The maintenance of any dam encompasses a number of activities to be performed on an ongoing and regular basis. Many of the procedures, as outlined by governing bodies, fall under provisions of Dam Safety Surveillance Monitoring Plan.

climbing down dam inspection with full body harness

The inspections, along with the maintenance activities as prescribed by this plan, are designed by the National Hydropower Association in combination with dam operators. Repair and maintenance work are necessary to ensure the flow of power is continuous from the dam. It is also needed for protecting the physical structure of the dam, as well as the lives of the people who live in the vicinity of these massive structures.

What Are The General Categories Of Inspection?

Hydroelectric dam inspections can be divided into a few categories as follows:

  • The initial dam inspection stage, which is comprehensive and encompasses every element of the newly built dam. It has to be tested at the widest possible tolerance level variants, ensuring that the dam will operate as needed under normal conditions.
  • The periodic dam inspections will incorporate visual inspections, along with a variety of other structural evaluations that record the current operating state of the dam.
  • Routine inspections of the dam are conducted as part of regular maintenance needed. These are to be done under federal law by the plant management. The procedures will be scheduled on a recurring basis, or can even be scheduled as part of the other required maintenance tasks.
  • The special inspections will incorporate one or more of the operating areas of the central structure of a dam. Any under-water inspection or special maintenance activity can be conducted as special inspections.
  • If the dam is not functioning properly, there may be a necessity for emergency inspections. While flooding, leaks and equipment failures can be the most drastic reasons to the maintenance events, emergency inspections can also be used to identify any critical failures in the dam.

Special and emergency inspections may need the assistance of highly trained experts in the dam maintenance field.

Safety Requisites

Depending on the area that is to be inspected or maintained, it is the duty of facility managers to ensure that the most appropriate safety measures and right fall arrest equipment are properly used. Catwalks, as well as other walkways in pumping stations and inspections points, should be enclosed with railings. They should only be accessed with the appropriate fall protection equipment. Any fall from the interior or exterior of any dam can be fatal. This is another reason that stresses the need for the proper and efficient usage of fall protection equipment.

Fall Prevention Systems For Dam Safety

The fall protection equipment must be used and maintained properly. Many of the modern dams incorporate anchorage points planned and integrated in their original construction. These have to be regularly inspected for corrosion or cracks to ensure the worker’s safety. It is the duty of the managers to ensure that there are regular checks of all fall protection equipment. Also, before workers use any fall protection equipment, they must be properly check and inspect the equipment for any signs of damage or excessive wear. If any such signs are visible, the equipment’s must be changed immediately. Also, any fall protection harness or lanyard involved in a fall, should be replaced.