Solar safety

Working with rooftop photovoltaic systems presents fall-protection compliance issues

Recent technological advances, improved aesthetics and valuable government incentive programs for photovoltaic (PV) roof systems have expanded their feasibility to a wider variety of building types. If you install or are considering installing PV systems, you may find yourself challenged during the job-hazard analysis project phase to determine Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fall-protection rules applicable to PV roof system installations.

In some cases, available fall-protection controls you rely on may not be applicable to PV system installations. The nature of the installation and the material used may dictate how you protect your workers from fall hazards.

Fall-protection overview

Fall protection in the U.S. roofing industry is required under federal OSHA jurisdiction by the provisions found in 29 CFR 1926.500-503, Subpart M. However, though most OSHA state-plan states have incorporated these federal fall-protection regulations and their specific fall-protection control systems into their rules for worker protection, some state-plan states such as Arizona, California, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington have unique fall-protection requirements that differ significantly from federal rules. In some states, broader fall-protection system options for workers are available to select based on the nature of the work and hazards faced.