Manage the risk of falls during solar panel installation

Tuesday, 25 October, 2022

Manage the risk of falls during solar panel installation

Companies involved in rooftop solar installation have been warned that the NSW workplace regulator will prosecute businesses for exposing employees to workplace risk. Two companies recently faced Downing Centre Local Court in separate prosecutions arising from a solar panel installation at North Ryde on 1 December 2021. Head of SafeWork NSW Natasha Mann said that these prosecutions should remind all businesses and workers that safety is not just about whether there is an incident or not, and that they need to take proactive action to manage risks and prevent incidents from occurring.

“In one prosecution, subcontractor SY Electrical Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $8000 for failing to minimise risk of fall from height by not providing and maintaining adequate employee protection. The business was also convicted and fined an additional $8000 for failing to ensure a safe work method statement was prepared for the high-risk construction work,” said Mann.

Two SY Electrical employees were reportedly working on the roof of the two-storey residence at North Ryde without any fall protection measures in place. An investigation by SafeWork NSW revealed that the employees were working at heights greater than two metres and about five metres respectively. In the other prosecution, Solar Power Nation Pty Ltd was convicted and fined a total of $14,000 in the Downing Centre Local Court on charges arising from the events at North Ryde. Solar Power Nation had subcontracted SY Electrical to carry out the solar panel installation at the two-storey dwelling in North Ryde.

“We need solar businesses to understand working safely is more than a policy statement in workplace manuals; it’s a legal responsibility that they need to be monitoring every day and on every job. Experience shows that the businesses who invest in a strong safety culture are likely to produce better-quality work and have higher staff engagement,” said Mann.

Businesses and employees can learn more about controlling solar panel installation risks here. SafeWork NSW’s free Guide to Safe Solar Panel Installation can be found here.

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