SafeWork NSW is conducting unannounced inspections of rooftop solar panel installations in a move to counteract heightened work health and safety risks as demand soars.
NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, said with State and Federal Government rebates stimulating an increase in solar panel rooftop installations, SafeWork is intent on ensuring the industry puts safety first.
“Last year we saw around 90,000 installations across the state and no doubt there will be even more this year, as many of us look at new ways to reduce costs of living,” Mr Anderson said.
Installing solar systems exposes workers to risks of serious injury, including through falls from ladders, roofs and skylights, as well as electrical risks.
“While our focus is on proactively raising awareness of safe practices, we will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to those who put workers’ lives at risk by not using the right safety gear or conducting work without a licence,” Mr Anderson said.
Mr Anderson said a new workplace safety guide for the industry has been developed in consultation with the Clean Energy Council, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and other key representatives.
The safety guide provides the solar industry with clear direction on controlling risk, including a simple safety checklist for people working in the industry, instructions on developing a site-specific safe work method statement and minimum fall protection measures.
“Businesses that sell, design and install solar systems have duties to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe for every worker,” Mr Anderson said.
“One thing that we’ve got to stress is that no solar installer should be working on a roof without fall protection in place. If you see this happening, please contact SafeWork NSW immediately via the hotline, or the Speak Up app.”
Solar installers face on-the-spot fines of up to $720 for individuals and $3,600 for businesses for not protecting workers from falls from heights and electrical risks.
SafeWork will also be holding safety information events online for solar installers and workers, who can access the $500 small business safety rebate after attending to upgrade safety equipment.