Recently, a solar worker in Hawaii fell off a roof to his death. Construction work is one of the most dangerous activities, and installing rooftop solar presents additional fall and electric shock hazards. It is up to owners and managers of solar companies to insist that their workers follow appropriate safety procedures — even though these procedures may be inconvenient, time consuming and expensive.
Proper safety procedures can prevent tragedies like this. If you do rooftop installation work, we have three specific suggestions. First, install two or more permanent roof anchors on every job. These anchors are inexpensive (about $15 each), leak-proof, and easy to install. With these anchors installed there is no excuse for your workers not to use ropes and harnesses. Second, follow all of the applicable OSHA procedures for solar contracting, including ladder safety, protective gear, electrical safety, and emergency procedures. Third, consider getting a free OSHA safety inspection audit. Although inconvenient, these audits will help identify gaps in your company’s safety procedures.
Solar safety does not end when a system is installed. Homeowners must also be aware of the proper way to clean their panels and check for debris or problems with wiring. Although we’re not aware of a serious fire from a properly installed rooftop system, there have been incidences of squirrel or bird damage to wiring, and occasional arc fault problems. By design, rooftop PV systems have many built-in safety features to prevent injury or property damage — and local jurisdiction inspections are a good final step to help ensure the system is installed safely. For more on homeowner and installer solar safety, please Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show.
About The Energy Show
As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don't have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.
The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we'll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.
About Your Host
Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.
His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.
Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies. He's been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.
Lead image: Green microphone via Shutterstock