Solar Homes Program targeting safety as a priority

Monday, 1 July 2019 at 9:00 am

Solar Victoria’s state-wide safety and audit program is putting pressure on the fast-growing home solar installation industry to ensure installation teams are working safely and not putting workers and householders at risk.

Solar Victoria’s Acting Chief Executive, Jonathan Leake, said Solar Victoria would take a risk based approach to inspect up to 5% of all solar installations benefiting from Victorian Government rebates under the Solar Homes Program (the Program).

In addition to the audit program, a proactive, unannounced inspection program during installation is being delivered by WorkSafe Victoria and Energy Safe Victoria.

“Victoria’s workplace and electrical safety legislation is not new, so regulators will be acting swiftly if basic issues are not being dealt with,” Mr Leake said.

“This Program supports good solar businesses and installers who are doing the right thing.”

“Underperforming installers and solar retailers are given the result of audits and are told to bring them to the required standard. In some cases, systems are switched off until that work is done.”

Solar Victoria will deal directly with installers and retailers that fall short of our standards and refer them to Energy Safe Victoria, and Solar Victoria’s enforcement committee, which includes the Clean Energy Council, Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Victorian Building Authority.

Solar Victoria

“Solar retailers and installers cannot afford to let standards slip. We will continue to target those that do not perform well," Mr Leake said.

“We’re supporting good solar companies and installers who are doing the right thing. Ultimately, Solar Victoria reserves the right to determine which individuals and companies are part of the Solar Homes Program. Safety compliance is a strong factor in those considerations.”

“WorkSafe and Energy Safe Victoria are conducting two types of inspections which are identifying areas where the industry needs to lift its game,” Mr Leake said. 

Onsite safety inspections at homes when solar systems are installed are being conducted by WorkSafe with working at height, fall protection, manual handling and electrical safety issues of particular concern.

WorkSafe has developed specific safety guidance for the solar installation industry, Working Safely when installing photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Post-installation inspections are being carried out by independent safety auditors commissioned by Solar Victoria and take up to two hours to complete.

They are ensuring systems are safely installed to Australian Standards and Clean Energy Council Best Practice Guidelines so that manufacturers’ warranties are not made void.

Mr Leake said safety failings could have serious human and commercial consequences for installers who took shortcuts with safety. 

“We’ll use the information gathered to educate the industry on where improvement is needed, and remind it that there are consequences for poor performance, including enforcement action and the potential for disqualification from the Solar Homes Program,” Mr Leake said.

To build industry service standards auditors will also quiz customers about their experience with sales staff and installation teams.