Yet Another Fall Casualty – Solar Panel Co Cited

Source: zstockphotos - 123RF

Oakland, CA – In yet another case of employers not providing adequate fall protection safety, a solar panel installation company has been cited for multiple serious workplace safety hazards, including one willful serious accident-related violation, following an investigation of a worker who was seriously injured, after they fell from the roof of an Oakland home.

One of the workers lost his footing and fell 15 feet onto the concrete driveway, suffering a broken wrist and jaw. None of the workers was wearing fall protection.

Cal/OSHA has cited Nexus Energy Systems for five violations, three of which were related to the December accident. The violations include:

  • A willful serious accident-related violation as the employer failed to provide fall protection;
  • Two serious violations for the employer’s failure to provide training and ensure compliance with fall protection measures;
  • Two general violations for the employer’s failure to implement an effective heat illness protection plan; and
  • And failure to provide an injury and illness prevention program that identifies and corrects hazards specific to the worksite.

The citations amount to $193,905.

Cal/OSHA also cited the employer for two additional violations stemming from an incident that investigators learned had taken place the previous September, when a worker suffered electrical burns while connecting solar panels to an energized breaker box.

Cal/OSHA noted one serious continuing violation for failing to provide insulated gloves or tools while working on energized equipment and a general violation for the employer’s failure to investigate the industrial accident and take measures to correct safety hazards.

In 2017, there were 366 fatal falls to a lower level out of 971 construction fatalities (BLS data). These deaths are preventable.

According to OSHA, whether conducting a hazard assessment or developing a comprehensive fall protection plan, thinking about fall hazards before the work begins will help the employer to manage fall hazards and focus attention on prevention efforts.

If personal fall protection systems are used, particular attention should be given to identifying attachment points and to ensuring that employees know how to properly use and inspect the equipment.