Harnessing The Power of The Sun
In SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) president Rhone Resch’s 2010 Year in Review, he stated that “solar energy is now one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, creating new opportunities for both large and small businesses.” He’s absolutely right; “According to Renewable Energy Access, demand for solar has [grown] by at least 25% every year for the last fifteen years” (The Dawn of Solar Power, Hassan). This growth exceeds all other industries in the US.
This is an incredible statistic of great magnitude for it affirms the solar industry’s place in our national market. This new “Boom!” industry positively affects each and every American Taxpayer because the return on investment exceeds the principal. (That’s a tax dollar well invested)
Solar Industry jobs are providing thousands of Americans new professions, better lives, and a stable place within a wavering economy. The average American Consumer is already beginning to see reductions in monthly home energy bills due to advances in solar technology which makes alternative residential energies affordable. The TGP, or Treasury Grant Program, is a federal initiative providing tax incentives for solar companies up to 30%. Coupled with federal encouragement are our states pro-solar incentives which in the state of California can reach up to 40%! This allows new opportunities like solar power leasing, currently offered by SolarCity and Sungevity, to emerge as a financially feasible option for the blue-collared middle-class American.
It is this influx of competition that has propelled many solar companies to reach out to VSI for help; either because they’re green to the business, or they’re established and seeking better fall protection service in lieu of settling with average fall protection “brand names”.
Headquartered in the great state of California, the premier U.S. leader of Solar Energy Solutions, VSI decided to extend their expertise to the western powerhouses of the solar industry. We lent an ear to their fears, questions, and concerns as well as inquired about their previous solutions to safe elevated solar installation and maintenance.
What we discovered was a proactive industry. Not perfect by any means, but eager to learn, adapt, and succeed.
The two biggest problems VSI detected were residential fall protection provisions and rooftop skylights. These are both easily fixable problems with the right education.
The biggest advice for the small residential solar companies is Tie Off. The residential suburban roof has the reputation of being as safe and secure as 1950’s television programming, but it’s not the case. It is estimated that over 150 solar installation injuries occur each year and that will only grow as the industry expands. Each installation should be assessed prior to installation for fall risks and an appropriate site specific fall safety plan should then be drafted and implemented. VSI recommends solar companies, Highlight, Underline, and Bold the following within their safety plan: Workers should tie-off to secured anchor points whenever they are higher than 6’. It’s hard to overlook that.
VSI recommends spending a day reading and understanding OSHA Residential Fall Protection as well as the links at the bottom of it. The information directly pertains to residential construction but many of the same solutions apply directly to Solar Installation. Also, read the following article on residential roofing revisions.
As for Skylights, they should be addressed from the moment of the first walk-through or site assessment. There is no longer an excuse for working within 6’ of unprotected skylights. Again according to OSHA, all skylights are categorized as open holes and thus working within 6’ of such necessitates proper fall protection. Hopefully solar companies see the light before them for they are in a unique position to install and permanently secure thousands of roofs. Solar companies will not only be securing roofs for their employees but for anyone and everyone who ever ventures out onto that specific roof. A True Win-Win for Client and Provider.
· Skylights can be secured with skylight covers like these: Skylight Covers
· Or they can be guarded with guardrail like these: Guardrails
These aren’t the only solutions but are the best in VSI’s opinion.
Knowing the threats is the first step toward avoiding incident, the second is seeking help.
We’re not your average fall protection company.
We’re Versatile Systems, Inc. Average doesn’t work here.