New technology, new safety issues

Roof-mounted PV systems pose unique safety considerations

Roof-mounted photovoltaic (PV) systems are an innovative and dynamic area within the roofing industry. New, affordable technology has emerged, allowing a wide spectrum of buildings to generate electricity from their previously inactive roof surfaces. However, with this technology come risks to roofing workers—some familiar, such as fall hazards, and some much less familiar but just as deadly, such as electrical shock and electrocution.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations broadly cover some hazards involved with PV system installation and maintenance but provide little specific direction for safety issues presented by roof-mounted PV systems.

Regulatory background

OSHA regulations in 29 CFR 1926, "Safety and Health Regulations for Construction," apply to employees engaged in "construction work"—work performed under a contract for "construction, alteration and/or repair." OSHA general industry regulations located in 29 CFR 1910, "Occupational Safety and Health Standards," apply to other industries not including construction, agriculture or maritime segments.