Informa Markets

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February 1, 2012

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Safe solar-panel installation

As councils and housing providers increasingly turn to solar energy to help residents reduce their household energy bills as well as their impact on the environment, they need to know how to manage the risks to their workforce when carrying out tasks above ground level.

Consequently, repairs and maintenance provider Kier is developing safe systems of work at height to install photovoltaic panels. The company has installed thousands of solar panels to the homes of council tenants across the country, and the panels will be maintained under contract by Kier for the next 25 years.

Health and safety personnel at the company recently met the HSE to discuss best practice when working at height and demonstrate to the regulator Kier’s approach to health and safety. For example, it has established specially trained, dedicated working-at-height maintenance teams, which assess the risks of any job at height and select the most appropriate equipment.
The Kier health and safety team has also addressed the transport of solar panels from ground level to operatives working on roof tops. To avoid manual-handling risks Kier uses a simple pulley system to transport panels.
The company’s national health and safety manager, Neil Sheehan, said: “It’s all about working together for the safety of all. Within the construction sector there are always going to be instances where people could potentially be put at risk, whether this is working at height, lifting heavy equipment, or travelling for business purposes.

“As an employer, it is our job to ensure this risk is kept to a minimum and our workforce remains safe in every aspect of their jobs. We are constantly updating and adapting our health and safety procedures to ensure new technologies and innovative ways of working are considered.”
For more information on Kier’s photovoltaic panels installation programme, visit

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12 years ago

From a “clients” perspective, it’s not always the installation that’s the issue.
Installations are relatively easy to carry out safely; it’s carrying out cleaning, repair, maintenance once the scaffolding / edge protection has gone that is more our concern. If Solar panel suppliers / installers / designers put a bit more thought into that area it would be helpful. CDM Designers duties etc.