New safety code to make Queensland solar farm jobs safer

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Safety has been put first when it comes to Queensland’s booming renewables industry.

A new code of practice and electrical safety regulations will be put in place next month to enhance safety in the growing commercial solar farm industry.

The new regulations mean only licensed electricians can mount, locate, fix or remove solar panels on solar farms with a total rated capacity of at least 100kW.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the Construction and operation of solar farms Code of Practice 2019 and the Electrical Safety (Solar Farms) Amendment Regulation 2019 would become law on 13 May and cover all Queensland solar farms.

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to achieving 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030,” Ms Grace said.

“As a result, we’ve seen unprecedented growth in the number of commercial solar farms in Queensland and that means jobs for installers.

“These new regulations are all about ensuring we keep pace with new and emerging technologies and keep workers safe.

“But to ensure the safety of these workers, our regulations need to keep pace with these ever-changing technologies.

Ms Grace said stakeholders were concerned about unlicensed workers such as backpackers and labourers mounting and removing live solar panels.

“Solar panels generate power as soon as they are exposed to light and cannot be isolated while they are being mounted,” she said.

“Workers are at risk from electrocution and fires if solar panels are not properly earthed during installation.

“Removing panels can be even more dangerous. These are not jobs for unlicensed workers.

“Introducing the new regulation achieves the right balance between our renewable energy target and ensuring worker and community safety,” Ms Grace said.  

Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Dr Anthony Lynham, said Queensland remained firmly on track to achieve its target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

“Based on strong growth of renewable energy in the state it is estimated Queensland will reach 20 per cent by 2020.

“We already have more than $5b in operational, committed or underway projects, creating more than 4600 jobs.  

“The new code and regulations can only enhance the industry - ensuring the safety of workers and the highest safety standards.’’

Electrical Safety Commissioner Greg Skyring said health and safety was the key priority for the electrical industry.

“The new code of practice and regulations will provide guidance and clarity for solar farm developers, owner and contractors when it comes to their electrical safety duties,” Mr Skyring said.

Master Electricians Chief Executive Officer Malcom Richards also welcomed the changes.

“The new Solar Farm Code of Practice and regulations ensure Queensland keeps pace with the fast-moving renewable energy industry. We welcome these changes which will ensure safety for workers, consumers and the energy industry,” Mr Richards said.

National Electrical and Communications Association Executive Director Peter Lamont said the changes would make the solar industry safer.

“The mounting, locating, fixing, earthing and removing of solar panels at solar farms is dangerous work and it should not be undertaken by unlicensed workers. We fully support the new changes,” Mr Lamont said.

More details about the new code of practice and electrical safety regulations is available by visiting electricalsafety.qld.gov.au.

Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations
The Honourable Grace Grace

 
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