Working in Solar construction can be hazardous, but by providing safety systems for Solar installers, implementing crane safety procedures, establishing electricity safety standards, and monitoring for heat strokes, you will substantially limit the number of solar energy accidents on your site.
There will always be a propensity for risk when working in the energy sector, and perhaps even more so for Solar employees. According to research from Power Technology, working in the Solar industry is actually three times more dangerous than working in the Wind industry.
So, what steps can be taken to reduce the number of Solar industry accidents? By following these guidelines, you can ensure a safer work environment for your employees.
A Guide to Limiting the Risk of Solar Energy Accidents
1. Provide Protection Systems for Solar Panel Installers Where There are Fall Distances of 6 Feet or More
In such circumstances, workers should be protected from falls using one of the following methods:
- Guardrail systems (where the height of top rails must be between 39 and 45 inches above working level)
- Safety net systems
- Covers over holes
- Personal fall arrest systems, such as a body harness
2. Implement Lockout/Tagout Procedures.
According to the US Department of Labor, compliance with the lockout/tagout standard—which refers to procedures safeguarding employees from the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment—prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Such procedures may stipulate that only authorized employees can lockout or tagout machines or equipment in order to perform servicing or maintenance.
3. Establish Crane and Hoist Safety Procedures.
Fatalities and serious injuries can occur when cranes are improperly inspected and used. Many fatalities occur when the crane boom, load line, or load comes into contact with power lines and shorts electricity to the ground. It is recommended that crane and hoist safety procedures are implemented, such as requiring that a “designated competent person” inspects the crane and all crane controls prior to use.
4. Implement Safety Standards for Working With Electricity.
Workers could suffer electric shocks and burns when hooking up Solar panels to an electric circuit. Therefore, they need to pay attention to overhead power lines and stay at least 10 feet away from them because of the extremely high voltage. In addition, it is important to frequently inspect electrical systems to ensure that the path to the ground is continuous.
5. Monitor Workers for Signs of a Heat Stroke.
Solar energy workers often work in very hot weather so experiencing a heat stroke is a very real risk. Workers should be trained to identify and report early symptoms of any heat-related illness. Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include: confusion, loss of consciousness, convulsions, lack of sweating, hot, dry skin, and very high body temperature. Also be sure to monitor for heat exhaustion—symptoms include: headache, nausea, vertigo, weakness, thirst, and giddiness. Ensure that workers take care of themselves by taking measures such as hydrating properly.
6. Conduct a Personal Protective Equipment Assessment.
Solar energy employers should assess their workplace to determine whether there are hazards that require the use of protective equipment. Workers can be exposed to a range of hazards that may necessitate the use of safety glasses, hard hats, gloves, or respirators. It is vital that workers exposed to potential electrical hazards are provided with the appropriate electrical protective equipment and that they use them. Consequently, it is important to ensure that electrical protective equipment is maintained in a safe and reliable condition.
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Let us help you with training, staffing, technology, and professional services so you can get back to focusing on what you do best. Visit our website at workrise.com.
For more information, reach out to our Health, Safety, and Environment team at HSE@workrise.com.