Incident background

A 21-year-old worker has died after falling from a ladder while performing works associated with solar panel installation on a single-storey residence.

WorkSafe is currently investigating this incident and reminds employers of risk control requirements applicable to fall hazards typically associated with solar panel installation on residential premises.

Typical fall hazards associated with solar panel installation on residential premises

Fall hazards and risks typically associated with solar panel installation on residential premises broadly fall into 3 categories. Each has a number of risk control recommendations:

1. Fall risks while accessing or getting down from a roof:

  1. Can the roof be accessed via a portable scaffold access system?
  2. If that is not reasonably practicable, use an ‘industrial rated’ ladder which
    • extends at least 900mm above the step-off point
    • is installed at an appropriate angle (i.e. 4:1)
    • is secured at the top and bottom

2. Fall risks while working at a roof edge:

  1. Can a proprietary guardrail system be installed to roof edges?
  2. If that is not reasonably practicable, use a work positioning system (roofer’s kit) that is:
    • compliant with Australian Standards
    • installed and maintained consistent with the manufacturer's instructions
    • prevents a person reaching a position that would allow them to fall from the roof edge
    • only used by suitably competent persons who have undertaken accredited training

3. Fall risks through fragile roof surfaces:

  1. Can a proprietary guardrail system be installed to the edges of skylights, polycarbonate sheets or fragile roof areas, to prevent access to these areas?
  2. If that is not reasonably practicable, install a solid structure of appropriate rated capacity, for example a mobile platform scaffold, immediately below the fragile surface.
  3. If that is not reasonably practicable, use a work positioning system (consistent with item 2b above).

Support for people affected by a serious workplace incident

Have you been affected by a workplace fatality, illness or serious injury?

For advice and support, call:

  • Beyondblue: phone 1300 224 636
  • Lifeline: phone 13 11 14

Advice and support