Why you need a safety concept for your photovoltaic system
Clients are obliged to make tasks performed on their roof as safe as possible
Tasks on a roof are linked to huge risks, such as falling from a height or falling through. It often takes just a slight lack of attention, which can then have serious consequences, and in some cases may even end in the death of the victim.
So if you are about to take the decision to install a photovoltaic or solar system on your roof, then it is essential that you also think about its safety - and indeed in terms of the whole lifecycle of the system.
This requires a professional concept and planning down to the smallest detail – from the installation, to servicing and cleaning tasks, to the possible dismantling of the system.
Here too, the following applies: The employer or customer is legally obliged to make the tasks on the roof as safe as possible, and thus to reduce the risk of an accident to a minimum.
However, this obligation has its advantages – because it also results in the installers or servicing and cleaning staff being able to concentrate completely on their work without any worries at all about safety.
This can create significant savings of time and money – and certainly prevent personal suffering, injuries, and time off work. This is why you should rely on a professional planning service for fall protection for PV systems.
Details about the safety concept for your PV system
It is essential that professional and complete planning of a photovoltaic system is based on the latest technologies and standards, and it certain types of liability should be excluded. In addition, the solution should be completely user-friendly and easy to operate, so that all safety-relevant activities can be performed correctly.
Furthermore, the plan or safety concept must go into the actual circumstances of the location – for example, not only angle of pitch and roof height can play an fundamental role in the conception, but also the characteristics of the building itself.
It is therefore very important to know whether the property is located in an area with high or low levels of snow, and accordingly which particular risks this could create. Last but not least, all documentation, inspections, and plans must be archived for the long term.
However, first and foremost an exact assessment of the situation and an evaluation of the actual onsite situation must be carried out, so that a solid risk assessment can then be performed. This in turn forms the basis for determining the optimum fall protection measures for the respective project.
An overview of the safety systems:
- Anchorage equipment – individual protection
- Fall arrest equipment – collective protection
The most important questions about creating your safety concept – at a glance
- How often is the roof accessed, and what tasks are performed on it?
- How safe is the access to the PV system and/or to the anchorage devices? (Pathways, roof accesses/exits or ladders and/or ascent aids)
- What does the optimum protection option look like – individual or collective protection?
- How do I ensure safety even during the installation of the PV system or of the fall protection system?
- How are tools and other material transported to the roof?
- In an emergency, how feasible is rescue using our own equipment?
The concrete dangers
Even if the whole roof is treated as a danger area (especially for pitched roofs), here too there are different risk zones. As soon as an installer or a service and cleaning worker comes closer than 2 metres to a fall edge, a special danger area with increased fall risk comes into consideration.
These areas (generally the roof edge) may be accessed only if the workers are protected by additional protective measures such as anchorage devices in the adjacent protected area, or by collective protection, such as guardrails.
But falls are not the only causes of accidents when working on the PV system, break-through hazard roof components also represent a significant potential danger.
The 4 most significant potential dangers at a glance:
- A pitched roof – i.e. a roof with an inclination greater than 22° – acute skidding and slipping danger exists here.
Potential safety solutions: AIO lifeline system, SINGLE ANCHOR POINT/POSTS, SINGLE ANCHOR POINT/POST-SET ITEMS, SAFETY ROOF HOOKS and the KIT-BOX SYSTEM.
- On flat roofs, increased danger exists along the fall edge, and also at skylights.
Potential safety solutions: TAURUS rail safety system, BARRIER guardrail system (VARIO, ATTIKA, LICHTKUPPEL, and FLEECE), AIO lifeline system, and SINGLE ANCHOR POINTS.
- The danger of falling through exists above all with fibre-cement panels, translucent plastic panels, glass roofs, and skylights.
Potential safety solutions: LIGHT SKYLIGHT PROTECTION SYSTEM, LIGHT SKYLIGHT PROTECTION NET, BARRIER-LICHTKUPPEL and EAP-MOBI.
- The entrance or vertical ascent to the roof, and/or the descent.
Potential safety solutions: TAURUS VERTIKAL, VERT-SEILSYSTEM.
General principles of planning
Mistakes can occur, even during the planning of fall protection systems. But especially for tasks on a PV system on a roof, mistakes can have fatal consequences.
It is therefore even more important to closely check all relevant details of the respective application case, and then to define the optimum fall protection system. And therefore you should, under all circumstances, count on an expert partner and install only certified safety solutions.
What has to be taken into account during planning:
- Location and type of the anchorage devices. Not only is it essential to position all anchorage devices correctly, so that all areas of the roof and the PV system can be accessed safely. In addition, the type of anchorage must be selected with care and, in combination with the substructure of the PV system, a safe load-bearing unit must be the result.
- Safe access to the anchorage devices – for this, particular challenges such as darkness, weather, snow, wet, ice, and wind must be taken into account. Accessing the roof is amongst the most potentially dangerous moments when working on the PV system.
Often, the workers are often holding tools or cleaning materials in their hands, and this makes the process even more dangerous. The anchorage devices for access must therefore be planned very carefully, and they must be within easy reach.
- A load-bearing substructure. If in doubt, a structural engineer should be consulted. Without knowing the exact characteristics of the substructure, there is a risk of dangerous breakthroughs while working. This can be prevented by careful planning.
You will find further details about the general planning principles here:
Summary safety concept photovoltaic system
Working on roof surfaces harbours risks. A slight lack of attention can result in stumbling or slipping, and end up in a fall. A comprehensive safety concept is therefore essential when you are planning the installation of a photovoltaic system on your roof.
For this, you should avail of a professional planning service like that provided by INNOTECH, because with this you cover all legal and technical safety aspects professionally and effectively, and on occasion also save lives.
Download our factsheet on this subject now!
Simply contact us if you have further questions. We will be happy to support you in generating a professional safety concept for your PV system. So that you can sleep soundly when work needs to be done on your roof!
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.
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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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