The occupational safety implications of the California residential rooftop solar photovoltaic systems mandate

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Introduction: A 2018 change to the California building code mandates that new residential construction in the state include rooftop solar photovoltaic power systems beginning in 2020. As residential construction (especially work on rooftops) is among the more dangerous occupations in the United States, this paper seeks to quantify the increased risks to workers as a result of this mandate. Method: An analysis of the trends by occupation of nonfatal safety incident rates in the United States combined with a Monte Carlo simulation provide an estimate of the uncertain impact of this new mandate. Results: Recordable safety incidents are anticipated to increase by a total of 16.6 incidents (standard deviation = 1.0 incidents) over the 2020–2029 time period as a result of this policy change. However, lessons from Germany and other industries offer potential avenues to reduce the negative social impact of this mandate. Conclusions: While it is not possible to increase employment in any sector without increasing the expected number of occupational injuries to some degree, these results indicate that risks could be considerably reduced by making solar PV system design decisions that increase worker productivity and reduce roof exposure time. Practical Applications: Changes such as eliminating work on roofs could decrease the expected number of recordable injuries over the 10-year period by 0.30 incidents per year (a reduction of 18%).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-150
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Safety Research
StatePublished - Sep 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Building and Construction
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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