Although it is not a safety regulator, the Clean Energy Council’s guidelines for solar panel installation highlights not only qualifications and best practices for installing a system but also best safety practices during installation – including for those who work at height.
With this updated document, WorkSafe Victoria has deemed a harness to be PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) only, which sits at the bottom of the hierarchy of effective measures for protecting workers against injury.
At the top of the hierarchy is hazard elimination, a preventative approach that favours physically removing the hazard from the work area. With this, it is the work area itself that is altered to become safer rather than using equipment to protect those who still will work in a dangerous zone.
Although attitudes are changing, it is a still commonly-held belief of many that it is a waste of time and money to implement measures that adhere to the top of the hierarchy, like with the use of rails or edge protection on rooves.
The design and ingenuity of systems like this over the years, however, has come a long way.
Far from the more ‘permanent’ installations that require excessive drilling on to existing buildings and many man hours, some companies are offering rail systems that are far quicker to install, making preparation time for safety on sites no longer than preparing anchor points for harnesses and lanyards.
Australian company SafeSmart Access have such a thing – EasyRail.
To adhere to the ‘Elimination’ end of the wedge, the EasyRail system only takes about 20 minutes per pack to install. And to keep clients happy, it is a fixing-free system for existing buildings, eliminating any need for repair or patching of where fasteners would have been.
And the lightweight nature of EasyRail’s components also speeds up manual handling and installation time.
For solar panel installers, this means a greater protection of workers whilst maintaining the ability of getting more installs done per day.
Click this image to see the EasyRail system in action: