03.11.2022 | PV/flat roofs

Work on a PV system on a roof

Installing one’s own PV system on a roof makes sense for a number of reasons. So that it always provides the best possible performance, workers regularly have to access the solar power plant in order to perform servicing and cleaning tasks. Who is responsible or liable for the consequences of accidents?

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Guide for PV systems on the roof

Guide: Fall Protection Photovoltaic (PV)-System

This ultimate fall protection guide will help you to achieve a safe PV system on the roof. In the following, we summarise the danger areas on the roof, the liability issue and the safety solutions in a compact way. In addition, you will learn how you can generate more turnover as a solar installer.


Elektro Scherer puts its trust in the TAURUS rail system from INNOTECH

In its practical implementation, the roof installation of PV systems together with their associated fall protection repeatedly creates specific challenges. In the case of Elektro Scherer, a TAURUS rail system from INNOTECH was attached directly to the K2 substructure of the solar power plant.


How roof surfaces can be optimally used for the planned PV installation

With regard to PV installations on roofs, the question of competition for area often arises. This refers to competition between various types of use for the available area. The reason is that in principle all PV system operators want to free up the maximum possible amount of space for their solar power plant.


Why should you, as PV installers, also offer the fall protection system?

We invited experts to a discussion on the subject of fall protection for PV systems on flat and pitched roofs. In this blog post we go into the most frequently asked questions related to this topic.


Individual or collective protection? Which system is used when for PV installations on a roof?

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. Discover in the following article how you can professionally protect your maintenance and cleaning staff.


A professional safety concept for PV installations protects the wallet and the nerves

As a solar system installer, you naturally know every detail of the legal safety provisions relating to PV systems on a roof. In contrast, your clients may well be entering completely new territory which probably raises a number of additional questions. It is therefore all the more important from the outset to integrate the subject of safety into the planning of the PV system, and to create a substantiated and professional safety concept.


Successful solar system installers are those who offer PV fall protection at the same time

Solar system installers who, in addition to the optimally appropriate PV systems, can also provide the best possible fall protection, not only have a better image than their competitors – they can also use this to create increased turnover.


Safety increases business for solar system installers as full service providers

PV systems on the roof have been booming for quite some time. No wonder, because having your own solar power plant on the roof not only gives you much more independence in terms of energy supply, but also makes a significant contribution to the energy transition as a whole. If you also focus on the issue of safety on the roof, then as a solar installer you can leave the competition behind. In this article, you will discover how you can achieve this.

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Supporting multiple PV customers simultaneously can often become a huge challenge

Not only private households, but also businesses and companies, are relying increasingly on generating their own solar energy. The presently escalating energy prices will hasten this trend even further. For solar system installers, this creates enormous potential for winning new orders. It can then very easily happen that multiple projects or construction sites have to be managed simultaneously. And that creates a number of challenges.


Work on a PV system on a roof

Installing one’s own PV system on a roof makes sense for a number of reasons. So that it always provides the best possible performance, workers regularly have to access the solar power plant in order to perform servicing and cleaning tasks. Who is responsible or liable for the consequences of accidents?


PV systems on a roof – consider all danger areas, in order to protect against falls effectively

The circumstances and conditions of every single order for a PV system on a roof must always be analysed very closely, in order to implement the correct safety precautions. Solar system installers who recognise all risks and can at the same time also propose the appropriate professional and certified solution to their customers have the opportunity to position themselves as a responsible absolute expert in their area. In the medium and long term, this also has a positive effect on the sales performance of solar system installers.


6 tips which help solar system installers to gain increased turnover from their PV installations on roofs

Even if the connection isn’t obvious at first glance, solar system installers and PV installation companies can acquire significantly more new customers with a partner who is a certified and professional manufacturer of fall protection systems for PV installations on roofs. The reason why is very simple: They are able to cover the subject of safety in the very first meeting with the customer, thereby relieving their potential clients of a large amount of research work.


Subsequent installation of a fall protection system for PV installations on the roof

It is never too late to make the right decisions and implement them! This means that even operators of PV installations on the roof should consider whether the subsequent upgrade of their solar power plant with a professional and certified fall protection system is feasible and sensible.


360° solutions as a guarantee for success

Solar system installers capable of including a safety solution with their PV systems hold a clear edge over the competition. You can find out why this is the case in the following article.


4 steps are necessary for professional fall protection on the PV system on the roof

Discover all the necessary information here. In this article, we explain in summary the four steps that will lead you to your fall protection for PV systems. This much in advance, everything starts with a plan...


The right fall protection creates more space for the PV system

Here is an example from practice. ADREX relies on its proven one-stop-shop principle, in order to largely relieve its customers of all tasks related to their own roof-mounted solar power plants. This obviously also includes the selection and installation of a professional fall protection system for the PV installation.


Correct servicing and inspection of your PV fall protection system protects you from many problems

The fall protection for your PV system on a roof is 100% safe only if it is also inspected regularly for signs of potential wear and tear, damage, or corrosion, and for loose mounts. Discover what matters.


The professional way to install a fall protection system for your PV system on the roof

The detailed planning of the fall protection system for your PV system on the roof is followed by what is probably the most tantalising moment of the endeavour to make your solar power plant as safe and efficient as possible: the installation; the project is finally taking concrete shape. Discover what matters in the process.


The installation of a fall protection system for your PV system on the roof requires a certain amount of expertise!

The same rules that apply in all other areas of life and work also hold true in the area of fall protection systems for PV systems installed on a roof: Solid initial and further training are of pivotal importance, especially when it comes to the correct installation and proper servicing / cleaning of the system and its individual solar panels.


The aspects to focus on when planning a fall protection system for the PV system on your roof

The goal to harvest as much power as possible from your own solar power plant therefore hinges on the ability to maximise the utilisation of the roof surface, while securing the trouble-free operation of the solar power plant for the long term. This requires a comprehensive plan which factors in all details and also includes a professional system that protects against falls from a height.


Fall protection systems for your PV system installed on the roof

There are questions that come up again and again when it comes to the safety of PV systems on the roof. We have summarised the 6 most frequently asked questions by installers and solar technicians and also show the challenges of PV systems on flat and pitched roofs. The focus is always on possible safety solutions to mitigate these.


PV systems on a flat roof can be efficient and safe at the same time

In the examination of current practice below, we show you two individual solutions for flat roofs, together with the respective challenges which may be created by one’s own solar power plant. Discover the TAURUS rail system and the AIO lifeline system using Autohaus Nägele & Sohn GmbH and Autowelt Reibersdorfer as examples.


5 tips relating to your PV system on the roof

How to save time and money. Installing a photovoltaic system on your own roof is always a good idea, because in this way a previously completely unused surface is availed of for the sustainable production of electricity for your household or company. But so that this success story really comes into being, as early as the planning phase of your PV system you should also create a professional safety concept, or get one created.


Professional fall protection for your PV system on pitched roofs

Installation tasks on the photovoltaic system, as well as its servicing and cleaning, represent a particular challenge. An selection of possible security solutions including advantages can be discovered in the following article. In addition, the topic of access to the PV system on the pitched roof is also covered.


Fall protection photovoltaics

Not all roofs are the same. In the same way that roof forms differ greatly, the dangers concealed during installation and servicing and cleaning tasks on PV systems are just as variable. For this reason, we present solutions for all cases here.

Not just the operators of PV systems on a roof, but also the solar system installers and installation companies are responsible for their employees and are liable for accidents.

Christoph Ortner

But consider: on the roof, your employees are located in the fall risk area. This is why there are numerous regulations and standards relating to safety. In itself, the question of responsibility is governed by law – fundamentally it rests with the operator of the PV system. Therefore, if an accident occurs on the roof, he is responsible for the consequential damages; in the event of negligence, severe penalties may be expected. But in fact the solar system installers are also responsible for their employees who install the solar power plant on the roof, because these tasks too must be performed in safety. In addition, solar system installers are also obliged to inform their customers about potential risks and safety precautions for the PV system on the roof. 

Attention: If the minimum requirements for safety on the roof as a workplace are not fulfilled, the employer may be made responsible even in the event of misconduct by an employee.


An overview of current practice

If the installation of a PV system takes five working days or less, then there is no need to register it with the Labour Inspectorate or with AUVA (Allgemeine Unfallversicherungsanstalt). In practice, this means that solar system installers or installation companies more or less have a free hand regarding roof access and protection. Because the Labour Inspectorate imposes strict requirements during the approval process, this is generally avoided by not registering the installation, because of its short duration. Thus, for example, even if the eaves are at a height of only four metres, by law a permanent ascent must be installed in order to obtain the required approval.  However, as a rule only temporary scaffolding is used, and up to a certain height this does not have to be anchored. The advantage: It is really simple and rapid to set up. 

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But there is another side to this coin: If, in the course of an inspection, it turns out that the incorrect fall protection system was used on the construction site, or inadequate safety systems were used, a fine of up to 2,000 euros may be expected, to say nothing of the consequences under civil law. The solar system installer is legally obliged to assess all offsite places of work in detail, in order that he can then decide the ascent aids and safety precautions which are required. From the AUVA’s viewpoint, written documentation of this assessment would be highly recommended, because in this way all inspections and required measures can be easily tracked and implemented.

Attention: If a professional, certified fall protection system has been mandated but is missing, then the construction site can be closed by the Labour Inspector. In this case, a ban may be placed on access to the roof until the deficiencies have been corrected. Expensive safety measures such as collective protection are not always necessary or proportionate. Often PPE is sufficient, at least from the viewpoint of the AUVA in Austria. However, taken in the long term, a permanently installed fall protection system is generally the best and most cost-effective solution.


Confidence through certificates 

In order that the AUVA or the Labour Inspectorate can approve the use of fall protection systems on the market, these systems must fulfil a number of requirements. 


Detailed requirements for fall protection systems

  • Realistic and practical testing of the fall protection system


  • Check by the Labour Inspectorate’s own testing laboratory


  • Full documentation 


  • Intelligible and comprehensive operating and installation instructions


Attention: even if the safety solution fulfils all technical requirements, it may fail the formal inspection because of incomplete documentation!

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The situation in Switzerland

In Switzerland too, in terms of planning, installing, and maintaining PV systems on a roof, the solar system installer and the customer, or else the operator of the solar power plant, are responsible for the safety of the employees. This is specified in the applicable legal texts (BauAV/construction task regulation, VUV/regulation relating to accident prevention, and UVG/law on accident insurance). However, the client or owner can be made responsible if the accident is ascribed to defective equipment or manufacture, or a deficient fall protection system (strict liability). If there is a breach of the duty of care, then the owner may also face consequences under criminal and liability law. 

For all involved, it is therefore very important always to ensure absolute safety on the roof for the full duration of the project, from the planning to the completed installation of the system, and then on to the cleaning and maintenance tasks. This requires a certified, correctly installed fall protection system. In addition, all access routes on the roof must be at least 60 cm wide. At the side, the separation should be no greater than 25 cm, and equipment such as drains or connections must be freely accessible at all times.

Link to the website of Schweizerische Unfallversicherung SUVA (Swiss Accident Insurance Association)


These mistakes are made frequently in practice

Unfortunately it often occurs that solar system installers or installation companies simply get on with the work without sufficient preparation or research, and just install the PV system on the roof. However, this is exactly what § 3 of the Austrian employee protection act – “General obligations of employers” makes mandatory: in this regard, the original text states “Employers must inform themselves appropriately about the latest state of the art and about learnings relating to how work is structured, taking into account the risks that are present”.

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Here is an extract from the German legal text regarding industrial safety (occupational safety act - ArbSchG): In Germany the employer is obliged to implement the necessary industrial safety measures which affect the safety and health of the employees while they are working. In addition, he must ensure that the measures taken for this purpose are complied with by all those involved, and that the employees are able to fulfil their obligations to cooperate.

It is also essential not only that the fall protection systems implemented are tested and approved, but also that they are appropriate for the respective application and, of course, also certified accordingly. For this too, thorough research is required, or even collaboration with a trustworthy manufacturer of safety solutions for PV installations on a roof. Using a low price as the sole selection criterion can have fatal consequences. Indeed, the safety of the implemented fall protection system is often determined only when an emergency occurs. A cheap solution is a classical example of the illusion of safety! According to the Labour Protection Act, the employer is also obliged to avoid such mistakes. In some cases, a safety specialist in one’s own company will also need training, in order to have the necessary expertise in this regard. 


Benefits of fall protection systems which are installed on the PV substructure

A fall protection system installed directly on the PV substructure on a roof enjoys a number of technical and practical benefits compared with other solutions. It requires no additional space, and so the roof surface can be used optimally for solar panels, without creating any shading. But even from the legal viewpoint, systems held by superimposed load are advantageous, because only the statics of their combined structure require examination. In addition, using such solutions, the entire roof surface is fully visible, and so potential obstructions on the roof no longer represent a safety risk. Furthermore, there is no need to open the roof cladding. In the medium and long term this can cause leak points, and damage the statics of the roof. 

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Collaboration of AUVA and the Labour Inspectorate in practice

While the Labour Inspectorate is responsible for regulatory compliance related to the Labour Protection Act by businesses and on construction sites, and conducts approval processes, AUVA is responsible for supporting and advising companies in terms of pre-emptive accident prevention. In other words: AUVA helps solar system installers and operators of PV systems to correct the defects detected by the Labour Inspectorate. For this purpose prevention centres throughout Austria employ experts in workplace health and safety.  You will find further information here.



Installing a photovoltaic system on a roof means that its surface is accessed more frequently. Those working in this location are therefore present in an area subject to fall risk. Under these circumstances, not just the operators of PV systems on a roof, but also the solar system installers and installation companies are responsible for their employees and are liable for accidents which were preventable if the correct, legally compliant safety precautions had been implemented. In the event of negligence, there is a threat of severe penalties and possibly also of proceedings under civil law. While the Labour Inspectorate reports safety deficiencies on a roof, AUVA/SUVA help affected companies to correct these.

Contact us immediately for further information. Our experts are very happy to support you in finding the optimum fall protection system for the respective PV system on your roof. That way, you have absolute legal certainty at all times. And: download our checklist/tips on this topic now!

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