In the construction industry in the U.S., falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities. Each year, on average, between 150 and 200 workers are killed and more than 100,000 are injured as a result of falls at construction sites. Workers who install solar panels often work on roofs, use ladders and scaffolding are among those who are exposed to fall hazards.
As more solar panels are being installed on the surface of the roof, the walking area which may once have been available may no longer exist. This may force workers to squeeze by or walk very close to skylights. According to OSHA, construction workers who install solar panels and are exposed to fall distances of 6 feet or more must be protected from falls by using one of the following methods:
- guardrail systems
- safety net systems
- personal fall arrest systems
Workers should take the following steps to protect themselves from falls through skylights and roof and floor openings:
- Never sit on, lean against, or step on a skylight or any covering placed over a hole in a roof or floor. The material may not support your weight.
- Guard or securely cover all holes you have created or uncovered before you leave the work area. Other workers might not notice an uncovered hole and fall through.
- Ask your supervisor for safety procedures to follow when covering or guarding a hole.
- Immediately tell your supervisor about any unguarded skylights, roof or floor openings, or other fall hazards in your workplace.
- If you use a PFAS, inspect it daily and report any damage or deficiencies to your supervisor. Tie off only to those anchorage points that your employer has identified as safe.
OSHAcademy has added a very powerful video regarding fall protection and skylight safety in our Fall Protection Program course. Even if you have already completed our training, please take a look at it and use it for your training purposes.