AE 868
Commercial Solar Electric Systems

PV System Safety

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As we discussed earlier, PV systems consist of multiple mechanical and electrical components, and so safety practices and procedures are critical to reducing or eliminating installation errors, electrical hazards, or injury (or death) on job sites. We saw that NEC has guides for safety requirements for designing and installing PV systems such as voltage and current limits, OCPD and ground-fault devices, and disconnects.

Aside from the aforementioned regulations, this section describes safety practices and procedures that must be used to install PV systems. PV is an electrical system, and workers can get injured. Non-electrical hazards are usually caused by human error, due to carelessness or failure to adhere to safety requirements. Installers should be alerted to different non-electric hazards they may encounter on the installation site. Cuts, bumps, falls, and sprains can cause as much hazard and lost time as electrical shock and burn hazards.

Occupancy Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

The Occupancy Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) creates a set of regulations that requires employers to provide a safe place for employees while reducing hazards. OSHA 29 CFR part 1926 applied to general construction practices includes several practices applicable to PV systems. OSHA 10 is a recommended basic training for all workers.

In order for PV installers to reduce/eliminate their number of injuries, an awareness of potential hazards and a program where safety rules are frequently reviewed are required. This can be accomplished based on safety training series' offered to workers. Construction sites contain a number of risks that we will discuss in this section. Installers should know that these risks are continuously changing based on new materials and technologies, so regular updates on these topics are recommended.

Note:

There was a time when training was not available for workers to comply with safety regulations. One of the best, effective ways to convey the importance of complying with regulations is by illustrating real examples of incidents. For that reason, OSHA has put together a series of training videos to make training appealing to workers. Some of these videos on the following pages are directly related to PV installations and some are general examples of construction work related hazards. We encourage our solar professionals to watch all videos to get an idea about the importance of OSHA training and safety regulations in general.