Solar Panel Installers Have Good Job Security, Higher Safety Risk?

More than one-third of all new solar power will come from installations in California, according to a recent study. As the San Francisco Chronicle notes, the industry is growing rapidly:

The amount of solar generating capacity installed year by year has quadrupled since 2006, driven by government incentives, consumer demand and a plunge in prices. “Looking forward, the question isn’t whether the U.S. (photovoltaic) market will grow, but how fast it will grow,” said Shayle Kann, managing director of solar research for GTM.

That’s great news in an uncertain jobs climate in the Golden State, especially with the race to take advantage of incentives and growing demand, as well as enforced mandates for utilities to incorporate renewable energy. But as FairWarning points out, the industry combines three dangerous occupations: roofing, carpentry and electrical installation. Now, one installer is facing fines from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. But the problem could grow because:

There are no federal or California workplace safety rules — and few, if any, rules in other states — that specifically apply to solar installers. As a result, companies deal with a hodgepodge of regulations.

While some of these issues in safety at the workplace are a matter of workers’ compensation, improper installation techniques may also lead to unsafe environments for pedestrians or even homeowners.

[Image: U.S. Army Environmental Command via Flickr]