Solar Power Safety a Concern for ‘Green’ Workers in South Carolina, Nationwide

In the news recently was the announcement of the opening of the newest Boeing Co. factory in Charleston, S.C. The Post and Courier reports that within the next few months, the new Interiors Responsibility Center will begin to manufacture, integrate and install the insides for Boeing 787 Dreamliners made in South Carolina. The Boeing plant is considered one of the first one-stop-shops for Boeing 787’s where the interior components will be built and installed all in one factory.
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Creating a safe work environment and worker safety inside the building is not the only thing our Spartanburg workers’ compensation lawyers are concerned about. The new factory also made headlines for being the largest installation for rooftop solar energy in this part of the country. We know that the installation and maintenance of solar and wind power energy sources on a building or rooftop can be every bit as dangerous as working around machines and large plane parts inside the building.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the installation of photovoltaic panels on the Boeing Co. plant began back in May and was recently completed in October by workers at South Carolina Electric & Gas. The array on the roof can generate enough solar energy to power 250 homes, which is approximately 2.6-megawatts of power. The 14-acre roof (equivalent to roughly 8 football fields) is covered by more than 18,000 thin film solar panels. Officials at South Carolina Electric & Gas report renewable energy sources like bio-fuels will provide the remaining source of power needed to energize the Boeing plant.

Green energy is important in preserving a healthy and safe environment for our future but it doesn’t come without certain risks for workers injured by solar power accidents in Greensboro and throughout the country. Workers in the solar energy industry are exposed to electrical hazards that can lead to electrocution and arc-flash hazards.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, workers are at risk of severe burns or electric shocks when installing panels for solar energy. They are also at risk of fall accidents because it typically requires working at elevated levels or on top of slanted or flat roofs well above ground level.

Employers are required to develop hazard prevention and control methods in order to prevent workplace injuries and create a safe environment for their workers. Worker training requirements are outlined in OSHA’s Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Standard.

All workers in the electric power industry must be provided with personal protective equipment, which includes face shields, hard hats, protective glasses, safety shoes, flame-resistant clothing and insulated rubber gloves with leather protectors. Workers should also be provided with insulating protective equipment such as rubber-lined hoses, blankets and hoods, and fiberglass or phenolic barriers.

Though the number of work-related solar incidents is difficult to gauge, it is still a rising concern for workers’ compensation attorneys in North Carolina and nationwide. Natural energy sources can create a safer living environment for the public, so as the industry continues to grow employers must take the necessary safety precautions to keep workers safe in a dangerous work environment.

The workers’ compensation attorneys at Lee Law Offices P.A. are dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured workers and their families in North or South Carolina. If you have been injured at work and wish to have a free consultation with an experienced work-related accident lawyer, call 1-800-887-1965 today.

Additional Resources:
Boeing opens newest factory, by Brendan Kearney, The Post and Courier.

Power up: Boeing flips switch on solar array, by the Associated Press, posted in Bloomberg Businessweek.

More Blog Entries:
Green Jobs Bring Promise, Risk of New Work Injuries in North Carolina, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, December 29, 2010.

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