Research Portal

July 1, 2022

Application of Prevention Through Design (PTD) to Improve the Safety of Solar Installations on Small Buildings

Ho, Chung; Lee, Hyun Woo; Gambatese, John A. (2020). Application of Prevention Through Design (PTD) to Improve the Safety of Solar Installations on Small Buildings. Safety Science, 125.

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As a viable, clean and renewable energy resource, solar energy has gained a significant interest in the US residential sector. Most solar systems are installed on rooftops to take advantage of available space and reduce land use. However, this installation environment also exposes workers to unique safety hazards related to existing roof conditions such as slippery roofing materials, irregular roof layouts, and steep roof slopes. Although Prevention through Design (ND) has been widely considered as an effective way to address safety issues during the design phase, little to no studies have applied ND to improve safety in solar energy installations. To fill this knowledge gap, this research aimed to investigate how, during the design phase, to address the safety concerns of solar workers when installing solar energy systems on residential buildings. Through a series of interviews, four case studies, and a seminar, seven solar ND attributes were identified: roofing materials, roof slopes, roof accessories, panel layouts, fall protection systems, lifting methods and electrical systems. Based on the attributes, a ND protocol was developed that can serve as guidance for implementing ND in solar installations. This paper presents the research activities and findings, and feedback gained from solar contractors through a seminar on the study. The study is expected to contribute to reducing safety hazards by implementing ND, help improve safety performance in solar installations on small residential buildings and support the promotion of safety in sustainable construction.


Roofing Materials; Renewable Energy Sources; Sustainable Construction; Solar Energy; Clean Energy; Construction Safety; Prevention Through Design; Small Buildings; Solar Installations; Buildings (structures); Construction Industry; Hazards; Occupational Safety; Roofs; Safety; Solar Power; Sustainable Development; Steep Roof Slopes; Design Phase; Solar Energy Installations; Solar Workers; Installing Solar Energy Systems; Residential Buildings; Seven Solar Ptd Attributes; Roof Accessories; Ptd Protocol; Solar Contractors; Safety Performance; Viable Energy Resource; Clean Energy Resource; Renewable Energy Resource; Us Residential Sector; Solar Systems; Installation Environment; Unique Safety Hazards; Roof Conditions; Slippery Roofing Materials; Irregular Roof Layouts; Issues; Accident Prevention; Protocol; Energy Sources; Residential Areas; Land Use; Prevention; Design; Falls; Occupational Hazards; Contractors; Residential Energy; Protection Systems; Renewable Energy; Buildings; Roofing; Layouts