OSHA Fall Protection Requirements
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA ) has developed a set of standards regarding fall protection as a way to prevent work-related injuries and deaths.
If you run a solar installation company, these are important to be aware of because it is your responsibility to ensure a safe workplace. OSHA requires that fall protection is provided at elevations of 6 feet in the construction industry (like on top of a roof) and when working with dangerous equipment and machinery (such as inverters), regardless of the fall distance.
Installers must be protected from falls by using one of the following:
1. Guardrail Systems
2. Safety net Systems
OSHA requires employers to:
• Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
• Keep floors in work areas in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition.
• Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers (which includes safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and handrails).
• Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.
Putting up solar panels best practice:
• Installers should ever be allowed to climb ladders while carrying solar panels
• Ladder hoists, swing hoists, or truck-mounted cranes/conveyors, should be used wherever possible to lift up solar equipment
OSHA Working Safely with Electricity. For more info see OSHA FactSheet
• DO NOT operate a generator indoors. Generators should be placed outdoors in a location where the exhaust gases cannot enter a home or building. Good ventilation is key to operating a generator safely.
• Be sure the main circuit breaker is OFF and locked out prior to starting any generator. This will prevent inadvertent energization of power lines from backfeed electrical energy from generators and help protect utility line workers from electrocution.
• Turn off generators and let them cool prior to refueling.
• Look for overhead power lines and buried power line indicators.
• Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines and assume they are energized.
• De-energize and ground lines when working near them.
• Use non-conductive wood or fiberglass ladders when working near power lines.
• Use equipment that is approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
• Do not modify cords or use them incorrectly.
• Use factory-assembled cord sets and extension cords that are 3-wire type.
• Use cords, connection devices, and fittings equipped with strain relief.
• Remove cords from receptacles by pulling on the plugs, not the cords.
• Use double-insulated tools and equipment, distinctively marked.
• Visually inspect all electrical equipment before use. Remove from service any equipment with frayed cords, missing ground prongs, cracked tool casings, etc.
• Ground all power supply systems, electrical circuits, and electrical equipment.
• Frequently inspect electrical systems to ensure that the path to ground is continuous.
• Do not remove ground prongs from cord- and plug-connected equipment or extension cords.
• Use double-insulated tools and ground all exposed metal parts of equipment.
• Avoid standing in wet areas when using portable electrical power tools.
“UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration, www.osha.gov/dep/greenjobs/solar_falls.html.