Are solar panels crippling your fall protection efforts?

The installation of solar panels on commercial and industrial premises across Australia is booming. As the technology in this industry continues to improve, the benefits over traditional energy sources are becoming increasingly apparent and embraced. With the price of electricity and energy continually rising and impacting the bottom line of many businesses, many companies are now taking advantage of their expansive roof spaces to capture the savings solar power systems offer; and to reduce their carbon footprint.

Commercial sized solar panels are not install and forget systems. They require regular inspection and maintenance routines for optimal performance and to maintain your investment. However, due to their location, which is inevitably always located at height, the working at height challenges they present need to be considered.

Working safely around solar panels at height

Roofs are inherently dangerous. As solar panels become more prevalent on new or existing sites, we need to consider the people required to access these rooftops to work on them. These workers are exposed to an increased risk of a fall from height as they navigate building edges, skylights and roof hatches; on a walking surface area considerably reduced due to the size and scale of the solar panels. It is critical that careful thought is given to the effective installation of fall protection systems or to ensure existing systems are still fit for purpose.

With the majority of solar panel systems retrofitted onto existing building rooftops, current fall protection and access systems can become null and void or rendered non-compliant for several reasons:

  • Existing anchor points may get covered by the solar panels during installation.
  • Existing anchor points can become redundant due to their location after the solar panel installation.
  • Existing anchor points are at risk of becoming compromised due to roof structure modifications during solar panel installation.

Bollard Anchor …fall protection for solar panel inspection and maintenance

The Bollard Anchor, custom-designed by Hi-Rise, is the ideal fall protection solution for inspection and maintenance crews working at height on solar panels. Designed for single person use, the Hi-Rise Bollard Anchor can be installed onto a standard purlin roof without additional steelwork. Its unique composition provides many advantages over traditional anchors used around solar panels; the anchor’s features and benefits include:

  • The anchors are designed to extend underneath the solar panels to ensure adequate purlin fixings that may be otherwise hard to reach to ensure correct placement and installation.
  • The Bollard Anchor extends high enough for easy attachment of personal fall arrest systems.
  • The anchor extension and rotating connection point allows the user to work freely and uninterrupted around the solar panels.
  • The anchor height minimises rope, lanyard and hardware contact with the solar panels.
  • The bollard extends high enough for ropes to clear the solar panels without casting a shadow onto the unit that can potentially compromise the output of the whole system.
  • The Hi-Rise Bollard Anchor can be installed onto a standard purlin roof without additional steelwork.
  • The Bollard Anchor is tested to comply with AS/NZS 5532, the Australian and New Zealand Standard for ‘Manufacturing requirements for single-point anchor device used for harnessbased work at height’.

Consulting with clients Hi-Rise’s Engineering team can advise, manufacture, supply and install specialised systems and equipment for fall protection, restraint and access in line with Australian Standards and Codes of Practice that ensures workers safety to the roof area containing your solar panels.

The image below illustrates a custom-designed and fabricated fall protection and access solution for a client with an expansive rooftop solar system that included our Bollard Anchor in combination with a walkway system.

Hi-Rise can be engaged at the design stage to ensure safe and functional access and fall protection systems that integrate with your solar panel layout/installation to mitigate the risks associated with working at height for ongoing inspection and maintenance tasks.

Reach out to a Hi-Rise Specialist for more information on our Bollard Anchor for safe access and fall protection solutions around solar panels.