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Occupational hazards of solar panel installation


Dec 16, 2021
article - Occupational hazards of solar panel installation

This article is about the occupational hazards of solar panel installation.

Installing solar panels

The introduction and rapid expansion of solar technology has brought with it a number of occupational hazards for workers responsible for panel installation. Guidelines for safe solar panel installation exist,[1] however the injuries related to panel installation are poorly quantified.

There is concern for long term health effects acquired from prolonged ultraviolet radiation and from lifting heavy panels. The lack of data regarding these concerns makes increasing awareness for worker safety more challenging.

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With regard to PV occupational safety, there are differing exposures depending on the stage of involvement in Solar energy production. This can be broken down into four stages. Exposures and their impacts on worker health intricately depend on the PV life-cycle stage, as well as depth and duration of system involvement by the individual.

There is a wide variety of tasks required by the PV industry. These include scientists and engineers for material development, workers who pilot manufacturing facilities, miners and millers, factory manufacturers, power electronics, planners, developers, installation crews who work with electrical grids, transportation jobs, and recycling industry.[2]

Hazards in this stage are mainly chemical in nature. They include crystalline silicon, amorphous silicon thin film, cadmium telluride thin film, copper indium selenide, copper indium gallium selenide, and gallium arsenide.[2][3][4] These are highly toxic and flammable; hazardous exposures can come via chemical burns, explosions, and inhalation of gaseous fumes. Other routes can include hand-to-mouth contact or accidental ingestion. Most solar cells start as quartz, which is later refined into elemental silicon, which risks lung disease silicosis amongst miners.[5]

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