Solar panel installers focus of new safety blitz

Solar panels installed across a metal roof.

NSW Government and SafeWork NSW sharpening focus on installation practices of solar panel installers

SafeWork NSW, in conjunction with the NSW Government, are launching an inspection blitz focusing on installers of rooftop solar panels. The targeting comes as the increased popularity of residential solar panels have seen installation rates surge in recent months.

This has sparked fears that to try and meet growing demand, safe working at heights practices could be left by the wayside, exposing workers to increased risk of suffering a fall from a roof while installing a solar panel system.

As solar panels are typically installed on a roof, there is a risk that installers could suffer serious injury resulting from height either from a ladder, through a skylight or off the edge of a roof.

The new safety blitz is taking the form of increased unannounced inspections from SafeWork NSW inspectors as well as the production of a new workplace safety guide tailored specifically to the risks and issues that face solar panel installers.

The guide – titled Guide to Safe Solar Panel Installation – was developed by SafeWork NSW in consultation with the Clean Energy Council, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment as well as a range of other key stakeholder representatives.

It includes advice for solar panel installers on controlling risks as well as checklists to assist in the assessment of site risks and the development of site-specific safe work method statements and application of minimum required fall protection measures.

Kevin Anderson, Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, says that businesses designing and selling solar panel systems have duties of care to ensure safe working environments for their installation teams.

“One thing that we’ve got to stress is that no solar installer should be working on a roof without fall protection in place,” Mr Anderson said.

This new safety blitz builds on previous safety advice from the government and regulators around the dangers associated the installation of solar panels on roofs started last year.

As part of the blitz, the government is also reminding installers that fines of $720 for individuals and $3600 for businesses can be issued on the spot for not providing workers with adequate protection against falls from height.

To assist solar system businesses in providing a safe work place for their installers, a rebate of $500 is available for those that purchase improved safety equipment after attending a relevant SafeWork NSW event.

More information can be found on the SafeWork NSW website.

How HSE can help

Height Safety Engineers are a registered training organisation (RTO 91227) providing high-quality training across a wide range of high-risk workplace areas including working at heights, confined space and more.

Our premier RIIWHS204D Work Safely at Heights course provides fundamental safety skills for those working in any area where there is the risk of a fall.

We can also provide low voltage rescue and CPR training, as falls from heights are not the only risk associated with the installation of solar panels.

Explore the full range of our training courses here, or call 1300 884 978 to speak to our expert team about how we can help with your training needs.

Our PPE team can also supply solar panel installers with a range of temporary anchors and other fall protection equipment to make access quick, easy and, most important, safe.

You may also be interested in....

Get in touch with our team
Not sure where to start?

Download our free height safety risk assessment toolkit. Understand your risk areas to improve your site safety.