Health & Safety When Installing Solar Panels
Much emphasis has been placed on reducing carbon footprint and making our homes more eco-friendly in recent years, and there are now plenty of ways you can make your home greener. From saving water and keeping an eye on your heating, to reducing waste and using energy efficient light bulbs, there are so many options for going green at home.
Even building is becoming more eco-friendly with builders considering alternative materials and building practices that help to create green homes. One easy way to ensure your house is more eco-friendly is to install solar panels to power it. Solar panels are made up of a collection of solar cells spread across a wide area; these cells will then collect solar radiation directly from the sun. As the solar panels collect the radiation it is converted into electricity to be used throughout the home.
Using solar power to run your home will reduce your carbon footprint by around 20% per year, as solar power is renewable and therefore ‘cleaner’ than regular electricity, which is created through the combustion of fossil fuels and produces carbon dioxide as a result. As well as helping to make our homes greener, solar panels will reduce your electricity bills dramatically, and those handy panels can also add value to your house.
So, how easy are they to install? Much easier than you think! Unlike most home improvements that can be incredibly disruptive, solar panels can usually be installed within a day and the majority of the labour is carried out on the roof of your home. Even when it comes to connecting the panels you will only lose your power supply for a matter of minutes whilst new connections are made.
As with any type of building work, especially building work that is carried out at height there are elements of health and safety that must be considered.
Access – When installing solar panels it is essential to ensure all workmen have proper access to the area. The Ladder Association advises against using ladders when installing solar panels and instead recommends the use of scaffolding or mobile elevating work platforms. The National Access and Scaffolding Confederation advocates the use of independent tied scaffold to aid solar panel installation.
Working at Height – Working at height includes safe access and planned prevention of falls from edges. Whether you are using ladders or scaffolding it is important to follow the correct procedures for use, erection, positioning etc. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) states that best practice when installing solar panels requires trained, dedicated working at height maintenance teams to access risks and select appropriate equipment before any work is carried out.
Safe Areas – Safe areas are especially important when installing solar panels at a domestic property. Workmen should take precautions to prevent unauthorised access, especially by children. There should also be a specific safe area that unauthorised persons cannot enter in order to prevent injuries from falling items.
Weight – The size and weight of the panels that are being installed determines the type of scaffolding and also the method of installation. Check best practice guides to ensure all workmen are handling the correct weights in an appropriate and safe manner to prevent injury and damage. To comply with best practice standards set by the HSE, when installing solar panels it is necessary to avoid any manual handling risks by using pulley systems to transport panels.
Electrical Safety – Remember, working with solar panels is still electrical work and it is essential to turn all power off when working with electrics. As with all expert installation and maintenance work, electrical work should only be carried out by trained professionals.
Training – Installation of the panels and operation of equipment should only be undertaken by fully trained operatives. Any installation must comply with health and safety regulations.
If you are considering installing solar panels for your home check whether you could be eligible for a government grant to help cover the cost. Although you can quickly cover your costs in energy savings after installation there are various schemes and grants available to homeowners to encourage the use of renewable energy in the home.
About the Author:
Ryan Burch a proud member of the team at High Speed Training Ltd, one of Europe’s leading e-learning providers. We actually formed in 2007 as a specialist consultancy in food hygiene but have since grown our offering considerably and now have over 42 high quality online learning products, created in partnership with a specialist company in each relevant field. You can view the full range of career courses here.