About Eric Skoog

Eric Skoog is president of SUNVEK, an Arizona-based company specializing in commercial roofing, maintenance and repairs.

Keep Guidelines Up to Date and Make Safety Part of Your Company Culture

Safety is a consideration in any type of work, whether in the office, a warehouse or outside. There are many concerns, including personal well-being, liability, regulation, public relations and cost-benefit analysis to keep in mind.

There is nothing more important than safety. Every employee wants to go home at the end of the day uninjured. Injuries inhibit the ability to perform work effectively, affecting both the employer and employee. Fatalities have a permanent impact.

Roofing is a category of special concern, due to height and fall injury potential for both sales and production personnel. There are two primary areas of concern: ladder safety and fall hazards. According to a study by the Center for Construction Research and Training titled “Fatal Falls From Roofs Among U.S. Construction Workers,” fatal falls from roofs accounted for one-third of all fall-related construction fatalities during the time period 1992-2009. In its findings, the study found that employers with 10 or fewer employees had a disproportionate number of fatal falls, and that Hispanic workers were a disproportionate number of those fatalities. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show that roofing workers are three times more likely to be fatally injured as a result of a fall than other construction industry employees.

In an effort to minimize the potential for injury or fatality, the government has instituted various regulations, which are enforced primarily by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Mandatory roof safety guidelines are an effort to steer the industry towards safer roofing practices.

Implementing Safety Practices That Align With Company Culture

The key components to have in mind are establishing guidelines, training, availability of effective safety equipment, and implementation of procedures that result in a safer work environment. The government, particularly OSHA, has developed guidelines intended to create a safer work environment. Training programs are readily available which interpret the OSHA standards and show how they can be practically implemented, and manufacturers have developed equipment designed to improve worker safety, including new types of ladders, safety harnesses, warning barriers, etc.

None of the above is likely to improve roof safety without a willingness on the part of the employer to mandate utilization of safe roofing practices and incorporate into daily operations a culture of safety.

Proper Safety Training Must Be Practiced Consistently

Employees need to be trained how to safely do their work, they must be provided the tools and equipment which enable them to work safely, and they must be encouraged to implement safe working practices to minimize the chance for injury. With proper training and availability of the proper tools and equipment, safe operations become a matter of “common sense.” Educated workers realize the value of the implementation of safe roofing practices and hence are more likely to incorporate them in their daily work.

Keep Safety Eco-Friendly

Safety is not only a physical issue, it is also an economic issue. As an incentive to incorporate safe practices in daily operations, many workers’ compensation providers offer financial incentives in the form of lower rates, rebates and dividends for lower claims history. This adds to profitability. Realizing the economic benefits of decreased liability exposure due to safe operating practices, many insurance providers offer training programs for free to their policyholders. Costs of development have been paid by the insurer, yet the policyholder benefits in the form of structured training being made available to employees at little or no direct cost. This can be a win-win solution to the question of how to develop and implement an effective safety-training program. Even more beneficial, the programs have been developed by experts in the area of risk mitigation, who have an incentive to find cost-effective means to practically incorporate safe practices into the daily roofing operations environment.

Safety Influences Profitability and Success

Employers who orient their company toward safe roofing practices seem more likely to profitably grow their business. Yes, there is a cost to train employees and implement safe roofing practices, but this is more than offset by the additional benefits to be gained by having available a properly trained workforce with a culture for safety. The availability of well-trained employees enables work to progress effectively, providing greater likelihood of profits. Safe and uninjured employees are less likely to pose a legal risk. Lower claims result in lower insurance costs, which directly affects the bottom line.

Keeping safety guidelines up to date is essential. Employee safety must be an integral part of the company culture. Gathering safety updates via e-mail from government websites allow companies to structure employee training programs and updates to the internal safety procedures. This will enable a company to effectively manage in-house safety programs. When companies have an excellent safety record, there are multiple benefits. A company’s e-mod will continue to move downwards, thereby reducing workers’ compensation costs while helping to ensure employees are able to return home safely each night to be with their families.

Retain Loyal Customers

Customers tend to notice poor safety practices implemented by the employees of their roofer. Along with liability risk, this creates a public relations issue. Not addressing customer concerns can result in loss of customers. Why would a customer continue to contract with a company that obviously disregards the safety of its employees? In the current culture, with its emphasis on the individual, safety is an important area of consideration for any employer wishing to profitably expand.