Solar panel installers at risk of falls from height

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.
Sunday, 21 August, 2022 - 12:00
Policy & legislation
South Australia

Three-quarters of solar panel installers identified in a recent SafeWork SA audit have no controls in place to minimise the risk of a fall.

The compliance program audit, which was conducted off the back of the regulator’s managing the risk of falls in residential construction report, resulted in SafeWork SA inspectors issuing 102 prohibition “stop-work” notices and 83 improvement notices.

The audits found that 75 per cent of solar panel installers were working on a first or second-storey pitched roof without any controls in place to minimise the risk of a fall.

SafeWork SA has published new information and guidance on managing the risk of falls for solar panel installations as an education tool for installers.

Falls from heights remain the number one cause of notifiable serious injuries on South Australian construction sites, with the most serious and fatal falls being from roofs, ladders or non-compliant scaffolds.

The SafeWork SA 2021 Health and Safety Snapshot relating to falls from heights identified that workers on a roof received the most serious injuries.

“Solar retailers and installers have duties under work health and safety laws to ensure workers are safe when installing rooftop solar panels,” said SafeWork SA executive director Martyn Campbell.

“Managing falls follows a hierarchy of controls that start with eliminating the risks of falling from edges, through skylights or brittle roofing surfaces.

“The installation of temporary edge protection or scaffolding is reasonably practicable and is typically considered the best protection when working at heights.”