Keys to an Effective Accident Investigation

The nature of a workplace accident will determine the extent of the investigation, the resources that will be needed, what types of investigative processes will be required and who will need to be interviewed. The following basic steps should be taken to complete a formal investigation:

  • Gather information
  • Interview witnesses
  • Review existing documentation
  • Organize and analyze the facts
  • Develop the sequence of events
  • Determine and report the cause(s)
  • Make recommendations
  • Implement solution(s)
  • Write the report

Gather Information

Your primary goal in this step is to gather accident information that can give critical clues into the causes of the accident. To achieve this goal, you must first secure the accident scene. An accident scene can be secured with cones, caution tape, or by locking a door or stationing a person to watch the scene. Once the accident scene is secure, you can collect information by photographing or sketching the scene; recording video; or reviewing recorded information, such as security videos.

Interview Witnesses

Witnesses are the best resource for gaining an understanding of how the accident occurred and the conditions that led to the accident. Witnesses include people who saw the accident, the injured person(s) and others who may have contributed to the accident. This can include supervisors and trainers, maintenance personnel and anyone else tied to the investigation.

When interviewing these people, it is important to remember emotions can run high in the wake of an accident, especially a catastrophic one. Try to put the witnesses at ease by:

  • Explaining your purpose and role.
  • Sincerely expressing concern regarding the accident and desire to prevent a similar occurrence.
  • Listening with a calm, attentive and unhurried demeanor.
  • Keeping an open mind.

Review Existing Documentation

When searching for information, investigations should not stop at the scene of the accident, physical evidence or the individuals involved. Documents related to the incident can provide insight into the causes of an accident, especially root causes. Some examples of useful documents are:

  • Technical data sheets
  • Health and Safety Committee minutes (in situations where a Safety Committee exists)
  • Inspection reports
  • Company policies/procedures
  • Maintenance reports
  • Injury and illness logs
  • Past accident reports
  • Job-hazard analyses and safe-work procedures
  • Training records and reports
  • Work schedules
  • Other documents that may substantiate safety-related systems in the area of the accident

Organize and Analyze the Facts

When all the evidence is collected and interviews are complete, a timeline of the accident should emerge. Each event on the timeline describes an actor and action. The actor effects change through action or inaction. Actors do not have to be employees; equipment or processes can impact the system to precipitate an accident.

It may take a great deal of time to determine any weaknesses in management systems or other root causes that contributed to the conditions and practices associated with the accident. [Read more…]

A Homeland Security Program Minimizes Administrative Headaches

Lines & Lundgreen Roofing and Insulation Inc. is a small family-owned business that was started in 1947. We have grown to be the largest roofing company in Yuma, Ariz. Jonathan Lines, the general manager, is the third-generation Lines to guide this company. He is taking the reins from his father, John Lines, and uncle, Steve Lundgreen, the current owners.

Unfortunately, we all know there is a lot of turnover in construction. Having to worry about eligibility for employment is a distraction from what we do. We have an office staff of two people. How do you train two people to become experts in all the different areas a businessperson needs to be aware of nowadays? It is just impossible.

A few years ago there was an article in the local newspaper about a raid on a local business. The purpose of the raid was to check for illegal workers. The article stated there were a number of illegals working at this site, and the business would receive fines above $10,000. I didn’t want to worry about this, but we were not experts on the different documents that could be used to prove eligibility and didn’t know how to look for illegal documents. I did not want to become an expert either. I thought I was doing what was needed.

A day or two after the article appeared, one of the owners was talking to a group of employees and said we would have to check all employees for document accuracy. He was joking, but we lost a surprising number of employees that morning. They just disappeared, and we all knew why. I knew that whatever we were doing was not working. Then we were audited by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I was more than a little uneasy as they presented their badges and realized why they were in our office.

Our audit turned out to be a positive experience. ICE agents went through each of our I-9 forms. Then they held a meeting with us. They could see we had been making an honest attempt to use appropriate hiring processes. They helped us clear up the things we were doing wrong and encouraged us to take advantage of the best employment practices available to us on the Internet.

We were using E-Verify already; E-Verify is a free Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S. We now use E-Verify for I-9 documentation, socialsecurity.gov for Social Security number verification and Arizona’s New Reporting Center to withhold child support. We are in compliance and ICE does the verification. I no longer worry about these issues, which is one less headache for me.

The IMAGE Program

Lines and Lundgreen Roofing and Insulation Inc. was the second Yuma, Ariz., employer to partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in a nationwide program designed to strengthen hiring practices and combat the unlawful employment of unauthorized workers. Lines and Lundgreen Roofing and Insulation was certified as an ICE Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employers (IMAGE) partner.

Lines and Lundgreen is a roofing, insulation and acoustical ceiling installation firm with 46 employees serving Yuma County and the Imperial Valley. The company’s projects range from residential roof repairs to large commercial and government contracts, such as the F-35 simulator building at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

As part of the IMAGE program, ICE provides private companies with education and training on proper hiring procedures, including the use of employment screening tools, such as E-Verify. IMAGE-certified companies also undergo an audit of their I-9 forms to ensure current employees are eligible to work in the U.S.

Employers interested in learning more about IMAGE membership should visit its web page.

The Great Melt of 2014 Means Buildings Are in Need of Repairs

Thank goodness it’s spring! The entire country battled a tough winter, so I’m sure you’re all breathing the same sigh of relief I am. Although the end of winter was a great thing, here in Chicago it caused what I like to call the “Great Melt of 2014”. For me, the snow, ice and extreme cold were bad; the resulting Great Melt of 2014 was much worse.

A little background: In 2007, I bought a second-floor two-bedroom condo on Chicago’s northwest side. The three-floor, 15-unit building had recently been gut rehabbed and I was among the first owners. For seven years, my neighbors and I have dealt with numerous construction defects; the board even passed a special assessment soon after we all moved in to deal with masonry issues. I still believe the developer is laughing on a beach somewhere with my money and I’d love to sue my inspector, but those are stories for another day.

When the Great Melt of 2014 began, as you can imagine, new problem areas arose. I couldn’t catch all the water pouring into my unit—through the back door’s frame, around a ceiling HVAC vent, through the HVAC ductwork in the utility closet and even through the microwave. Yes, you read that right. Through the microwave. The management company brought a contractor out who claimed water pouring through a duct is just condensation. Really? Even if it was condensation—which I vehemently disagreed with—who considers it OK for water to pour into their home?

After some aggressive emails and phone calls from yours truly, the management company sent another contractor to the building who diagnosed problems with the masonry (again), inappropriate mortar used on the steps leading out of our back doors onto the typical Chicago-style wraparound porch, poor incorporation of our outside-facing doors with the masonry, bad caulking around my exhaust vent (the kitchen exhaust fan is integrated with my microwave above the stove), gutter and downspout problems, and ice dams.

The point of writing about my experience—other than the therapeutic process of writing about nerve-racking problems—is condo boards and management companies could use construction partners who provide regular maintenance, make them aware of issues spotted during maintenance visits and ultimately minimize unit owners’ stress. In “Business Sense”, page 23, Scott Otey, vice president and managing partner of West Coast Florida Enterprises Inc., Naples and Fort Myers, writes about how his business has partnered with condo associations and management companies and has even joined the Falls Church, Va.-based Community Associations Institute.

The partnership not only helps the condo residents, but also keeps Otey’s team busy. I’m sure you’ll glean some ideas from him about how to network with these groups and make yourself invaluable to them.

Despite the ongoing issues with my building, I have many friends who live in multifamily buildings in Chicago that also experienced leaks during the Great Melt of 2014. Feel free to use our experiences to prove how indispensable partnerships between contractors and condo associations/management companies can be.

If you enjoy reading the magazine, please consider submitting something for the next one. Let’s talk about ideas! Call me at (630) 308-4602; email me; post a comment below; and/or Facebook and tweet us. This magazine—and your peers—are counting on you!

From Green to Blue: Making Roof Systems Sustainable in Urban Environments

Municipal storm-water managers historically have focused on controlling runoff from ground-level impervious surfaces, such as roadways, sidewalks and parking areas. However, the next frontier in storm-water management is rooftops. In urban storm-water management, roofs are part of the problem and potential solution. An exciting new technology to control rooftop runoff is known as blue roofs. Over the next several years, New York City alone will spend several billion dollars on green infrastructure solutions to address its storm-water-control problem, and blue roofs will be a key part of these efforts.

Blue-roof trays are held in place with stone ballast and hold up to 2 inches of water. The tray systems resulted in a 45 percent reduction in roof runoff during rainfall events in a New York pilot project.

Blue-roof trays are held in place with stone ballast and hold up to 2 inches of water. The tray systems resulted in a 45 percent reduction in roof runoff during rainfall events in a New York pilot project.

Blue Roofs

The roofing industry has become very familiar with the use of vegetated, or green, roofs. The vegetative layer grown on a rooftop provides shade and removes heat from the air through evapotranspiration, ultimately reducing temperatures of the roof surface and the surrounding air. By reducing the heat-island effect, these buildings require less energy to cool in the summer and use fewer natural resources (oil or other fuel) in the process.

However, an even newer and less-well-known sustainable technology applicable to roofs is the blue roof. A blue roof temporarily stores rainwater in any of a number of types of detention systems on the roof. They are most applicable and provide the most benefit in highly urbanized cities that are serviced by combined sewers. Combined sewers handle sewage and rainwater runoff from roofs, streets and other impervious surfaces. On dry days, these combined sewers can easily handle the amount of sewage flowing through them to the local treatment plant. However, on days with heavy rain, these combined systems can easily overflow with rainwater and raw, untreated sewage. This combined sewer overflow, or CSO, can flow into local sensitive receptors, like streams, ponds and oceans, contaminating the natural resources and killing fish and other wildlife dependent on them.

The beauty of blue roofs is they can store much of this rainwater during and immediately after a rainstorm, temporarily preventing it from reaching the sewer system. In this way, CSOs are minimized and local natural resources are protected. When the storm is over and the sewer system has the capacity to handle it, the blue-roof retention materials are designed to slowly release the stored rainwater back into the storm-drain system.

This blue roof in New York uses a check dam to retain storm water.

This blue roof in New York uses a check dam to retain storm water.

NYC Pilot Program

Our firm, Geosyntec Consultants, along with environmental engineers Hazen and Sawyer and HydroQual and water-management firm Biohabitats, designed and implemented a groundbreaking blue-roof system in New York. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) retained the team to implement a sustainable green infrastructure retrofit pilot program to demonstrate how rooftops can reduce the frequency and volume of CSOs in the city. The objective was to design and install storm-water controls to quantify the benefits of sustainable approaches as a viable solution to reduce storm-water flows to the city’s CSO system. Rainfall of less than 1/2 inch can overload the system and result in untreated discharges. The use of sustainable green infrastructure, like blue roofs, to reduce storm-water inputs to the combined system is one of many approaches New York City is considering to help solve this problem.

Geosyntec’s role on the team was to design several storm-water pilot studies, including blue roofs. Our blue-roof designs included installing risers on rooftop outlets that would result in ponding of water around the outlets, small dams on the roof surface using check dams of angle-iron to create ponding and the most successful technique—blue-roof trays. We developed specially designed trays, held in-place with stone ballast, to hold up to 2 inches of water. The tray systems resulted in a 45 percent reduction in roof runoff during rainfall events. If blue-roof trays were installed on all roofs in an entire drainage area to a CSO, the results would be significant in solving the CSO problem. In addition, trays are more practical because they can be spaced around existing equipment on roofs and moved during repairs and maintenance of other rooftop systems.

Geosyntec Consultants designed a blue roof that included installing risers on rooftop outlets that would result in ponding of water around the outlets.

Geosyntec Consultants designed a blue roof
that included installing risers on rooftop outlets that would result in ponding of water around the outlets.

Roof-system Protection

Protecting the integrity of a roof membrane is an important consideration for roofing and building contractors that are considering installing a blue roof. Blue-roof-tray systems offer the best protection because they rest on top of existing membranes and ballast systems and do not result in any membrane perforations that require additional waterproofing. Other blue-roof systems, like check dams or new drain inserts, may require additional waterproofing. The bottom line is if the roof membrane is old, compromised or currently leaking, any type of blue roof would be problematic until a new membrane is installed.

In addition, during the pilot projects, we took great care to inspect and test the roofs for load-bearing support—a step that should be conducted for all blue and green roof systems.

As we look to the future, roofs in urban areas will most definitely become a major part of the storm-water solution, and blue-roof technologies will evolve to become a common practice.

Learn More

NYCDEP has posted information about blue roofs and other urban green infrastructure for CSO control on its website.
The U.S. Green Building Council offers an online course about blue roofs for storm-water management.

PHOTOS: Geosyntec Consultants

Seal of Approval: How to Make the Most of Asphalt-shingle Sealants

Extreme weather events, such as the wide temperature swings during the recent winter and hurricanes that afflict coastal regions, have increased consumer demand for reliable and high-performance roofs. Asphalt-shingle roofs have been proven to provide the protection homeowners need, thanks to the material’s durability and longevity.

Many asphalt shingles rely on built-in sealants to provide a solid installation. This sealant material is an asphalt-based, heat-activated, viscous bonding material, which retains adhesion in difficult weather conditions, after the initial bonding of the shingles has occurred. The sealant will fuse the asphalt shingles together when each course is properly attached to the roof deck and previous courses.

IMAGE: Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association

Click to view a larger version of this image. IMAGE: Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association

The bonding sealant is factory-applied on the front or back side of the shingle, depending on the manufacturer’s design. Heat from the sun activates and softens the sealant, initiating the bonding process. After the bonding of the shingle sealant, the shingles provide a home with superior wind-resistance.

If not installed correctly, the sealant will not be able to do its job, which could result in shingle blow-offs and other performance issues. For the roofer, shingles that are not properly installed and allowed to bond could mean an unwanted call back to the job site. The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) recommends contractors follow these essential steps to ensure asphalt shingles are installed properly the first time and that sealant adhesion is not impeded:

Scheduling: If an asphalt-shingle installation takes place in cold or windy weather, it could impact the ability of the sealant to cure. The sealant cannot bond in cold weather, and the wind could shift the shingles and break the bond before it has a chance to complete the process. Follow manufacturer instructions for cold-weather installation or plan for projects when weather conditions are more suitable.

Roof Deck: Making sure the substrate and roof deck are not damaged or deteriorated is key to maximizing the potential of the asphalt-shingle sealant. If these elements are overlooked, the shingles will not have a solid base for fastener attachment, and the sealant between the shingles could be less effective.

Underlayment: Proper installation of an approved underlayment will provide the appropriate surface for shingle installation and will help manage water. Ice-barrier underlayment materials, compliant with ASTM D 1970, are recommended for use in northern climates where accumulation of snow or ice on the roof is likely. The ice shield provides extra protection from the potential for water damage; this is especially important on reroofs of older homes where the placement or quantity of attic insulation allows heat to flow to the roof.

Accessories: Roofing accessories, such as flashings at penetrations, valleys and changes in direction of the roof, are essential to making sure the sealant can do its job. Roofers should select approved accessories, whether they are drip edges, ridge vents or other architectural details.

Nailing: The actual attachment of the asphalt shingles is where a roofer has the most control over the installation process. It is important to make sure shingles are attached to the deck with the proper type, size and quantity of nails, as well as in the precise location required. Make sure the nails are in the right place by driving them in the indicated “nailing zone.” Always ensure nails used in laminated shingles are driven through the double-thickness overlap area.

Selecting a shingle that meets or exceeds wind-speed requirements in local building codes will help a roof covering withstand windstorms and protect a home. Further, roofers should always follow all building codes and manufacturer installation requirements for shingle applications.

Asphalt shingles are manufactured to provide homeowners with beautiful, affordable and reliable protection for their homes. It is up to the installer to ensure the sealants can do their job by making sure other facets of the proper installation process are followed.

Professional Roofing Contractors Donates a New Roof and So Much More

Matt Brinck (left) and Jonathan Price plan Professional Roofing Contractors’ Facebook roof giveaway with Dawn Holley of United Way of Bedford County. The giveaway would not only provide a free roof to a family in need, but also would contribute funds to United Way of Bedford County for every Facebook “like” on Professional Roofing Contractors’ page during the promotion.

Matt Brinck (left) and Jonathan Price plan Professional Roofing Contractors’ Facebook roof giveaway with Dawn Holley of United Way of Bedford County. The giveaway would not only provide a free roof to a family in need, but also would contribute funds to United Way of Bedford County for every Facebook “like” on Professional Roofing Contractors’ page during the promotion.

Everyone should have the charitable spirit of Jonathan Price, vice president of Professional Roofing Contractors, Shelbyville, Tenn. Price prides himself in giving back to the community he grew up in and that supports his business. His roofing contracting company, which was established in 1996 and has a 70 percent commercial focus, has donated roofs to charitable entities like Habitat for Humanity, and Price is a member of the local Rotary Club and United Way of Bedford County’s board of directors.

Shelbyville is not a large town—20,105 residents per the 2010 census—and Price, who manages the contracting company’s marketing, found Facebook easily facilitates conversation between Professional Roofing Contractors and the community. “I hear daily from people in the community who say it was awesome that we did this or that,” Price says. “They’re picking up our activities from Facebook.”

In 2013, Price decided to take the lead on a charitable roofing giveaway that he would run through Facebook. “We basically asked for a photo of the existing roof and a 100- to 200-word explanation about what was going on, why they needed a roof and why they should win,” Price recalls. He enlisted United Way of Bedford County to help with promoting the giveaway and offered the organization $5 for each Facebook “like” Professional Roofing Contractors received during the promotion.

John Morris (left), the local rep for Atlas Roofing, and Matt Brinck, residential sales for Professional Roofing Contractors, congratulate Jo Gentle, winner of Professional Roofing Contractors’ roof giveaway. Based on the success of the contest, Professional Roofing Contractors plans to make the roof giveaway an annual event.

John Morris (left), the local rep for Atlas Roofing, and Matt Brinck, residential sales for Professional Roofing Contractors, congratulate Jo Gentle, winner of Professional Roofing Contractors’ roof giveaway. Based on the success of the contest, Professional Roofing Contractors plans to make the roof giveaway an annual event.

“We were excited about the opportunity,” says Dawn Holley, United Way of Bedford County’s executive director. “Not only would there be a family that truly needed but couldn’t afford a new roof, but contributions from the ‘likes’ would come back to United Way to be divvied out among 20 agencies that provide valuable services throughout the area.”

In addition to promoting the giveaway on Facebook and their websites, Price and Holley recorded commercials for a local radio station; the station’s hosts also talked about the giveaway on air. Holley promoted the giveaway to United Way of Bedford County’s 20 partner agencies, and the local newspaper wrote several articles about the giveaway before and after the winner was chosen.

During the month-and-a-half-long promotion, Professional Roofing Contractors received 20 entries on its Facebook page. Price chose a panel of judges—Holley; Laurrie Batey, Professional Roofing Contractors’ accountant; and John Morris, the local Atlas Roofing rep—to narrow the entries to three finalists. “We kept narrowing them down; it was a challenge because we could see the need in every one of the entries,” Holley notes.

Dawn Holley, executive director of United Way of Bedford County, receives a check for $500 from Larry Price (middle), president, and Jonathan Price, vice president of Professional Roofing Contractors, Shelbyville, Tenn. The roofing contracting company donated $5 to United Way of Bedford County for each “like” added to its Facebook page while collecting entries for a charitable roof giveaway.

Dawn Holley, executive director of United Way of Bedford County, receives a check for $500 from Larry Price (middle), president, and Jonathan Price, vice president, of Professional Roofing Contractors. The roofing contracting company donated $5 to United Way of Bedford County for each “like” added to its Facebook page while collecting entries for a charitable roof giveaway.

“After the three finalists were chosen, we opened the contest up to a vote on Facebook,” Price says. “To vote, visitors had to ‘like’ our page. Then we counted up the votes.” The winner of the free roof—valued at $5,000 with materials donated by Atlas Roofing Corp., Atlanta, and labor provided by Professional Roofing Contractors—was Jo Gentle of Brownsboro, Ala. (The other two finalists also received prizes donated by the local Sears, United Grocery Outlet and Victory Nissan.)

Professional Roofing Contractors’ giveaway not only gave Gentle the roof her family’s home desperately needed, but it also provided $500 to United Way of Bedford County based on 100 likes added to the roofing contracting company’s Facebook page during the promotion. That money was distributed among United Way of Bedford County’s 20 partner agencies.

“When you have a small United Way like ours, partnerships like the one with Professional Roofing Contractors are vital,” Holley says. “When you give to United Way, those dollars are going to so many different organizations and touching so many lives. This promotion did so much more in our community beyond helping the family that received the roof. I just want to give a big thank you to Jonathan and Professional Roofing Contractors for including us in the promotion.”

Jo Gentle’s roof was about 20 years old and had many leaks, resulting in rotten decking. In her Facebook entry, Gentle uploaded a photo of a giant hole in her ceiling’s sheetrock, with which Professional Roofing Contractors’ Facebook followers obviously sympathized when they selected her the winner of a new roof.

Jo Gentle’s roof was about 20 years old and had many leaks, resulting in rotten decking. In her Facebook entry, Gentle uploaded a photo of a giant hole in her ceiling’s sheetrock, with which Professional Roofing Contractors’ Facebook followers obviously sympathized when they selected her the winner of a new roof.

Jo Gentle's new roof with materials donated by Atlas Roofing and labor donated by Professional Roofing Contractors.

Jo Gentle’s new roof with materials donated by Atlas Roofing and labor donated by Professional Roofing Contractors.

PHOTOS: Professional Roofing Contractors

New Year, New Magazine

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first edition of Roofing!

Although we may be new to many of you, Roofing actually is the next iteration of a successful regional roofing magazine called Carolinas Roofing. (Check out our back issues in digital format.) Since the first issue of Carolinas Roofing mailed in March 2010, we were approached several times to bring the magazine to a broader audience. Last summer, we decided to evolve Carolinas Roofing into a national publication.

The magazine’s goal, which is highlighted in our tagline, “The Industry’s Voice”, is to provide insight from your peers (roofing contractors, architects, roof consultants, building owners and facility managers). We hope as you receive and read each issue of the magazine you feel like you’re having a conversation with other members of the roofing community. We hope their voices inspire, challenge and sometimes even irritate you. With each article and shared experience, Roofing hopes to drive the roofing industry forward.

Roofing will mail bimonthly, and we plan to keep in touch with you regularly. Our dynamic website is updated daily with news and product information. We’ll be posting online exclusives, as well. If you want to be made aware of these updates, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. And of course you can follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

We know everyone is busy these days, so we’ll strive to bring you the best content in the most efficient manner. You’ll notice the magazine contains many short columns that impart knowledge quickly. For example, did you know someone can be suffering from hypothermia but be fully alert? I didn’t until I read Michael Rich’s “Safety” column. James R. Kirby shares efforts by ASTM D08.24 to develop standards specifically related to sustainable roofing in “Environmental Trends”. Craig Dallas helps you brush up on leadership skills with four great tips in “Business Sense”. And an anonymous author reminds us why safety on the job site is of utmost importance in “It Happened to Me”.

Even our feature articles are short and sweet. Get to the gist of some amazing hospitality and entertainment projects, including the 8-acre Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn. Baker Roofing’s crew was challenged by rolling hills, 30-foot parapet walls and a vegetated section. “Tech Point” explains why penetrations in the roof in the form of skylights and rooftop monitors can be beneficial to buildings. And get Solar Installer Matthew Bennett’s perspective about why roofing contractors and solar installers make good partners in “Cool Roofing”.

There’s a lot of good stuff in this issue but we couldn’t have put it together without help from roofing industry professionals. Therefore, I urge you to contact me with your stories. I know you’ve read that before and probably thought the editor doesn’t really mean it. I do! To live up to our tagline of “The Industry’s Voice”, Roofing depends on your wisdom and in-the-field experiences. If you enjoyed reading this issue, please submit something for the next one. Call me at (630) 308-4602; email me; post a comment on our website; and/or Facebook and tweet us your ideas. This magazine—and your peers—are counting on you!

Roof It Right’s Famous Roofing Dogs

Roofis was Roof It Right's original roofing dog.

Roofis was Roof It Right’s original roofing dog.

James Guindon and his husky, Roofis, moved to Las Vegas from Palm Springs, Calif., in 1994 for the construction boom. Guindon was accustomed to bringing Roofis—who actually climbed ladders to join crews on the roof—to work, but he met some resistance from Las Vegas roofing contractors when he sought a job. “Some companies wouldn’t hire me because of Roofis, saying there were insurance reasons or they can’t bring their kids to work so I should play with my dog at home,” Guindon remembers. “I finally was hired by a company that only cared that I showed up and was a good roofer, and some of their customers thought Roofis on a roof was the cutest thing they ever saw.” Those customers called the local media outlets and suddenly Roofis was famous.

In 1997, Guindon established Roof It Right, which has five human employees and focuses 70 percent of its efforts on residential projects. Naturally, Guindon made Roofis the star of the company. Roofing spoke with Guindon about Roofis (who passed away in 2006) and Roofis’ son, Bullet, who has taken over as Roof It Right’s resident roofing dog.

Roofing: How did Roofis and Bullet become comfortable with ladders and on roofs?

Guindon: Roofis would follow me around wherever I would go. When he was 4-months old, I went up on my house’s roof and he climbed up the ladder behind me.

Roof It Right's owner James Guindon, who is also an artist, includes his dogs in marketing materials, including this Christmas card.

Roof It Right’s owner James Guindon, who is also an artist, includes his dogs in marketing materials, like this Christmas card he illustrated.

I took Bullet to a job site when he was a puppy. We tried to get him to follow Roofis up the ladder but he wouldn’t do it. I kept bringing Bullet to job sites anyway. One day, I went up on a roof and I heard a dog coming up the ladder. I assumed it was Roofis but it was Bullet. Six months later, Roofis died. The day after Roofis died, Bullet filled Roofis’ “shoes”.

Roofing: How do you keep Bullet away from dangerous situations?

Guindon: I have been careful of what roofs I let him onto. If I think Bullet’s going to get hurt, I won’t let him up. We did a job on a 3-story building recently and Bullet was climbing up the 32-foot ladder to get to us. If the ladder is straight up and down, I won’t let him go up because he can fall backward.

Roofing: Do you use your dog(s) in your marketing materials?

Guindon: I’m an artist, so I created our logo with Roofis in it. The last three or four years, I’ve included Bullet on the custom Christmas cards I create and send to my clients. Both dogs are on the company website. My TV commercials include Bullet. My answering machine’s outgoing message starts out with ‘woof woof’. I’m having some fun with it.

Also, when people drive by and see a dog on the roof it’s definitely a headturner. They often stop and ask how the dog got up there. It blows their minds when they see him climb the ladder.

Bullet is Roof It Right's current roofing dog.

Bullet is Roof It Right’s current roofing dog.

Roofing: Do you get jobs specifically because of Bullet?

Guindon: I get calls from animal lovers. They don’t usually tell me they’re going to hire me right away because they’re afraid about how I might price the job. I’ve also been in business for 17 years, so I’m established around here, but I have to admit some of my business is probably because of the dogs.

Roofing: Do you plan to continue using dogs in your business?

Guindon: I got Roofis’ sperm frozen so when Bullet, who is 9 years old, goes to doggie heaven I’ll probably get one more roofing dog and after that I’m going to retire. Then I’ll have hunting dogs instead of roofing dogs.

View Bullet’s TV appearances on Roof It Right’s website.

IMAGES: Roof It Right

ASTM International and Sustainable Roofing

ASTM International is a well-known standard-writing organization for the construction industry and other industries. As the building design and construction industries have moved toward more sustainable methods and products, it follows that more standardization of sustainability is necessary. This is certainly true for the roofing and waterproofing industry. ASTM now has a group devoted to developing standards for sustainable roofing.

Organizationally, ASTM is divided into numerous committees, each having a specific focus. The ASTM D08 committee is responsible for roofing and waterproofing standards. Within the D08 committee, there are multiple subcommittees that focus on a segment of the roofing/waterproofing industry—from asphalt shingles to spray polyurethane foam to modified-bitumen membranes to single-ply membranes and more. D08.24 is the subcommittee that is developing standards specifically related to sustainable roofing.

Further division of each subcommittee into Task Groups allows narrowly focused groups to develop standards for very specific topics. There are currently four Task Groups within D08.24:

  • D08.24.01 Guidelines for Sustainable Design
  • D08.24.03 Recycling Practices and Reporting Methodology
  • D08.24.04 Durability
  • D08.24.05 Selection Criteria Vegetative Roof Membranes

Process

Standards are developed by Task Groups with active participation by attendees at the semi-annual meetings. Typically, a draft standard (called a work item until it is an approved standard) is initially sent out for ballot to the Task Group to obtain comments that will improve the draft standard. After balloting to the Task Group, the draft standard is balloted to the full D08 membership. At times, a standard is simultaneously balloted to the Task Group and the full membership. During the balloting process, comments and negative votes are reviewed and dealt with according to ASTM protocols. Standards development is a very linear process that works well to achieve a consensus in the D08 committee. Once a consensus is reached, the standard is published for use.

The background on the process is necessary to understand the activities of the D08.24 subcommittee. Because the subcommittee was only recently established, all standards are still in the development stage.

Task Group Specifics

The D08.24.01 Task Group is developing a new standard, work item WK26599, which is currently titled “New Guide for Design of Sustainable, Low-Slope Roofing Systems”. The current scope is:

  • This Standard provides guidance for designing sustainable low-sloped roofing systems, including exposed membrane roofs, membranes covered with vegetative (green) overburden systems, ballasted roofs and protected membrane roofing assemblies. A sustainable roofing system minimizes environmental impact, conserves energy, and has maximized service life.

The scope recognizes the roof’s primary function is to weatherproof the building’s top surface.

The document provides a sequential process for designing sustainable roof systems. The document does not provide a prescriptive approach, but “attempts to help the user define and consider roofing system demands and environmental life cycle impacts, and integrate these with features that contribute environmental, energy conservation, or other benefit in service” through a number of considerations, which include roofing demands, functional expectations, end-user requirements and site restraints. The document is big-picture, technology-neutral and process-based.

The D08.24.03 Task Group is developing a new standard, work item 24614, currently titled “New Guide for Recycling Practices & Reporting Methodology”. The intent of the document is to unify common practices and develop an industry-accepted reporting format for recycling common roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles. The document is in its infancy and has not been balloted to date.

The D08.24.04 task group is developing a new standard, work item 26595, currently titled “New Guide for Roof System Durability”. The task group is still evaluating the specific scope but will focus on PVC and EPDM membranes in two separate documents. The intent is to provide methodology to evaluate the variables that lead to increased durability of PVC and EPDM roof systems. Neither document has been balloted yet.

The D08.24.05 Task Group is developing a new standard, work item 29304, currently titled “New Guide for Selection of Roofing/Waterproofing Membrane Systems for Vegetative (Green) Roof Systems”. The document will provide technology-neutral considerations for selection of appropriate membranes for vegetative roofs. The Task Group is expected to begin the balloting process soon.

Liaisons

The ASTM D08.24 group works with other groups, like E60 on Sustainability and the Built Environment Advisory Committee, to ensure continuity of ideas with all ASTM committees. Specifically, E60.01 on Buildings and Construction and E60.80 on General Sustainability Standards are in the focus of the D08.24 liaison efforts.

The ASTM sustainability standards are intended to be used by the roofing, construction and design industries to formalize the efforts toward more sustainable roofs and roofing. It is hoped that other roofing groups, such as ARMA, CEIR, ERA, NRCA and SPRI, will reference ASTM’s sustainability standards in their documents.

I encourage everyone in the roofing industry to not only join ASTM, but to participate in the development of the standards our industry uses each and every day. ASTM D08.24 needs your input as the roofing industry moves further toward sustainable products and activities.

Correct Side Lap on a Slate Roof

I’ve been asked to examine slate roof installations all across the U.S., and one of the most disheartening things I’ve observed is how often incorrect side laps are used. For example, the photo shows a slate roof that was installed less than one year ago and already has more than a dozen leaks. Why? Among one of the most basic problems is the side lap.

This slate roof was installed less than one year ago and already has more than a dozen leaks. One of the most basic problems is the side lap.

This slate roof was installed less than one year ago and already has more than a dozen leaks. One of the most basic problems is the side lap. PHOTO: John Chan

The side-lap detail drawing that appears on this page is from the National Slate Association’s Slate Roofs: Design and Installation Manual, page 86, Detail 5-B. The side lap also is referred to as a side joint, vertical joint, keyway, bond line or rain course. As defined in the glossary of the NSA manual, it’s “the longitudinal joint between two slate shingles”.

Whenever one is installing a slate roof, it is absolutely imperative the side lap is a minimum of 3 inches. As seen in the detail, if the lap is less than 3 inches, water will flow in between the two slates and leak into the building. When I’m asked to inspect a problematic new slate roof, I find the side and head laps are the problems on a majority of all cases across the country.

If you’re installing a single-sized slate, such as 20 by 12 inches, the slates should be installed so the joints are exactly split in two; the side laps on the whole roof should be 6 inches. Similarly, if the roof has 10-inch-wide slate, the side laps should be 5 inches. Whatever the width, the side lap should always be one-half the width on a single-sized slate.

It gets a little trickier on a random-width slate roof. Slate widths can be as narrow as 6 inches or as wide as 20 inches or more. When dealing with 6-inch slates, the joint obviously must be split exactly in the center, so there are 3 inches on each side. If you question the width, pull out a tape measure; this will save you and the building owner lots of money and headaches. When there are inadequate side laps, inevitably, the owner, architect or general contractor gets concerned, and then I get a phone call to do a full roof survey on the slate roof.

Click to download a larger version of this side-lap detail drawing from the National Slate Association’s <em>Slate Roofs: Design and Installation Manual</em<, page 86, Detail 5-B.

Click to download a larger version of this side-lap detail drawing from the National Slate Association’s Slate
Roofs: Design and Installation Manual
, page 86, Detail 5-B.

As slaters become more advanced, they are able to eyeball 3 inches extremely well, but until that point, installers should use a tape measure, or they should stick with using single-sized slates. It might seem too easy, but this is one of the most common errors I encounter. If a slater studies Detail 5-B and adheres to it, he or she will avoid having this problem with slate roof installations.

Too often, slate is given a bad name because of poor installation. Hopefully, this article and detail will resolve that problem.