Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, has announced (statement here) that SafeWork NSW inspectors are targeting rooftop solar panel installation, as part of our ongoing focus on reducing fatalities and serious injuries in the construction industry.

Most serious solar installation incidents reported to SafeWork include workers falling from ladders, off or through roofs – such as polycarbonate plastic roof sheeting – and electric shock.

Inspectors continue to see unacceptable safety levels in the industry, with some installers using inadequate or no fall protections, or not isolating electrical power.

Getting help

SafeWork has worked with industry to develop a Guide to Safe Solar Panel Installation and a Solar Installers Safety Checklist.

What you can do to work safely

There is no excuse to not have fall and electrical protections in place to protect workers.

When installing solar you must:

  • have a site-specific safe work method statement (SWMS) prepared for each job
  • use scaffold or temporary edge protection (such as roof rails)
  • harness-based systems must only be considered when scaffold or temporary edge protection cannot be used
  • install controls to prevent persons falling through a roof, such as physical covers over skylights, mesh or walking platforms over polycarbonate roof sheeting
  • a fall restraint system must include an anchor plan and enough anchors located in positions so that the worker can traverse the roof safely without reaching a falls hazard
  • provide safe access to the roof. If using a ladder, make sure it’s fixed at the top and base, and extends 1m past the access point
  • ensure the wiring of the solar panel installation is done by someone who holds an electrical contractor licence or an electrical qualified supervisor certificate, or under the supervision of someone who holds an electrical qualified supervisor certificate
  • switch off all sources of electricity to the property and tag them out
  • prove isolation by testing for dead and ensure workers test before they touch
  • ensure workers are trained and supervised, particularly young or inexperienced workers.

On the spot fines of up to $3,600 for businesses and $720 for individuals apply for putting workers lives at risk when working at heights.

For more information on how to work safely when installing rooftop solar panels, see the SafeWork NSW solar panel installation safety webpage, or call 13 10 50.

Source: Safework NSW

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