Regulators join forces to support statewide solar rollout
Worksafe, Energy Safe Victoria and the Victorian Building Authority have joined forces to maximise safety for workers and householders during the rollout of 30,000 new solar power and hot water systems across Victoria.
“Agencies across government want to make it very clear that safety breaches will not be tolerated,” Solar Victoria chief operating officer Jonathan Leake says.
“The primary responsibility for safety lies with installers and the people or company employing them.
“Compliance with Victoria’s long-standing workplace health and safety and electrical safety laws has to be the paramount consideration.
“Solar retailers, installation companies, their contractors and workers have very real commercial and personal reasons to getting safety right the first time because there often aren’t second chances.”
The Victorian Government’s Solar Homes program requires installers to be suitably trained, qualified and have the right equipment to safely do their work. That includes fall protection when working at height, electrical safety and meeting a range of other installation requirements.
“This program is an opportunity to really boost Victoria’s solar industry, but rigorous adherence to safety standards is essential,” Jonathan says.
“Failing the safety test may lead to you being removed from the Clean Energy Council’s Accredited Installers lists and referral for investigation and prosecution by the appropriate agency.
“We know most people and companies in the solar installation industry are working hard to do the right thing, but experience shows that people who are under time pressures can ask someone else to do something dangerous, or believe that because they have experience that means they’re safe.
“It actually means it’s a shortcut to disaster.”
Other regulators working to enforce safety
WorkSafe’s acting executive director of health and safety, Paul Fowler, says solar installers needed to ensure they did everything they could to keep their workers safe during the roll-out, including paying close attention to the risks of falls from height.
“Falls from heights occur all too often in the construction industry and the consequences can be life altering and, at times, heart breaking,” Jonathan says.
“For this reason, WorkSafe has no tolerance for employers who ignore the risk of falls, and we do prosecute duty holders for serious breaches of occupational health and safety laws.
“Guidance on how to control the risk of falls from heights is readily available through WorkSafe, and there is no excuse for employers not being aware of what measures should be used.”
A building group was convicted and fined $70,000 last month after a worker fell from a roof while installing solar panels at a Warrnambool property.
Energy Safe director of electrical safety Paul Fearon says that solar installers taking part in the program must hold an unrestricted Class A Electrical Licence registered with Energy Safe Victoria, and be accredited by the Clean Energy Council’s Solar Accreditation Scheme.
“New solar installations must be inspected by a licensed electrical inspector who has the knowledge and experience to inspect solar installations,” Paul says.
Before a new installation can be put into operation, a Certificate of Electrical Safety must be issued and registered with Energy Safe Victoria.
“Our compliance officers will be closely monitoring new installations across the state to ensure they comply with the relevant standards.”
Victorian Building Authority acting executive director of operations John Thompson says solar hot water systems should only be installed by an appropriately registered or licensed plumber.
“Before anyone starts work on your home or business, always make sure they are registered or licensed in water supply work,” John says.
“Completing this simple check will ensure your solar hot water system is compliant and installed efficiently.”
Find out more about the Solar Homes Packages requirements for installers and the quality and safety requirements at www.solar.vic.gov.au.