Victorian rooftop solar company charged over 2018 fatal fall

A Victorian rooftop solar company will face court in Bendigo after being charged in relation to a 2018 incident where a 21-year old employee died after falling from a ladder while installing panels on a residence in the suburb of Kennington.

WorkSafe Victoria said on Thursday that Solar 2.0 Pty Ltd had been charged with two breaches of section 21(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to maintain a working environment that was safe and without risks to health.

WorkSafe said it would also allege that the company, which according to ASIC was registered in 2017, failed to implement a Safe Work Method Statement for the high risk construction work.

The matter, which is listed for a filing hearing at the Bendigo Magistrates Court on April 15, relates to an incident on 30 November, 2018, when a 21-year-old male worker died after falling from a ladder while installing solar panels on a single-storey residence.

WorkSafe said at the time that it was investigating the incident, and reminded employers of risk control requirements applicable to fall hazards typically associated with solar panel installation on residential premises.

The timing of the tragic death coincided roughly with the launch in Victoria of the state government’s generous rooftop solar rebate offering to cover half of the cost, up to a maximum of $2225, of household PV systems.

The rebate scheme, as One Step Off The Grid has reported, has been a huge success, and Solar Victoria – which oversees it for the Andrews government – has done an admirable job of trying to ensure that the inevtiable boom in installations that it would bring did not lower the standards of the rooftop solar industry.

This included the establishment of a new taskforce to help monitor the rollout of $60 million Solar Homes scheme, including Consumer Affairs Victoria – to help combat high-pressure sales tactics, inaccurate marketing and poor service – and WorkSafe, Energy Safe and the Victorian Building Authority to focus on enforcing “long standing OHS and electrical safety requirements.”

On top of that, as Solar Quotes reported on Friday, shortly after the 2018 incident WorkSafe published a rooftop specific safety guideline – “Working safely when installing photovoltaic (PV) systems”.

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