Here are seven tips to stay safe when installing your PV system. You should also review the Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA requirements for solar installers in regards to fall protection and preventing injuries. As a part of becoming a NABCEP certified solar installer, you will need to complete at least 10 hours of OSHA.
1. Safety glasses. Not your basic sunglasses.
They need to be impact resistant and ANSI Z87.1 approved. While utilizing power tools, you may be exposed to hazardous flying debris that can come into contact with the eyes, and proper safety glasses help prevent injury. Also, make sure your safety glasses protect you against UV rays because as a PV installer you’ll be in the sun for a long time.
2. Slab on the sunblock anywhere the sun might hit.
Are you working on a white roof and wearing shorts? Guess what, the sun is reflecting off the roof and going up. Unless you want to spread sunscreen under your clothes, it’s best to opt for pants. There’s also clothing with integrated SPF protection that can be a great option. Anything not covered by clothing or a wide-brimmed hat, you should slather in sunblock. Remember that you might be in the sun for a long time, so opt for a high SPF sunblock.
3. Stay hydrated.
The last you want to happen when on top of the roof is to suddenly feel light headed and fall over. Even if you’re wearing a safety harness, you could still sustain some pretty serious injuries.
4. The importance of a safety harness.
If you do end up having a heat stroke, if you don’t have a safety harness, you might fall off the roof and sustain serious injuries, or even death. I’ve seen too many photos of installers on the roof, with no safety harness. Luckily nothing happened in those cases but falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. Also, it’s required by law; OSHA requires you to have fall protection if you are exposed to fall distances of 6 feet or more.
5. The proper shoes.
The shoes you wear when going up on the roof need to have a good grip, preventing you from sliding should the roof be comp shingle, Spanish tile, flat tile or metal. They also should be steel-toe when working with heavy material such as installing a ballasted racking system.
6. Do not work in bad weather, be it rain or high winds.
Aside from it being not fun to install a system in the rain, you are increasing your chances of injury. Not only does the water expose you to higher risks of slipping, but you’re also at a higher risk of potential electric shock. Also, high winds can cause solar panels to be picked up and blown away, potentially causing you to fall as well. You do not want to be on the roof holding a panel up and a strong wind to come along.
7. Don’t install by yourself.