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Working Safely With Solar Photovoltaic Systems

Solar photovoltaic systems generate high amounts of electricity that can injure , cause death or start a fire if not installed and maintained safely, remember when you buy a solar power system, you have mini power plant on the ground or the roof, so think about safety first. Sandia National Labs and Daystar published a free book called, “Working Safely with Photovoltaic Systems” to help educate you how to install and maintain a solar power system safely.

The guide states that most of the safety measures are plain common sense although you can get injured working on any size of solar power system if your not careful. Only a few people have been hurt working on PV systems, and according to the book no direct deaths have been reported working on a solar power system, but that does not mean you should let your guard down when installing or maintaining a system. What I found interesting in the comprehensive book is the following overview of hazards:

Hazards working with solar pv systems.

Outdoor Exposure –
If your working outside in the summer time, use sunscreen, wear a hat, keep your limbs covered and drink plenty of water. In the winter time dress warmly and wear gloves.

Insects and Pests – Insects often move into the solar panel j-boxes, some wasps can build a nest on the metal framing, rattle snakes and fire ants can be using the underside of the solar array as shade, so be careful when crawling under a solar panel array, these insects and pests can cause some painful injury.

Cuts & Bumps – A solar power system is made up of metal framing, bolts and nuts, wires, junction boxes that may have sharp edges. If your are working under and array or one that is above your head, wear a hard hat!

Falls, Sprains and Strains – Typically solar power system are installed high on the roof or in remote locations on the ground which can cause falls. When working with your solar power system, wear comfortable shoes, never wear steel toe shoes. If you are using a ladder, make sure its firmly set on the ground and be extra watchful on windy days when solar panels can act as a wind sail and possibly knock you off a ladder.

Burns – Metal exposed in the sun can reach temps. up to 80 degrees, which can cause burns if extended contact is made. If you are working with a concentrated solar power system, temperatures can become very hot and can be very dangerous. To prevent burns wear gloves so you mitigate the risk.

Acid – If you have a grid backup or off grid system, lead acid type batteries contain sulfuric acid. Chemical burns can occur if your skin is exposed to the battery fluid. When working with batteries make sure you work with gloves, eye protection and an apron.

Electric Hazards – electrical accidents can result in shock and burns and cause traumatic injury associated with the falls after the electric shock. Injury is often aggravated due to the reflex of the electric shock. Anytime there are more than two photovoltaic (pv) solar panels a shock hazard should be assumed to be present.

Everyone thinking about installing, maintaining or have a solar power system on your home or business should download the book below and review it to ensure maximum safety.

Download Working Safely with Solar PV Systems

Author: Deep Patel

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