Safety considerations when installing rooftop solar

Australia’s solar market is pretty big compared to other countries. As of 2013, there were more than 1 million residential rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems in operation, according to a report from the Climate Commission.

The organisation noted that the total number of such installations more than tripled between 2010 and the end of 2012. Throughout the latter year, 70 per cent of new electricity generation capacity came from PV.

It’s clear that solar power isn’t going away, and homeowners throughout the country are interested in the technology. However, installing these systems poses a number of working at heights risks, all of which workers need to address.

Asking the right questions

The US Occupational Safety & Health Administration noted that people who install or service solar panels are inherently exposed to fall hazards. In addition, the greater number of panels a person has to install, the higher the risk of falling victim to an accident, as he or she has to spend more time at heights.

When putting two or more solar panels on a house, multi-tenant structure or some other buildings, workers should take general height safety rules into consideration. This involves asking a number of questions, such as:

  • Are personnel operating at an incline or on a flat surface?
  • Are there railings around the edge of the roof?
  • How heavy are the solar panels?
  • Do staff have the necessary equipment to safely lift the solar panels into position?

Installing fall arrest equipment such as anchor point systems can effectively eliminate or mitigate many of the hazards associated with PV panel installation. However, these particular solutions must be compliant with Australian regulations.

A point anchor being used by a single person must be designed to handle a load of 15 kilonewtons

Checking equipment

WorkSafe Victoria listed several design requirements by which in-use anchor point systems must abide. For instance, as per Australian Standard AS 1891, a point anchor being used by a single person must be designed to handle a load of 15 kilonewtons (kN). In addition, when two people are attached to a single point anchor, its load capacity must increase by 6 kN.

Just as professionals must assess their anchor point systems’ strength, personnel are also obligated to check the resiliency of the structures to which the fall arrest solutions are attached. For example, if a roof is incapable of supporting an anchor point system, then another fall arrest product may be the better option.

If you’d like to learn more about which height safety system is ideal for solar panel installation, contact Anchor Safe Systems today.