The extra weight of a PV system can cause unanticipated or early structural failure, particularly if it was not properly engineered. Be alert for this possibility, and consider these questions during your size-up to help assess structural integrity:
- Are you dealing with lightweight construction and engineered truss systems?
- Has the roof been compromised by additional loads, such as snow, rooftop vents and/or HVAC?
- How long has the roof or other structural members been exposed to heat and flame?
Establish a collapse zone around the perimeter that is 1.5 times the height of the structure. Crews should be positioned beyond this collapse zone or at the corners of the structure. Anyone who is inside or on the roof should have an escape route that maintains at least 3 feet of distance from all PV components.
Whenever possible, stay outside the collapse zone to avoid the risks of structural failure and falling panels.