Solar Panel Installation Safety

Safety Alert 58: Solar Panel Installation Safety

Date: 28 October 2015

On 30 July 2015 a first year apprentice, new to solar panel installation, entered the roof space of a house, having been instructed to do so by her supervisor. Upon entering the roof space, the apprentice asked if the power was still on. The power had not been isolated and the apprentice found herself in the roof space with energised circuits.

The apprentice panicked when realising the danger and stepped onto the ceiling rather than the ceiling joists. The ceiling did not take the weight of the apprentice. The apprentice fell through the ceiling, landing heavily on the floor below onto her backside with some support from her right hand. The apprentice escaped serious injury and, apart from some shock associated with the occurrence, returned to work.

The incident could have resulted in serious injury or even fatality.

An investigation into the incident revealed a number of deficiencies in safety process and practice, which, if in place, could have prevented the incident from occurring. These include:

Recommendations

  1. A simple plain English induction should be developed, which specifically addresses the hazards and risks associated with domestic solar installations;
  2. A documented isolation and tagging procedure should be developed, implemented and reviewed regularly, which is specific to domestic solar installations;
  3. Host employer’s need to be proactive in safety leadership through close and direct supervision of new apprentices in addition to clearly identifying and communicating hazards and risks as well as methods of risk reduction to work teams;
  4. Host employers and apprentices MUST always report incidents, accidents, near misses or other negative occurrence as soon as possible to EGT.

Feedback

For further information regarding this Safety Alert, please contact Jason Atkinson, OSH Consultant on 0416 247 310.