Individual or collective protection? Which system is used when for PV installations on a roof?
This is how you professionally protect your servicing and cleaning workers
While dangers like break-throughs or an increased fall risk close to the roof edge lurk on a flat roof, on a pitched roof the inclination itself is the greatest challenge.
Add to that the fact that PV system operators want to use as much as possible of their roof surface to produce solar power, which means that in practice little space remains for a professional, certified fall protection system.
However, such a system is required so that possible cleaning and servicing tasks can be performed in safety. In addition, the safety solution should ideally cast no shade whatsoever, in order that the panels always deliver the best performance and are able to produce the maximum solar power.
In principle, for the fall protection of PV systems on a flat roof, a distinction is made between collective and individual protection. With collective protection, several persons can work safely on the PV installation at the same time, because the access to the fall edge is blocked effectively by a guardrail.
The purpose of individual protection is to protect single workers or cleaning and servicing employees from falling. In this case, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is a mandatory requirement. Depending on the actual situation, either a collective and individual protection solution may be chosen. It is a different matter on a pitched roof, where fall protection is provided overwhelmingly by individual protection solutions.
Individual protection solutions for your PV system on a flat roof
The AIO lifeline system, TAURUS rail safety system, and also SINGLE ANCHOR POINTS are examples of individual protection solutions. Depending on the actual situation, these INNOTECH systems can be combined with each other. On a flat roof, there is the option of installing the fall protection system directly onto the substructure of the PV installation.
Not only is this modern, surface-level attachment of the safety solution visually appealing, but it also ensures that the fall protection system creates no shade on the PV modules. Corresponding certification of the safety system in combination with the substructure of the PV installation rounds out the project.
We now examine the INNOTECH solutions in rather more detail. With respect to the protection of PV installations on a flat roof, there are three ways to attach the AIO, TAURUS and SINGLE ANCHOR POINTS systems:
- The use of STA posts, for example, allows the fall protection systems listed to be connected directly to the roof cladding. Then, if a fall occurs, the forces arising are dissipated into the roof substructure.
- To avoid penetration of the roof cladding, solutions held by superimposed load can be used, in combination with the AIO and TAURUS safety systems or with SINGLE ANCHOR POINTS (e.g. the VARIO-45 universal point). Here, the forces arising during a fall are dissipated into the concrete weights of the universal point.
- Installation directly on the PV substructure means that the roof surface can be exploited to the full. In this case, the weight of the PV system acts as imposed load/ballast. The forces acting during a fall are dissipated directly into the PV substructure. Roof penetration is not required here either.
It should be noted that SINGLE ANCHOR POINTS are above all suitable for securing small roof surfaces. In addition, they are used particularly when roof corners have to be secured against pendulum falls, or even where ascents require securing.
If the need is to provide fall protection for a route until the user attaches into another system, then this is easily possible, and at the same time it ensures comprehensive protection on a flat roof. Where there is a large roof surface, the optimum choice is a cable or rail system.
Digression: PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)
For all the individual fall protection systems listed above, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is a mandatory requirement. Depending on the area of use, various safety harnesses (PSA-STRING) are available.
In order to ensure the safe interception of a falling fitter or other worker, a connection must be created between the personal protective equipment and the anchor points. For this, INNOTECH provides a PPE-LANYARD which is matched to the systems. As an ideal enhancement, appropriate ASSOCIATED PPE EQUIPMENT provides even more convenience.
In favour of individual protection solutions:
Depending on how the fall protection system is installed, there are various benefits in terms of the use of individual protection on a flat roof. Here are our highlights:
- Full use of the roof surface, because the safety solutions take up only a small amount of space, especially when the fall protection system is attached directly to the PV substructure
- No penetration of the roof cladding when individual protection solutions held by superimposed load are used, or if the protection system is attached directly to the PV substructure
- Protection of the entire roof surface using just a single safety system
- When the protection system is attached directly to the PV substructure, no shadows are cast on the PV modules, thanks to the surface-level installation of the fall protection systems
Collective safety solutions for a PV system on a flat roof
On a flat roof, the areas close to the roof edge are not the only dangerous locations. There is also increased danger of falls around roof hatches or roof windows/skylights. In principle, these zones can be protected very effectively by using a collective system, such as a guardrail system (e.g. BARRIER).
A collective fall protection system allows all fitters and solar system installers working on the roof, and therefore on the PV installation, to move freely and, above all, safely. However, the space available is often barely available, or not at all, or else the roof has already reached the upper limit of its load-bearing capacity.
But even these fall protection systems must not reduce the efficiency of the PV system by potentially casting shadows on the solar panels. Here is a selection of our collective protection for flat roofs:
- BARRIER-VARIO, the guardrail system with weights as superimposed load
- BARRIER-ATTIKA, the guardrail system installed on a parapet
- BARRIER-FLEECE, the guardrail system with green roof as superimposed load
- BARRIER-SKYLIGHT, the guardrail system around skylights/strip lights
In favour of collective protection solutions:
The use of collective protection on a flat roof also brings certain advantages. Here are our top 3:
- Protected movement on the whole of the flat roof surface, as well as along the PV system. It is unnecessary to wear personal protective equipment.
- The roof can be used to its full extent.
- No penetration of the roof cladding and therefore easy to retrofit.
Potential fall protection systems for PV installations on a pitched roof
On a pitched roof, the roof inclination is itself the greatest challenge and simultaneously the greatest safety risk. In contrast to a flat roof, on a pitched roof only individual protection solutions can provide fall protection.
Depending on the situation, various safety solutions are suitable – in particular the AIO lifeline system, in combination with single anchor points or roof safety hooks, has proven itself in making the tasks on the PV system as safe as possible. Here is an selection of potential systems:
- AIO-LIFELINE-SYSTEM-PASSABLE - an all-in-one lifeline system where the intermediate brackets and curves can be traversed using the appropriate slider
- AIO-LIFELINE-SYSTEM-NON-PASSABLE - can also be used as a restraint, fall arrest, and rescue system - detaching and reconnecting are required here
- SINGLE-ANCHOR-POINT/POSTS-SET-ITEM - this set includes everything required for the fall protection system
- EAP-SLING-11 - the single anchor point specially developed for pitched roofs
- SAFETY-ROOF-HOOKS - anchor point specially for pitched roofs
- KIT-BOX-SYSTEM - a pre-installed all-in-one lifeline system
For all the fall protection systems listed here, personal protective equipment (PPE) is also naturally required, in order to protect the installers and other workers. You will find further information here about our fall protection systems for pitched and flat roofs.
Working on PV systems on roofs harbours a number of risks. These include not only the particular danger area adjacent to the fall edge, but also skylights and strip lights, which are often overlooked. Therefore, in each individual case and depending on the roof type, it is necessary to decide which safety solution – individual or collective protection – represents the best fall protection system.
An individual protection solution always secures only one worker on the roof, and the use of professional PPE is a mandatory requirement. Although collective protection requires more space on the roof, it does protect all servicing and cleaning staff who work on the PV installation.
Regardless whether individual or collective protection, every fall protection system must be certified appropriately to the latest state of the art, so that in an emergency the load from a fall can indeed be intercepted. Because what matters most is: 100% safety on the roof!
Simply contact us! Our experts will be very happy to support you in finding the optimum fall protection for your PV system. If you too wish to enjoy the benefits of collaborating with a professional partner for fall protection systems, then you should download this guide immediately here.
Über den Autor
Following her apprenticeship as a design engineer, Selina Bauchinger spent one year abroad gaining professional experience before she returned to Austria and joined INNOTECH in 2018. Until the end of 2021 Ms Bauchinger was involved in project planing for solar power and photovoltaic customers of the family company from Upper Austria. Since the start of 2022 she has strengthened the INNOTECH product management team.
A professional safety concept for PV installations protects the wallet and the nerves
Your clients are obliged to ensure that tasks performed on their roof are as safe as possible
Successful solar system installers are those who offer PV fall protection at the same time
And you also increase your turnover that way
Founded in 2001, INNOTECH Arbeitsschutz is a family-owned company with headquarters in Kirchham and branch offices in Germany and Switzerland. With a dedicated research and development team, INNOTECH soon set international standards in the area of occupational safety. Ever since, it has driven forward the further development of innovative products. Today INNOTECH is one of the largest manufacturers in Europe which has specialised exclusively in the production of safety systems, with 88% from its own manufacture, in order to guarantee maximum quality.
According to various statistics, several hundred people have an accident on roofs every year. Accidents that could have been prevented with appropriate safety equipment and the diligent installation of high-quality fall protection systems.
Thank you for your like!