Frontpage News News Q4 2017 Lessons learned from a fall incident at a GWO certified Training Provider


Lessons learned from a fall incident at a GWO certified Training Provider

GWO was informed of an incident at a GWO certified Training Provider that included a Delegate falling from approximately 6 meters height during a Working at Heights rescue exercise. 
Immediately upon receiving news of this event, GWO suspended the Training Provider’s right to upload records to WINDA and carry out any further Working at Heights training. The Training Provider was requested to participate actively in an incident investigation with an aim to learn and improve.

During the recent Training for Safety stakeholder event at WindEurope, GWO Chairman Claus Rose summed up GWO’s attitude towards non-compliance and incidents: “Nobody goes to work with the intent to hurt somebody, or to get harmed. Therefore, when incidents occur a clear legally aligned process must be followed, and corrective measures must be taken. It is important to treat the Training Provider fair. Provided the Training Provider works with us - reporting incidents and non-compliance to GWO leads to correction and not punishment. I hope this attitude will spread throughout the community in a positive and constructive way, so that we can learn from mistakes and incidents.”

Incident summary:

The incident investigation showed, that it occurred during the exercise “Rescue of an unconscious casualty secured by his work position lanyard from the outside of the ladder (outside nacelle)”. The exercise at the Training Provider included the use of a Machard knot and cutting the lanyard above the knot to let the casualty descend.

Both of the instructors were positioned onto the tower to assist the students during the exercise, however only one wheeled rescue device was used to perform the practice. This contrast with the premise stated in the GWO standard and the Training Provider’s own GWO manual, pointing out that a second device must always be used as a backup.

Both instructors carried out the practice successfully with no incidents while showing the rescue method. Once one of the trainers had reached the floor, he received a phone call which he deemed necessary to respond to and left the other trainer alone on the tower with the rest of students. The remaining trainer decided not to wait for his colleague to return and continued with the exercise.

Two delegates began the exercise where one pretended to be the casualty and was descended by the other Delegate, acting as the rescuer. After the Delegate cut the lanyard, the Machard knot failed and slipped over the cut tail of the lanyard, which lead to an uncontrolled fall of the Delegate acting as the casualty as he was tied to no additional safety rescue device, from 6 meters height onto the safety mat on the floor below.

The trainer stopped the exercise to check the condition of the injured Delegate. However, after verifying that the Delegate did not present any severe injuries, the trainer decided to proceed with the training. The Delegate later received medical attention and was diagnosed with several minor injuries including friction burns as a result of the Delegate trying to grab onto a rope during his fall and pain in his ankle, with a two-days work leave prescription.

Learning and mitigating measures
The GWO Audit & Compliance Committee worked with the Training Provider to extract learning from the incident, and ensure corrective measures be put in place. 

The learning includes:
Training in advanced rope access techniques such as the use of a Machard knot far exceeds the scope of the GWO Basic Training in Working at Heights. The Machard knot exercise – and similarly advanced techniques - should never be used in a BST Working at Heights course.

In addition, the Training Provider has implemented the following measures:
  • Prohibition of the use of phones during GWO trainings, applying to trainers and students.
  • Use of a dummy whenever possible to avoid unnecessary risks to Delegates
  • Complete GWO Working at Heights instructor training refreshment, imparted by qualified personnel.
  • Inspection and revision of documented procedures, equipment and facilities.
  • Validation of the action by the performance of an extraordinary GWO audit at the Training Provider’s facilities.
Once these measures have been implemented, the Training Provider will undergo a re-certification process before being allowed to re-initiate training.

If you have any information or you have an incident at your facility, GWO highly encourages you to work with us, come forward and inform us by sending an email to

Want to learn more?

Please read the current GWO Standards and Criteria or see our in-depth FAQ-section.
You are always welcome to contact the GWO secretariat here.

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