Assessing and Managing Risk on Solar Projects

This article was written by Chidera Azudiugwu

Solar Power, the remarkable potential energy resource with zero-emission, clean and renewable energy, is easily accessible for industrial and domestic use with the additional advantage of minimum maintenance. Due to these advantages, solar projects are proliferating rapidly around the world and present their own unique set of occupational hazards and risks both for humans and the environment. From the environmental standpoint, solar projects are safe for the environment due to zero-emission but are not necessarily good for the safety and health of workers who are employed in them due to the risks involved. 

Poor workplace safety and health have a direct and/or indirect effect on individuals, employers, and society at large as well as the environment. It is necessary to thrive towards attaining the highest standards of health, and safety while ensuring the protection of the environment where we live and work. At Havenhill, our Health, Safety and Environment Management System (HSE-MS) address the various activities carried out by the company and identifies safe procedures for carrying out these activities and methods of eliminating/substituting, reducing or mitigating the occupational risks to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP). There are different measures that can be put in place to ensure operations on solar projects are carried out safely:

Risk assessment

The risks affecting solar projects appear throughout the entire project lifetime. Some examples are the risk of environmental damage, hand injury, fatigue and ergonomics, the collapse of scaffold or ladder, falls, electrocution, and fire.

In managing the risks associated with the solar project it is important to carry out a risk assessment which will involve;  

  1. Identifying all the activities, processes or day-to-day operations to be carried out during the project.
  2. Dividing the identified activities into steps.
  3. Identifying the hazards and risks associated with each step and deciding who may be harmed and how serious it could be.
  4. Developing measures to manage the identified risks to a level that is tolerable and as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP principle).
  5. Recording the findings and continually reviewing the risk assessment.
  6. Taking account of new working practices, new machinery or more demanding work targets. Based on the risk assessment conducted for the project/activity the controls can be defined based on the following Hierarchy of Controls.


Workplace safety training is as vital as workplace safety itself. An effective training program allows team members to learn their jobs properly, brings new ideas into the workplace, reinforces existing ideas and best practices, and puts the safety and health program into action. Due to the hazards associated with solar projects, it is important that the individuals involved are competent to carry out the assigned task. A competent personnel is someone who possesses sufficient training, knowledge, experience and other abilities or skills to be able to carry out their work safely and without risk to health and the environment.


It is important to understand a project as a whole and what’s required to complete it in terms of equipment, time and resourcing in order to develop a safe approach to the project. Planning ahead helps to control the likelihood of an accident occurring. Planning helps in identifying the health and safety requirements and helps in putting control measures in place and maintaining them.


Knowledge is power, as they say, and communicating how to handle a potentially dangerous situation gives workers the potential to save lives. Individuals will better understand the safety procedures to follow if they’re told why they’re in place.


Design plays a key role in safety. By considering safety during the design phase of a project, a lot of risks can be avoided.

Emergency Management

An emergency situation can arise at any time and with it comes panic, confusion and fear. It is a major requirement to provide an effective emergency response procedure for injuries or emergencies. 

Work at Height

Falls from height are major causes of workplace fatalities and as such, it is important that all activities involving work at height are properly managed using the right platform. Ladders and scaffolds must be inspected and erected at a stable surface and only a trained operator should be allowed to operate a lift. 

Worksite Setup

Barricading the worksite using caution cones and tapes to prevent unauthorized access is very essential in ensuring risk to people not directly involved in the project is minimized.

HSE Monitoring

This helps in assessing existing controls to check their relevance and adequacy in order to develop an effective plan of action. HSE monitoring assists in identifying problems and developing solutions to tackle them.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is usually the last line of defence providing a physical barrier between workers and hazards. Although it is the least effective in the hierarchy of control, neglecting its use increases the risk of accidents on the worksite. Using the right PPE at all times for a task will help to improve safety in the workplace.

Image: Safety Culture

Incident investigation and follow up

It is important to report all incidents and ensure it is investigated to determine the root causes and put in measures to prevent reoccurrence.


The benefits of managing risk associated with solar projects, cannot be overemphasized, as it assures the protection of individuals that are involved in solar installations. Through a proactive approach to hazard identification, risk assessment, and systematic management of health & safety concerns, there is improved organizational health and safety. The International Labour Organisation emphasises the need for decent work, and at the core of Havenhill Synergy Limited’s operations is the need to ensure that everyone works and returns back to their families in one piece.

Leave a Reply