Solar energy in the United States is growing at a record pace. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, in the last decade solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 33%. While this boom has many environmental benefits, it has the disadvantage of changing rooftop traffic patterns to unprotected roof edges. Even if you’ve already installed your rooftop solar panels it’s not too late to reduce the risk of a severe injury, or even a fatality taking place.
Why Do Rooftop Solar Systems Increase the Risk of Falling?
One reason is more personnel will now be on the roof, more frequently. Solar panels atop rooftops necessitate not only the installation, but also the maintenance of those devices. This means that people will be on the roof more regularly, increasing the frequency of risk exposure.
This is most likely the more serious threat. When solar panels are installed over the majority of the roof’s surface, what was formerly a clear walking area becomes one that squeezes people into narrower spaces around skylights and roof openings. Workers have less space to maneuver around rooftop risks, making them even more dangerous. Unprotected edges are especially precarious for falls that can cause serious injury or death. OHSA 1910.28(b) (13) requires all workers within 6' of the edge to be protected by a fall protection system for this reason.
The first step to improving rooftop safety is to have a rooftop safety audit performed on your facility. This will help to identify all potential slip, trip, and fall hazards that may exist. Kee Safety offers complimentary rooftop safety audits. After identifying any hazards, the next step would be to look at OSHA compliant rooftop guardrail solutions.
The presence of extra equipment and electrical wires on the roof from solar equipment increases the number of trip hazards.
All of these considerations highlight the need of having adequate fall protection when working on a rooftop with a solar installation.
Kee Guard is the industry leading modular, free-standing safety railing system that is not fixed directly to the roof membrane. It’s an OSHA compliant, permanent, and dependable safety guardrail barrier for a roof edge that is suitable for virtually any flat roof up to a 5° slope – keeping your workforce safe. Kee Guard is the safety rail standard recognized for superior rooftop fall protection by companies all over the world.
Kee Walk provides a safe, anti-slip, level walkway for workers who need to access a roof in the course of their work. This roof walkway provides safe access to rooftop solar installations. Its intelligent design protects the roof surface from unnecessary damage and integrates easily with either guardrails or lifeline systems.
Contact us today to help you assess and solve your rooftop hazards. Together, we will work to find the right solution to protect those on your site.
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