Individual fall protection for photovoltaic system on flat roofs
How to protect your maintenance and cleaning staff professionally
A number of dangers lurk on a flat roof. These include breakthroughs and an increased risk of falling close to edges. As well as this, the PV system operators wish to use the roof surfaces as extensively as possible for the production of solar power.
However, this generally means that there is little room for cleaning and servicing tasks on the panels. Often, only narrow routes directly adjacent to the roof edge are available for use by installers, solar technicians, or other workers.
This is where a professional fall protection system is essential. For example, the option exists to connect the fall protection system directly to the substructure of the solar system.
This means that no further space is required for the installation of the fall protection system, and no additional obstacles are created which could also become safety risks.
In this article you will find potential safety systems for your PV system on a flat roof. These can be rail or cable systems, as well as single anchorage devices with personal protective equipment, or even the combination of one or more of these components.
Collective versus individual protection. What is the optimum solution for my PV system?
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 a roof 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 workers and cleaning and servicing staff singly from falling. In this case, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is a mandatory legal requirement.
However, collective protection requires more space, and on a roof where a PV system is mounted, this is anyway a precious commodity.
In addition, the collective protection must cast no shadows on the solar cells, as this would impair the system’s efficiency.
Individual safety solutions for your PV system on a flat roof
For reasons of space, modern fall protection systems are mounted directly on the substructure of the PV system. The INNOTECH range includes the AIO lifeline system, as well as the TAURUS rail safety system and SINGLE ANCHOR POINTS.
In addition, our fall protection systems can be combined with each other, and thereby also optimally adapted to all current situations. All INNOTECH components are always tested and certified in combination with the substructure of the PV system.
This is the only way to determine whether, in an emergency, the combined structure can actually withstand the loads. We now examine the solutions in rather more detail.
The various solutions in detail
- The use of STA posts, for example, allows the various fall protection systems to be connected directly to the roof cladding. Then, if a fall occurs, the forces arising are dissipated into the roof structure.
- 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.
- Equally, variants held by superimposed load include the AIO, TAURUS, and SINGLE ANCHOR POINTS safety systems, when they are attached directly to the substructure of the onsite PV system.
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.
Installation directly on the PV substructure means that the roof surface can be exploited to the full.
It should be noted that single anchor points are above all suited to the securing of 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 attachment into another safety system, then this is easily possible, and at the same time comprehensive protection on a flat roof is ensured.
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 mentioned above, the use of personal protective equipment is a mandatory legal requirement.
Depending on the area of use, various safety harnesses (PSA-STRING) are available. However, in order for a falling installer or worker to be safely intercepted, a PPE LANYARD is also absolutely essential.
This creates the safe connection between the anchor point and the personal protective equipment. As an ideal enhancement, appropriate ASSOCIATED PPE EQUIPMENT provides even more convenience.
Benefits 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.
- No penetration of the roof cladding when individual protection solutions held by superimposed load are used (e.g.when the fall protection system is attached directly to the PV substructure).
- Protection of the entire roof surface using just a single safety system.
- 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 windows.
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 installers and solar technicians to move about freely and above all safely on the roof and along the PV system. However, as already mentioned above, the space required for such a system often does not exist.
In addition, a fall protection system should not reduce the efficiency of the PV system, for example by casting shadows on the panels. Here is an extract 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
Benefits 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.
The importance of certification
While all individual protection systems from INNOTECH are permanently attached to the substructure of the PV system, and are accordingly also tested and certified in this combination, most other manufacturers and providers of fall protection for PV systems fail to provide this important service.
Generally the fall protection system is certified only as an individual component, but in practice this is insufficient. Those responsible, as well as servicing and cleaning staff, are lulled into a so-called illusion of security, which can however have fatal consequences.
Because not just the fall protection system itself, but also the substructure upon which it was installed must withstand the loads created by a fall from height.
Summary Fall protection photovoltaic flat roofs
Working on photovoltaic systems on flat 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, and these are often overlooked.
The fall protection systems from INNOTECH cover all common circumstances on flat roofs, and are fully state of the art. In addition, the individual protection systems can be installed directly on the PV system substructure.
The fall protection system therefore requires hardly any space on the roof. Naturally, the load-bearing capacity of all fall protection systems is always tested and certified when combined with the respective substructure. But the most important thing is: They provide 100% protection!
Simply contact us! Our experts will be very happy to support you in finding the optimum fall protection for your PV system.
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.
Why you need a safety concept for your photovoltaic system
Clients are obliged to make tasks performed on their roof as safe as possible
voor de pers
INNOTECH Arbeitsschutz GmbH is in 2001 opgericht als familiebedrijf met hoofdvestiging in Kirchham, ca. 60 km ten zuiden van Linz, Oostenrijk. De onderneming heeft zich van begin af aan gericht op internationale normen op het gebied van industriële veiligheid en heeft zich ten doel gesteld, de doorontwikkeling van innovatieve producten voor verschillende markten door te zetten. INNOTECH is als een van de grootste fabrikanten in Europa, gespecialiseerd in de productie van verankeringsvoorzieningen.
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