How to Address Increased Fall Hazards Resulting from Rooftop Solar Installations

How to Address Increased Fall Hazards Resulting from Rooftop Solar Installations

09th March 2021

Several commercial property owners are adopting energy-efficient roofs across the UK. These include installing solar panels on the rooftop. Solar panels on the roof can increase your property’s resale value, make the roof more appealing, reduce dependence on fossil fuel, and help combat greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the panel’s installation means increased exposure to fall hazards that could result in fatal injuries. Please read on to learn about how the installation increases fall hazards and the proper fall protection measures that you can implement to keep your workers and contractors safe.

Why Does Installing Solar Panels on Your Roof Increase Fall Hazards?

You’ll require contractors and employees to install and maintain your solar panels on the rooftop. This will mean that more people will be on the roof more often, especially if you intend to install the panels over a majority of the roof’s surface.

With more people on the roof, there will be a decreased walking or working near or around fall hazards. People will be forced to squeeze into tight spaces, reducing the room to negotiate hazards such as roof hatches and skylights. The previously clear walking areas will also be limited by more pieces of equipment, running cables, and power lines, hence increased potential trip hazards all over the roof.

Relevant Fall Protection Measures to Consider

Passive fall protection solutions, such as a fall protection post and guardrails, are usually the most preferred options when it comes to rooftop fall protection. Such solutions eliminate the need for additional equipment and associated training, hence allowing your contractors and employees to conduct their duties unhindered. Below are some of the areas that require proper fall protection when you’re on the roof:

Skylights – are considered to be holes on the roof that can hardly support the weight of a worker falling into them. It’s one of the common rooftop fall hazards that can easily result in severe injuries or even death. Ensure that all the skylights are surrounded by railings or covered by screens to prevent the people on the roof from falling into them.

Roof hatches – are entry and exit points to the rooftop that can be very dangerous if not well protected. Most people tend to leave the hatches open while on the roof, making them a severe hazard. You can install roof hatch railings and grab bars to protect the workers as they attend to their duties while on the roof. Also, encourage the workers and contractors always to close the hatches when entering or exiting the roof.

Roof Edge – roof edges should always have proper fall protection. They can be very dangerous, and injuries can be fatal. Common fall protection measures to take against roof edge falling hazards include installing guardrails around the roof and ensuring the worker is properly tied off to a strong anchor. It would be best if you also protected any equipment that’s too close to the roof edge.

The Bottom Line

You can install rooftop railings on almost any roof. They can protect rooftop equipment, skylights, and roof edges. For temporary solutions, you can use contractor railings. Lifelines and personal protective equipment (PPE) can be used as the last resort of protection. However, it’s important to have proper PPEs on and lifelines even with the relevant fall protection solutions installed.