Plan for safety. A thorough site evaluation may include working with ladders and scaffolding, on slippery or steep roof surfaces, and in adverse weather conditions and confined spaces. If you are considering solar as a profession, it’s a good idea to complete at least an Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) 30-hour class for “construction” or “general industry.” An “OSHA 30” course can be completed online, but receiving some hands-on training with specific safety equipment, such as scaffolding erection and assembling fall-protection systems, is recommended.
Developing a relationship with a local safety firm can also be helpful in getting specialized training, as well as occasional consulting assistance on challenging installations. A comprehensive safety training program should include fall protection, ladders and scaffolding, and the National Fire Protection Association 70E arc flash compliance, for starters. And part of the site evaluation should include photos and other documentation regarding possible anchor points for fall protection, as well as notes regarding any additional safety concerns, such as skylights, overhead utility lines, steep roof surfaces, and other site-specific hazards.
Use a checklist. Make sure all details are covered, using site-evaluation forms and checklists. This includes details like the location of inverter equipment and conduit routing.
Tool up. Even a simple site survey requires basic hand tools for routine tasks, such as inspecting electrical enclosures. A tape measure and roofing chalk will come in handy for marking and capturing the effective shade area around roof obstacles like chimneys and plumbing vents. An appropriate ladder is essential for roof access and capturing “the solar window” for PV arrays elevated above the ground. Be sure to have a reliable light and dust mask or respirator for inspecting the attic and crawlspace. A contractor’s clipboard will keep all of your documents organized. And of course, don’t forget your solar siting tool, inclinometer, compass, and digital camera.