A California solar panel installation company has been fined $193,905 by the state’s workplace safety watchdog agency, after one of its employees was seriously injured in a fall. Cal/OSHA cited Anaheim-based Nexus Energy Systems, Inc. for failing to provide required fall protection for its workers.

Broken bones

The incident that brought Cal/OSHA investigators to the company’s worksite occurred on December 6, when a worker installing solar panels on the roof of an Oakland residence lost his footing and fell 15 feet onto the concrete driveway, suffering a broken wrist and jaw. Neither he nor the other two men he was working with were wearing fall protection.

Cal/OSHA Deputy Chief of Enforcement Debra Lee said the outcome could have been worse. “Falls from roofs are often deadly, and that is why employers must protect their employees from fall hazards and provide effective training."

Multiple violations

The agency cited Nexus Energy Systems for five violations, three of which were related to the December accident. The violations include:

  • A willful serious accident-related violation as the employer failed to provide fall protection.
  • Two serious violations for the employer’s failure to provide training and ensure compliance with fall protection measures.
  • Two general violations for the employer’s failure to implement an effective heat illness protection plan and an injury and illness prevention program that identifies and corrects hazards specific to the worksite.

Previous incident comes to light

Cal/OSHA also cited the employer for two additional violations stemming from an incident that investigators learned had taken place the previous September, when a worker suffered electrical burns while connecting solar panels to an energized breaker box. Cal/OSHA noted one serious continuing violation for failing to provide insulated gloves or tools while working on energized equipment, and a general violation for the employer’s failure to investigate the industrial accident and take measures to correct safety hazards.