Test Site Operations & Maintenance Safety

Site Equipment, Environmental Compliance, and Safety


A Sandian working at height on a SWiFT turbine/nacelle with proper safety equipment and self-rescue kit.

Sandia is creating and maintaining environment, safety, and health (ES&H) documentation for operating the Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) facility at Texas Tech University (TTU)—developing the safety environment, and providing the necessary employee training. All ES&H documentation

  • job safety analyses,
  • preliminary hazard screenings, and
  • technical work documents

will be maintained and updated to support Sandia testing facilities and processes. This task will also support the labor-time and course costs for two site leads at SWiFT.

Safe world-class wind testing facilities, that minimize any negative environmental impact, must be sustained. This element of the Sandia responsibility at SWiFT seeks to develop and maintain a safe and environmentally friendly facility to be used by DOE, Sandia, other laboratories, industrial entities, and academic institutions to develop new technologies and reduce the cost of wind energy. By adhering to compliance standards (10 CFR 851) and getting ES&H processes in place, Sandia will ensure the safety of personnel and investigators performing research and operations and maintenance (O&M) at SWiFT.


Successful rotor removal using safe lifting techniques and proper rigging.

Sandia and TTU staff will collaborate on creating the safety-based environment at SWiFT. A safety team will develop, review, and update SWiFT facility safe work operations and procedures. Work authorization forms will be compared to the operating envelope (OE) before work acceptance. Primary hazard screenings are performed to identify the hazards before work is initiated. Engineered safety practices are employed to remove potential hazards when possible. Job safety analyses evaluate a specific activity or task; identify the hazards; and list controls, personal protective equipment (PPE), or training needed to mitigate the hazards. A standard operating procedure is used to define the process steps for a given work activity. Technical work documents are written for any activity where the hazard level is higher than a Standard Industrial Hazard. These safety reviews are used to guarantee a safe work environment.

Safety training sessions are conducted by professionals in their fields and comply with OSHA 10 CRF 851 requirements. Training includes, but is not limited to: aerial lift operation, forklift operation, competent climber/self and assisted rescue, rigging and hoisting, electricity > 50 Volts, chemical safety, machining safety, pressure safety, lock-out tag-out (LOTO), confined space, and many others. The TTU staff lead for SWiFT is a trainer for Competent Climbing/Fall Protection, allowing for on-the-job climb training for special access to the wind turbines. Each course requires refresher training, so this effort also tracks and manages retraining requirements.


Sandians performing annual tower rescue training and certification.

The Sandia project team has recently performed: an ES&H site walk-through with the division ES&H coordinator; an occupational exposure assessment for the activities that occur at SWiFT with Sandia Industrial Hygiene; an arc flash analysis of the various components for the turbines with a Sandia electrical advisor; and a “Preliminary Hazard Screening” for site O&M.

Our future project goals are to develop:

  • a Rotor Removal/Installation TWD;
  • LOTO procedures for turbine, nacelle, and rotor work; and
  • operational procedures, including
  • remote monitoring,
  • remote access, and
  • forecasting and planning of weather impact on site work.

Test Facilities Capital Equipment

Sandia will continue to make strategic capital investments to (a) support and maintain the Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) facility and activities and (b) ensure the facility’s readiness. Capital-equipment purchases are made to improve facility assets, acquire equipment required to meet safety goals, and build a spare-parts inventory to maximize site “uptime.” Investments are prioritized according to safety plans and research goals.


Aerial view showing new roads at SWiFT, which will provide all-weather access and allow year-round R&D activities.

This activity supports the SWiFT facility by providing critical capital investments to complete the DOE mission. Well-planned capital purchases will keep the site operating at a high capacity and prepared for research projects and industry testing—prioritizing safety over all other priorities.

The goal of this activity is to maximize SWiFT’s safe usage and optimize its readiness. An additional objective is to purchase items to continuously improve SWiFT operations as the facility matures.

The Sandia project team has recently

  1. added an access roads to the facility,
  2. installed a web-based video camera for remote monitoring,
  3. purchased tooling to populate the machine shop in Building 350 (the SWiFT Assembly Building), and
  4. purchased backup controller and sensors.

The SWiFT Assembly Building includes tools for minor machining.

Our future project goals are to annually review the next fiscal year research objectives, then budget and plan the capital investments for the following year.