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Safety Requirements for Solar: Ensure Compliance and Protect Workers

08 July, 2024

A worker stands between solar panels at a solar field.


Solar installations are becoming common as renewable energy sources gain traction worldwide. However, like any electrical system, solar installations present various hazards that must be communicated effectively to ensure the safety of workers and the public. This article outlines the key safety labeling requirements for solar installations, focusing on electrical hazards, arc flash, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other hazard communication standards. 

National Electrical Code (NEC) 690 Labeling Requirements 

The National Electrical Code (NEC) Section 690 outlines specific labeling requirements for photovoltaic (PV) systems to ensure safety and compliance. These requirements were updated in 2020.  

5.1 Label Visibility 

Visibility After Installation: Labels or markings must remain visible after installation, ensuring they can be easily read during maintenance or emergencies. 

Lettering Specifications: All letters should be capitalized and at least 9.5 mm (3/8 in.) in height to ensure readability. 

Color Scheme: The standard color scheme for labels is white letters on a red background, making them easily distinguishable. 

5.2 Placement 

Section Separation: Labels should be placed on every section of the wiring system separated by enclosures, walls, partitions, ceilings, or floors. This ensures that each part of the system is clearly identified, regardless of its location within the structure. 

Shutdown Devices: Clear labeling of shutdown devices and the steps required to deactivate the system is crucial. Labels should detail the specific actions needed to safely shut down the PV system, which is essential during emergencies. 

Standard Safety Labels 

In addition to the specific requirements for PV installations, there are several other standards that impact necessary warning signs and labels. 

  1. Electrical Hazard Labels

Electrical hazards in solar installations primarily arise from high voltage and current levels, which can pose serious risks such as electric shock and electrocution. Proper labeling is crucial to warn personnel of these dangers. Key requirements include: 

Voltage Rating Labels: Labels must indicate the nominal voltage of the solar installation. These should be placed at the main service disconnect, junction boxes, combiner boxes, and inverters. 

Warning Signs: Labels with warnings such as "DANGER: HIGH VOLTAGE" should be clearly visible at all points where electrical equipment is present. These labels should comply with ANSI Z535.4 standards, which dictate the color, size, and wording of hazard labels. 

Disconnect Labels: All disconnect points should be clearly labeled. For example, labels should read "SOLAR PV SYSTEM DISCONNECT" to indicate the specific switch that isolates the solar installation from the rest of the electrical system. 

  1. Arc Flash Hazard Labels

DN-DuraLabel-Labels_for_Solar_industry-FloatArc flash incidents can cause severe injuries and damage. Proper labeling helps mitigate these risks by informing workers of potential arc flash hazards and the necessary precautions. 

Arc Flash Warning Labels: According to NFPA 70E standards, labels must be placed on electrical equipment likely to require maintenance while energized. These labels should indicate: 

  • Incident energy levels (cal/cm²) 
  • Required PPE categories 
  • Approach boundaries 
  • The nominal system voltage 

Date of Analysis: The labels should also include the date of the last arc flash hazard analysis to ensure the information is up to date. 

  1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Labels

PPE is essential for protecting workers from the dangers of electrical and arc flash hazards. Labels should communicate the necessary PPE to be worn in specific areas or when performing certain tasks. 

PPE Requirement Labels: These should be posted at the entrance to electrical rooms or near equipment, specifying the minimum PPE required, such as gloves, face shields, and arc-rated clothing. 

ANSI Z535.2 Compliance: PPE labels must follow the ANSI Z535.2 standard for safety signs and labels, ensuring they are easy to read and understand. 

  1. Other Hazard Communication Standards

In addition to electrical and arc flash hazards, solar installations may pose other risks that need clear communication. 

Chemical Hazard Labels: If the installation involves batteries, labels must indicate the presence of hazardous chemicals such as sulfuric acid (in lead-acid batteries) or lithium compounds. These labels should comply with OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and include information on handling, storage, and emergency procedures. 

System Component Labels: All major components of the solar installation, including panels, inverters, and charge controllers, should be labeled with their specifications and ratings. 

DuraLabel Solar Solutions 

Proper safety labeling is a critical aspect of solar installation safety, helping to prevent accidents and injuries by clearly communicating potential hazards. By adhering to established standards such as ANSI Z535, NFPA 70E, OSHA’s HCS, and NEC 690, solar installers and operators can ensure their systems are safe for everyone involved. Regular reviews and updates of safety labels are essential to maintain compliance and protect workers as installations and technologies evolve. 

DuraLabel offers solutions to address these needs. The DuraLabel Toro Max Solar Panel Kit and DuraLabel Bronco Max Solar Panel Kit use materials designed to withstand environmental factors like UV radiation that ensures labels last longer. 

Both the Toro Max and Bronco Max are powered by LabelForge Pro, the most advanced industrial labeling software available to the safety industry today. LabelForge PRO includes thousands of preloaded, ready-to-print OSHA/ANSI/ASME/GHS/HMIS labels covering all your compliance, safety, and efficiency needs. LabelForge Pro supports 14 languages making localization a snap.    
DuraLabel’s extended-life vinyl tapes and detailed labeling guides help installers adhere to NEC requirements and maintain clarity and safety in solar installations. For advice and solutions, contact DuraLabel’s experts at 1-888-965-3359. 

UL 969 Compliant Poly Tape 

DuraLabel UL 969 Compliant Poly Tape is one of the most reliable labeling supplies available for manufacturing. These poly labels are ideal where UL 969-approved labels are called for, such as label name and rating plates, instruction labels, and more. UL 969-compliant poly tapes are protected by a glossy and durable topcoat that resists water, UV light, and mild solvents. A strong, industrial adhesive provides the necessary long-term adhesion to many common surfaces, and numerous colors are available for convenient color coding and organization. 

Engineer Grade Reflective Tape 

DuraLabel Engineer Grade Reflective Tape is perfect for areas requiring increased visibility. The tape is a cost-effective staple around machinery, pathways, non-critical traffic signage, and general outdoor applications for conduit and rapid shutdown labels. This tape comes in a variety of colors for easy organization and color coding. 

Premium Vinyl Tape 

PV systems call for high quality labels and DuraLabel Premium Vinyl Tape fits the bill. Custom order colors available and works on surfaces up to 200°F, this tape is resistant to water, UV light, and most chemicals. The tough yet flexible construction of DuraLabel Premium Vinyl makes it the standard supply for all DuraLabel thermal transfer printers. Industrial-grade material provides outstanding durability, flexibility, and printability in a wide range of label and sign applications. Acrylic adhesive and polished face provide lasting performance. 

Get the Guide 

To help navigate the NEC's latest labeling requirements, DuraLabel developed a comprehensive Solar Labeling Guide that will help you understand the labels your installation will need. 

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