Throughout the installation process, installers must address a myriad of safety concerns, including working at heights and electrical hazards. To address these concerns, installers comply with both federal and state safety regulations.
As part of our installer safety initiatives, SEIA works with OSHA to provide guidance to the industry, participate in updates to regulations, and participate in federal safety initiatives. Additionally, SEIA produces quarterly installer safety webinars, developed through the guidance of the member-led Installer Safety & Workforce Development Working Group.
A worker installs a solar array on a Solar Decathlon house during the 2009 competition on the National Mall in Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy of Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)
The federal government regulates worker safety through the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), a government agency within the Department of Labor, and created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act). The OSHA develops regulations, which carry the authority of law and apply to all states. The applicable regulations to solar installations are found in the Code of Federal Regulations Chapter 29, part 1926 (pdf).
The OSH Act also authorized the creation of the National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH), an agency responsible for scientific research, development of guidance and recommendations, and analysis in the field of workplace health hazards. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control in the Department of Health and Human Services. NIOSH recently began the Prevention through Design Initiative that addresses solar jobs and safety through its Green, Safe, Healthy Jobs program.
NIOSH also provides the E-library of Construction Occupational Safety and health (eLCOSH), which includes the current NIOSH guidance on construction topics.
The OSH Act also authorized states to create their own State Occupational Safety and Health Plans. A state plan must be approved by OSHA, and must be “at least as effective as” comparable federal standards. Many states have already developed their own plans.
The Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association is the organization of officials from the states that operate approved state plans. The OSHSPA serves as a link between the state plans and federal plans, and a link to Congress.