Doekle Terpstra, chairman of Techniek Nederland, the organisation of technical installation companies, is shocked by the many safety violations in the construction industry. “It is completely unacceptable and I am really shocked by this irresponsible behaviour.” The labour inspectorate recently shut down work immediately at 18 construction sites in Brabant. Solar panel fitters and roofers were particularly at fault.
The inspectorate held a nationwide inspection two weeks ago. Employees of the labour inspection looked at 200 construction sites throughout the Netherlands to see if builders were following the rules. According to the service, 140 places, including Best, den Bosch, Eindhoven, and Steenbergen were unsafe and in workers were in danger of falling. Scaffolding, fencing or railings were missing.
At eighteen sites in Brabant, the situation was so dangerous that inspectors halted work immediately. Builders in these places were not allowed to return to work until the situation visibly improved and the labour inspection approved it. Ten fines of several thousand euros were issued.
“In a number of cases we saw installers using only a ladder to walk up with solar panels under their arms. That is really playing with your life,” said a spokesman for the Dutch Labour Inspectorate. Terpstra of Techniek Nederland concurs. “It is reckless behaviour. It’s good that the labour inspection monitors this.”
The labour inspection already warned in January about accidents happening during the installation of solar panels. In three years, more than 40 accidents were reported nationwide, in which five people died.
Investigations by the labour inspectorate show that “far too often work is not done in accordance with safety regulations, or not done adequately.” It points to a safety catalogue drawn up in the solar panel industry. Those who comply with these rules, according to the service, are 100 times less likely to have an accident.
According to Terpstra of Techniek Nederland, the large number of accidents has to do with the explosive growth of the industry. In Brabant alone, there are nearly 1,000 companies involved in the installation of solar panels. (Figures KVK)
“We see that many cowboys in this sector don’t follow the rules very closely. The consumers are also hiring these entrepreneurs,” Terpstra said. According to him, people should only use licensed companies. Terpstra advocates a mandatory recognition scheme for solar panel installers.
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta. She also gives online INBURGERING classes.