Solar panels or Photovoltaics convert solar energy (sunlight, including ultra violet radiation) directly into electricity. If the sun is out, they are generating electricity, their dark surfaces make them hot to the touch and the wind can turn them into a sail when working on a roof.
Access – How will workers access the solar panel installation? Is there stair access? Will scaffolding or a ladder be required? Have we put in place safety procedures to ensure everyone can get to the installation properly?
Fall Protection - All employees working on the roof should be tied off unless additional safety features such as a guardrail have been put into place.
- Placement – Where will the materials be delivered? How long will they remain in that location? Where will the material be stored? Are there any trip hazards associated with storage/placement?
- Point Loading – Roof structures can only withstand a specific weight load. If we are dropping all of our material onto one location, has that location been designed to bear all of that extra weight?
- Overhead Protection – Will work be taking place beneath the solar panel installation? If so, what steps have we taken to prevent materials from falling off the roof and striking workers below? Do workers beneath the installation know that there is overhead work taking place? Do workers on the roof know there is work taking place below?
- Hoisting – How will the materials be delivered? Will a crane drop them off? If so, are there pinch point concerns we have to worry about when rigging the material to the crane? Who will be responsible for landing and removing the materials? Have they been properly trained to direct the crane operator?
Electrical Shock – Unlike most electrical systems that can be shut off when working on them, solar panels generate electricity as long as they are in the sunlight. Potential electrical arcing requires precaution when connecting panels.
Environmental Factors - Are we doing the installation during the winter? If so how are we dealing with rain/slip, snow or ice hazards? Additional environmental concerns include strong winds, and excessively hot days where workers on the roof are at a greater risk of heat exhaustion. Solar panels get extremely hot in the sun so it is important to wear proper PPE if the panels are exposed to heat.
- Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
- Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
- Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.
Questions for Discussion
- Do we have any young workers on this site?
- In what ways can we reduce injuries in our young workers?