Professional fall protection for your PV system on pitched roofs
A selection of possible safety solutions
Installation tasks on the photovoltaic system, as well as its servicing and cleaning, represent a particular challenge.
The roof form per se, in addition to its inclination exceeding 22° (attention – in Switzerland roofs with an inclination from 10° upwards count as pitched roofs), makes the working process hugely more difficult.
A surface which is wet or even covered with snow complicates the situation even more. In order to minimise the risk of an accident or fall, professional fall protection systems which comply with standards must be deployed from a fall height of 3 m and upwards.
In addition to slipping and skidding, breakthroughs are also amongst the greatest risks which lurk in a pitched roof.
Especially when the substructures consist of materials such as fibre-cement panels, fibreboard panels, or wood cement panels, and resistance to breakthrough is not guaranteed, this also requires the implementation of appropriate safety measures.
And, of course, it is also necessary to protect the access to a PV system accordingly.
This is how to be safe with PV systems on a pitched roof
The surfaces of pitched roofs are used to their maximum extent for power generation. And so, as a rule, little space is left here for servicing and cleaning tasks on the PV system – and, in addition, there is a further challenge: the inclination of the roof.
Even on its own, that represents a safety risk. In practice there is no single optimum fall protection system for the respective situation.
Instead, solutions like rail and/or lifeline systems are combined with other devices, such as SINGLE ANCHOR POINTS or safety roof hooks, in order to make the tasks on the solar system as safe as possible, without impairing the efficiency of the solar power plant on the roof.
A selection of potential fall protection systems
But frequently, single anchor points are also used. For example, STA posts are installed centred on the ridge or on the roof surface.
Safety roof hooks also provide optimum protection on a pitched roof. The SDH 31 or 32 can be used both as a single anchor point for personal protective equipment, and also for attachment of a roof ladder.
Benefits of fall protection systems for PV systems on a pitched roof
Depending on the existing situation, each and every fall protection system provides quite specific benefits. In general, three benefits provided by fall protection for PV systems on a pitched roof may be noted:
- The process of installing the PV system is already protected.
- Attaching the fall protection system adjacent to the photovoltaic system allows the whole of the roof surface to be used to the maximum.
- Safety roof hooks allow protected access over the roof surface
Attention: Lifeline and rail systems must be checked by a qualified person at one-year intervals. For this, in addition to thorough training of the inspector, property-specific documents are also necessary.
This is how you protect pitched roofs against breakthroughs
On pitched roofs, surfaces subject to breakthrough because of their material of course also need to be provided with appropriate fall protection systems.
For this, either a safety net under the roof surface or load-bearing walkways with additional guardrails should be installed. The areas at risk can also be protected by means of a load-bearing surface with circumferential side protection against falls.
Remember: Even for tasks on a pitched roof which are completed very quickly, protection of the affected working locations and of all walkways is mandatory.
Challenge – access to the PV system
Precisely for pitched roofs, because the inclination may be steep, accessing the PV system is a risky undertaking.
Therefore in addition, the routes to the existing fall protection systems on the pitched roof must be protected accordingly.
If, for example, a step-ladder is to be used for this, in order to perform cleaning or servicing tasks on the PV system, then this ascent aid must under all circumstances be secured against tipping, turning, and sliding away from the roof edge, and a safe transition to the pitched roof must be ensured.
This means that it must be possible to reach the initial anchor point easily from the ladder.
Summary fall protection photovoltaic pitched roof
Because their inclinations may be steep, pitched roofs represent a particular challenge for the installation of PV systems, and for their cleaning and servicing.
However, there are completely modern fall protection systems which, for all current building and roof constructions, are optimally suited for protecting these dangerous workplaces and their access routes.
When you look for a suitable solution, you should in all cases ensure that your safety system is tested and certified appropriately for the respective substructure.
Contact us immediately for further information! Our experts will be very happy to support you in finding the perfect fall protection for the PV system on your pitched roof.
You can also find more information in our free factsheet!
Über den Autor
Curdin Erne, who started his professional career in timber construction, joined INNOTECH in 2017 in sales, focussed on eastern Switzerland. In 2021 he took over the management of the sales team and in 2022 even the overall management of the INNOTECH branch in Switzerland together with Ive Appel. Not only does he support all retailers there, but also key accounts, potential sales partners, and private customers. His focus lies in special solutions related to the TAURUS rail system.
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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.
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