Solar panel installers on notice in safety blitz

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Friday, 26 February, 2021 - 12:15
Industry news
National News

SafeWork NSW recently said installers of rooftop solar panels can expect an unannounced visit from inspectors as the regulator targets heightened risk associated with a boom in demand.

With state and federal government rebates continuing to stimulate an increase in solar panel rooftop installations, NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson said SafeWork is intent on ensuring the industry puts safety first.

“Last year we saw around 90,000 installations across the state and no doubt there will be even more this year, as many of us look at new ways to reduce costs of living,” Minister Anderson said.

Installing solar systems exposes workers to risks of serious injury, including through falls from ladders, roofs and skylights, as well as electrical risks.

“While our focus is on proactively raising awareness of safe practices, we will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to those who put workers’ lives at risk by not using the right safety gear or conducting work without a licence,” Minister Anderson said.

A new workplace safety guide for the industry has been developed in consultation with the Clean Energy Council, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and other key representatives.

The safety guide provides the solar industry with clear direction on controlling risk, including a simple safety checklist for people working in the industry, instructions on developing a site-specific safe work method statement and minimum fall protection measures.

“Businesses that sell, design and install solar systems have duties to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe for every worker,” Minister Anderson said.

Solar installers face on-the-spot fines of up to $720 for individuals and $3,600 for businesses for not protecting workers from falls from heights and electrical risks.

SafeWork will also be holding safety information events online for solar installers and workers, who can access the $500 small business safety rebate after attending to upgrade safety equipment.