are no additional out-of-pocket costs for IUEC members to attend.
Wind power generation is a global industry, and safety is the number one priority for companies operating within this space. Compare the specific skills needed for installation, repair, maintenance, and inspection of wind turbines against the checklist of core competencies of IUEC mechanics –the skills IUEC members master during their training and apply in their work with a broad range of conveyance equipment meet and exceed those required by the wind industry. IUEC mechanics have the education and experience necessary to fulfill the needs of the wind power industry; this new collaboration with Survival Systems USA will equip our mechanics with the specialized skills required to take wind technology to new heights.
1 “Wind Turbines: the Bigger, the Better” Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, accessed January 23, 2023, https://www.energy.gov/eere/articles/wind-turbines-bigger-better#:~:text=A%20wind%20turbine’s%20hub%20height,as%20the%20Statue%20of%20Liberty!