Against the Wind

The city of Moore, Okla., recognizes it cannot keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. You may recall on May 20, 2013, an EF5 tornado did extensive damage to the town. The new residential construction codes are based on research and damage evaluation by Chris Ramseyer and Lisa Holliday, civil engineers who were part of the National Science Foundation Rapid Response team that evaluated residential structural damage after the May 2013 tornado.

“A home is deconstructed by a tornado, starting with the breaching of the garage door,” Ramseyer explains. “The uplift generated by the wind causes the roof to collapse until the pressure pulls the building apart. These new residential building codes could possibly prevent that in the future.”

The new codes require roof sheathing, hurricane clips or framing anchors, continuous plywood bracing and windresistant garage doors. Moore’s new homes are required to withstand winds up to 135 mph rather than the standard 90 mph.

Although the city of Moore deserves to be commended for passing a more stringent building code less than one year after the 2013 tornado, this wasn’t the first damaging tornadic event Moore had experienced. The town also made national headlines in 1999 when it was hit by what was then considered the deadliest tornado since 1971. Moore also was damaged by tornadoes in 1998, 2003 and 2010. In my opinion, it was time for the Moore City Council to do the right thing by its citizens.

As extreme weather events occur more frequently, more emphasis is being placed on commercial roof wind resistance, as well. Robb Davis, P.E., recently attended a continuing-education conference for civil/structural engineers that discussed changes in the 2012 International Building Code and the referenced ASCE 7-10 “Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures”. During the seminar, it became clear to Davis that nobody is specifically responsible for the design of wind loading to rooftop equipment as defined in the IBC and Chapter 29 of ASCE 7-10. Therefore, Davis reached out to Roofing because he believes it’s important roofing professionals understand the code requirements for wind loading to rooftop equipment, how the load is determined and applied, and how the load is transferred to the building structure. Davis shares his insight in “Tech Point”.

As Davis points out in his article, by better understanding wind loads on rooftop equipment, roofing professionals will be even better positioned to lead the design and construction industry in creating more resilient roofs and, ultimately, strengthening the structure and protecting the people underneath.

The KEMPEROL Roofpatch Provides 50 Years of Waterproofing Technology in a Quick Kit

KEMPEROL Roofpatch is a ready-to-use patch kit from Kemper System America Inc., West Seneca, N.Y.

KEMPEROL Roofpatch is a ready-to-use patch kit from Kemper System America Inc., West Seneca, N.Y.

KEMPEROL Roofpatch is a ready-to-use patch kit from Kemper System America Inc., West Seneca, N.Y. Kemper System invented cold, liquid-applied, reinforced waterproofing technology more than 50 years ago, and the Roofpatch kit offers the company’s technology as a quick solution to reliably stop leaks and cover cracks and damaged areas.

“The product itself is a cold, liquid-applied membrane system,” says Gino Soroker, brand and business development manager for Kemper System America. “Typically our product comes as a container of liquid and a roll of fleece, and you need a contractor to put the two together. Here you get the two already married.”

The kit’s flat aluminum packaging includes rubber gloves and a reinforcement fleece pre-saturated in a single-component, solvent-free and odor-free KEMPEROL 1K-SF waterproofing resin. The reinforced membrane is pre-cut to approximately 10 by 18 inches; a single patch can handle most repairs. Patches also can be overlapped to cover larger areas.

The reinforced membrane is pre-cut to approximately 10 by 18 inches; a single patch can handle most repairs.

The reinforced membrane is pre-cut to approximately 10 by 18 inches; a single patch can handle most repairs.

The multipurpose patch adheres tightly without a primer to bitumen sheets, PVC roofing, concrete, wood and metal. The resin is rainproof in 60 minutes and can be walked on after 12 hours.

Soroker says the kit is ideal for roof consultants and roofing contractors, as well as building owners and property managers, seeking an immediate repair on a roof. “If a building superintendent or roofing contractor gets called up on the roof because a tenant reports a leak and he sees an overlap or a crack, he can rip open this aluminum pouch and slap on the roof patch right there and then,” he says. “If a specifier or consultant needs to cut open the roof to find out what’s happening beneath it,
he can put the piece he cut out back in, place this patch right over it and seal up the hole he just opened.”

The kit’s flat aluminum packaging includes rubber gloves and a reinforcement fleece pre-saturated in a single-component, solvent-free and odor-free KEMPEROL 1K-SF waterproofing resin.

The kit’s flat aluminum packaging includes rubber gloves and a reinforcement fleece pre-saturated in a single-component, solvent-free and odor-free KEMPEROL 1K-SF waterproofing resin.

Developed in Germany, the UV-stable Roofpatch was introduced in the U.S. a year and a half ago. It currently is available nationwide through select distributors of building products. It also can be purchased via Kemper System America’s online store, which can be accessed through its website.

Learn more
Visit KemperSystem.net.
Call (800) 541-5455.
Watch the Roofpatch demonstration video.

The inaugural “Roofers’ Choice” was determined by the product that received the most reader inquiries from the January/February issue’s “Materials & Gadgets” section.

PHOTOS: Kemper System America Inc.

Clues from the Universe Put Us on a Path to Career and Personal Happiness

I recently reconnected with an old friend, Michael. He and I met probably a decade ago while I was the editor of a green design and construction magazine and he held a leadership position in a sustainably focused association. I always appreciated Michael’s wisdom regarding the industry and life in general. Although he’s only a few years older than I, Michael is what I believe to be the definition of an “old soul”.

Michael and I changed jobs and at least two years had passed since we last chatted. It was social media—a LinkedIn anniversary notice about Michael’s consulting business—that reconnected us. I sent him a congratulatory message through LinkedIn, and he immediately called me. During the conversation, I learned Michael recently had been very ill. He spent weeks in the hospital, undergoing a battery of tests and worrying about his wife and children and their future. He believed his illness was a signal from the universe that he needed to make some changes in his life. When he recovered, Michael quit his job; moved his family across the country closer to their roots on the East Coast; and started his own environmental consulting firm, which has kept him busy doing what he loves. He is happier—and healthier—than he has ever been.

Michael said as he was lying in his hospital bed, he realized the universe had been sending him clues for a long time that he needed to make changes to his life, but he ignored them. “We can always talk ourselves out of something,” he told me. “There’s never enough time or money, and there are always responsibilities that seem to take precedence.” However, Michael thinks ignoring the universe and trudging forth ultimately resulted in his health issue, which was the wake-up call he needed to finally transform his life.

I’ve thought a lot about this conversation and was reminded of it again when I interviewed Bruce Diederich, president of Waukegan Roofing Co. Inc., Waukegan, Ill., for “Spotlight”. Waukegan Roofing is celebrating 100 years in business this year, an amazing feat for any company. Diederich, who has owned Waukegan Roofing for the past 16 years, started digging into the company’s past in anticipation of this year’s celebration. He discovered some astonishing coincidences in his own life and Waukegan Roofing’s history that—as Michael would say—suggest Diederich was destined to lead the company all along. I know it may sound unbelievable, but I think once you read “Spotlight” you too will find the coincidences and clues are difficult to ignore. These days, I’m making a conscious effort to recognize when the universe is telling me something. In fact, I now believe there’s a reason I spoke to these gentlemen recently.

I know it won’t always be easy to ascertain what the clues are telling me or how exactly to follow them but, based on Michael and Bruce Diederich’s experiences, I’m open to the possibilities.

Energy-efficient Cool-roof Legislation: Creating Jobs and Reducing Energy Costs

Building on two roofing trends—higher thermal performance and cooler roofs in hotter climates—that have policymakers and architects seeing eye to eye, energy-efficient cool-roof legislation offers a significant opportunity to increase building energy efficiency and create jobs. Known in the last Congress in the Senate as S. 1575, the Energy-Efficient Cool Roof Jobs Act, and in the House of Representatives as H.R. 2962, the Roofing Efficiency Jobs Act, the legislation is scheduled to be reintroduced this spring.

The intent of the legislation is to encourage improvement in the thermal performance of existing roofs and, where appropriate in the designer’s judgment, encourage the use of a white or reflective roof surface in hotter climates. This is a clear win-win for the environment and building owners in terms of reduced energy costs and reduced pollution associated with energy consumption.

energy efficiency

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SIGNIFICANT SAVINGS lie within the commercial roofing sector, where more than 50 billion square feet of flat roofs are currently available for retrofit, 4 billion of which are typically retrofitted each year. The legislation would provide a 20-year depreciation period (instead of the current 39 years) for commercial roofs that meet minimum R-values that are significantly higher (requiring more insulation) than those required under state and local building codes and that have a white or other highly reflective surface. This change would correct an inequity in the current depreciation system (the average life span of a low-slope roof is only 17 years). By providing this incentive, the federal government would allow building owners and architects to decide whether the combination of thermal insulation and reflective roofs are appropriate for a given climate.

The required R-values under the proposed legislation are identical to the prescriptive requirements found under ASHRAE 189.1-2011, “Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings”. This legislation would be limited to retrofits of existing low-slope roofs and would not be available to new buildings. The cool roof requirement would only apply to buildings in ASHRAE Climate Zones 1 through 5, which covers approximately the area of the country from Chicago and Boston south. Roofs may qualify for the depreciation in zones 6, 7 and 8 but would not need a cool surface. View a map of the ASHRAE Climate Zones.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Annual Energy Review, 2011, buildings account for 19 percent of the nation’s total energy usage and 34 percent of its electricity usage. Policies directed at commercial buildings are important to improving the economy, reducing pollution and strengthening energy efficiency. Although the country has over time maintained a steady pace in improving energy efficiency, a huge potential still exists, especially for commercial buildings. A wide range of credible estimates are available that point to this potential for cost-effective energy-efficiency improvements (see the graph).

THIS PROPOSED legislation complements the approaches taken in more comprehensive energy-efficiency proposals by focusing on the roof, which is the only building-envelope component that is regularly replaced but rarely upgraded to address energy and other environmental impacts.

Most buildings were constructed before building energy codes were first developed in the mid-1970s, or buildings were constructed under relatively weak codes, so these older, under-insulated roofs offer an important opportunity for increased energy savings. During the next 17 to 20 years, most of the weatherproof membranes on all commercial roofs will be replaced or recovered, which is the most cost-effective time to add needed insulation.

By accelerating demand for energy-efficient commercial roofs, the proposed legislation would:

    ▪▪ Create nearly 40,000 new jobs among roofing contractors and manufacturers.
    ▪▪ Add $1 billion in taxable annual revenue to the construction sector.
    ▪▪ Save $86 million in energy costs in the first year.
    ▪▪ Eliminate and offset carbon emissions by 1.2 million metric tons (equal to emissions of 229,000 cars).

THE LEGISLATION has the support of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association; National Roofing Contractors Association; Alliance to Save Energy; American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy; Associated Buildings & Contractors Inc.; Building Owners and Managers Association International; United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers; and several more construction industry associations.

When Sens. Cardin and Crapo reintroduce the Energy-Efficient Cool Roof Jobs Act, they hope it will influence the future debate about tax and energy policy. Although consideration of tax reform has stalled for the moment, when Congress returns to this issue it will be a golden opportunity to consider ideas for reforming cost-recovery periods and removing the disincentives that overly long depreciation schedules currently place on building energy-efficiency improvements.

The Cool-roof Bandwagon: Is It Headed To Your City?

Spring is here, and summer is on the horizon. But for millions of Americans, it will take more than a few days of sunshine to thaw the memories of the winter of 2013-14. The National Weather Service is still compiling the statistics to let us know just how bad the winter really was. In the meantime, most of us have a more immediate way to measure the impact of the polar vortex on our lives: One look at our heating bills and we know that this past winter deserves its reputation as one of the most brutal on record.

On the West Coast, as 2014 dawned, very different climate issues were front and center. The city of Los Angeles was being praised for its mandate requiring all new and renovated domestic housing to install “cool”, or reflective, roofing. The L.A. City Council passed the requirement as one of its last acts of 2013, and the new ordinance became part of California’s Title 24, which already required “cool” roofs in new and remodeled commercial construction.

THE NEWS media hailed Los Angeles as the “first major city to require cool roofs”, implying other urban areas will inevitably follow its lead. However, the winter of 2013-14 did a good job of reminding us that the climatic conditions of Southern California are dramatically different from the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. This simple fact needs to be underscored as the bandwagon to require cool roofs travels somewhat erratically to major Eastern cities.

Last June, the mayor of Pittsburgh initiated a lukewarm cool roofs program by calling for volunteers to help paint the roofs of 10 city buildings white. Two-thirds of the Pittsburgh effort—$56,000—was funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies, a project of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The tagline of Bloomberg Philanthropies is “Good Intentions, Great Results.” I applaud the mayor’s good intentions in supporting projects that are designed to save energy. As for achieving “great results” by painting the roofs of 10 Pittsburgh buildings white? Don’t bet your next heating bill on it.

While Bloomberg was mayor of New York, the city launched the “NYC °Cool-Roofs” initiative, encouraging building owners to cool their rooftops by applying a reflective white coating as part of the city’s overall plan to reduce greenhouse- gas emissions 30 percent by 2030.

In Baltimore, the talk about cool roofs was fueled by a report issued last October by the Abell Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to enhancing quality of life in Baltimore and Maryland. The report, which is primarily an overview of previously published research, recommended increased use of cool roofs in Baltimore.

While these cities institute varied programs to support cool roofs, several major facts are ignored:

    ▪▪ Energy costs are closely related to climate. A solution that works in a warm and temperate climate to curb energy costs will not necessarily work in a colder climate.
    ▪▪ It’s vitally important to consider the source of information about cool roofing. Unbiased, up-to-date scientific studies can provide the data you need to make an independent judgment. Likewise, the manufacturers of roofing membranes have a vested interest in ensuring their products are used correctly and have in-depth knowledge of how roofing systems will perform in a wide variety of conditions.
    ▪▪ Choosing and installing a roof that will contain energy costs is a complex business. It requires understanding the interaction between building design, climate, insulation and all the other factors that impact the efficiency of a roofing system. A one-size-fits-all approach will only delay the discovery of workable, cost-effective, energy-efficient solutions.

IN FACT, a study conducted by Arizona State University published this past winter in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences underscores the pitfalls of disregarding climate differences in roofing decisions. “What works over one geographical area may not be optimal for another,” says sustainability scientist Matei Georgescu, who led the research.

Although the headlines are touting Los Angeles’ cool roof requirements, I’d like to see headlines that read, “Energy Savings Achieved by Roofs Designed to meet Midwest and Northeast Climate Challenges”. Before anyone thinks about driving that cool-roofing bandwagon from Los Angeles to New York, you might want to equip it with snow tires.

Tile Roofing: Closed Valleys with Low-profile Tile

Batten extensions are installed on standard tile W valley metal.

Photo 1: Batten extensions are installed on standard tile W valley metal.

A common failure point on steep-slope roof systems is at valleys. Often, aging material, improper fastening, lack of maintenance and ice dams make valleys vulnerable. A common cause of valley troubles with tile roofing occurs when flat tiles are used in areas where closed valleys are preferred and a simple installation requirement is missed.

The Tile Roof Institute (TRI) Concrete and Clay Tile Installation Manual for Moderate Climate Regions allows for open (flashing exposed) and closed (tiles meet over flashing) valley installations. Installers develop a preference based on their experience with the local climate. Contractors also consider job-specific environmental conditions, aesthetic preferences, pitch and maintenance needs when choosing from valley-installation options.

Although there are a wide variety of flashing and installation options for valleys, one important requirement is often overlooked and can cause leaks with low-profile tile. The specification is listed on pages 48 and 49 of the installation manual: “When a flat profiled tile is installed as a ‘closed valley’, a ribbed valley metal or single crown valley metal with batten extension shall be used.”

Batten extensions are installed on standard tile W valley metal.

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Unobstructed water flow in the valley flashing is critical. A flat tile installed directly onto standard valley flashing in a closed method restricts water in the valley flashing during heavy rains and may cause it to overflow. This can speed degradation of the underlayment and may cause rot in the battens and decking. A closed-valley installation can be repaired by replacing the standard tile valley flashing with the correct ribbed metal or by adding a batten extension to each row (see photo 1).

Because medium- and high-profile tiles have a natural cavity between the flashing and tile, this requirement only applies to low-profile tile. According to the TRI installation manual, the definition of a low-profile tile is, “Tiles, such as flat tile, that have a top surface rise of 1/2 inch or less.” Most tiles with a wood grain, lined or brushed surface still fall into the low-profile category and will require batten extensions or ribbed valley flashing.

An elevated batten system with ribbed valley flashing.

Photo 2: An elevated batten system with ribbed valley flashing. PHOTO: Boral Industries

When using a counter-batten system, or raised batten, the battens themselves can be extended into the valley because they are elevated on a pad or shim. In photo 2, a ribbed valley flashing and an elevated batten are used. Fasteners are not installed in/through the valley flashing.

Tile installers are craftsmen and each develops his or her own approach to valley details. Depending on the length of the valley and the tributary area, installers may flare or gradually open the width of the valley tile cut. Experienced installers may make a cut (dog ear) to the point of the tile that is overlapped by the succeeding row. Before accessory products, like ribbed valleys and batten extensions, were commercially available and before manufacturers improved the lug design, installers often removed lugs with their hammers. They developed propping and gluing skills to avoid creating a dam with their installation. Now the accessories and flashing designs make this type of installation better and easier.

Despite the variety of tiles within the low-profile category—some are flat on the back side and fastened directly to the deck, some have lugs on the back that can also utilize battens for attachment— all low-profile tile installed in a closed-valley method requires ribbed flashing or batten extensions unless precluded by manufacturer design and/or approved by the local building inspector.

An elevated batten system with ribbed valley flashing.

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Because of Florida’s wind and weather extremes, TRI and the Florida Roofing, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association collaborated on Florida High Wind Concrete and Clay Roof Tile Installation Manual, which also is available on TRI’s website.

PHOTOS: TILE ROOFING INSTITUTE, unless otherwise noted

The Stars Align as Waukegan Roofing Celebrates 100 Years in Business

Waukegan Roofing Co. Inc., Waukegan, Ill., is celebrating 100 years in business in 2014.

Waukegan Roofing Co. Inc., Waukegan, Ill., is celebrating 100 years in business in 2014.

The universe seems to be telling Bruce Diederich he is following the right path. Diederich is president of Waukegan Roofing Co. Inc., located in Waukegan, Ill., a suburb 32-miles north of Chicago. As the roofing-contracting firm enters its 100th year in business, it’s difficult to ignore the coincidences Diederich, who has owned the company for 16 years, has uncovered while researching Waukegan Roofing’s long history.

One hundred years ago, M.C. DeThorne established Waukegan Roofing on Philippa Avenue in Waukegan. Although Waukegan Roofing no longer is located on Philippa Avenue, Diederich is grooming his son Philip to someday take over the business. Strange? It gets better: DeThorne included his company’s telephone number—1625—on advertisements discovered by a local historian. Today, Waukegan Roofing’s phone number is (847) 623-1625.

An early location of Waukegan Roofing.

An early location of Waukegan Roofing.

If that isn’t enough, it seems as though Diederich was always meant to own a roofing business. His father owned a shingles-only roofing-contracting firm for 32 years. While he was growing up, Diederich worked for the company but opted to sell roofing materials instead and went to work for Bradco Supply, now Beloit, Wis.-based ABC Supply Co. Inc. Diederich happened to sell materials to Waukegan Roofing, which at that time was owned by Ed and Dave Hiner. The Hiners’ father had bought Waukegan Roofing from the DeThorne family in 1951. When Ed Hiner mentioned in 1998 they were planning to retire, Diederich pulled $5 out of his pocket and jokingly told Ed not to sell before he could speak to his youngest brother who was interested in returning to roofing. The next day Dave Hiner invited Diederich for coffee.

“We were parked next to each other and Dave opened his trunk and said, ‘Ed and I want you to buy our company. Here are the last 10 years of financials,’” Diederich recalls. “I put them in my car and called my wife, telling her she’d never believe what just occurred. She thought they were really serious and urged me to call our attorney and accountant. Thirty days later, I owned Waukegan Roofing.”

Owner Bruce Diederich credits his 55 union employees with his company’s success.

Owner Bruce Diederich credits his 55 union employees with his company’s success.

The Hiners had followed DeThorne’s lead and focused their business on low-slope commercial and industrial roofs. Diederich realized he could offer his shingle heritage to the business. “I looked around and there were all these retail centers being built and they all had a shingle-mansard roof of some form,” he says. “I approached Waukegan Roofing’s top-five contracts and asked what they thought about me starting a shingle division. Every one of them said it would be a great idea because they could come to Waukegan Roofing for everything, not just the flat part of the roof.”

Waukegan Roofing’s shingle division has been very successful since Diederich established it in 1998. Today, the firm constructs all types of low- and steep-slope roofs, along with roof-related sheet metal. In addition, in 2007, Diederich started a commercial service and maintenance division, which kept Waukegan Roofing busy through the economic downturn and benefitted the company’s growth overall.

Waukegan Roofing constructs all types of low- and steep-slope roofs, along with roof-related sheet metal, as well as operates a commercial service and maintenance division.

Waukegan Roofing constructs all types of low- and steep-slope roofs, along with roof-related sheet metal, as well as operates a commercial service and maintenance division.

Diederich credits his 55 union employees with his company’s success. “We stick by them through thick and thin,” he says. “We just believe in the people who work for the firm and in the quality of the product we put out. Our motto is ‘Installing roofs you can rely on’, and we believe in that wholeheartedly.”

All the clues that Diederich’s chosen profession was meant to be are there, and he agrees his life has come full circle—from working in his dad’s roofing business to helming a successful roofing contracting company of his own into its 100th year. “People ask me whether I regret buying a roofing company and I say, ‘Yeah, I wish I would’ve done it 10 years earlier’,” he chuckles.

INVOLVEMENT

Bruce Diederich is immediate past president of the Chicago Roofing Contractors Association. He also is an active member of the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association and National Roofing Contractors Association.

Upgrade to a Learning Management System

The first stone tools were made and used by early humans nearly 2.5 million years ago. As man evolved, so did the tools, transforming from blunt objects to precision equipment capable of greater rates of productivity and improved craftsmanship.

These days, tools aren’t the only advancements helping us do our jobs. During the past 10 years, safety training and compliance have evolved into a Learning Management System (LMS). An LMS is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of training programs.

BENEFITS

Learning Management System

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To better demonstrate the strategic value of an LMS, let’s look at the competitive profile comparing instructor-led training to LMS training. In the figure, the horizontal axis of the competitive profile captures the range of factors on which LMS and instructor-led training solutions compete. There are six principle factors:

    ▪▪ PRICE: The cost to set up and deliver an employee training solution.
    ▪▪ PERFORMANCE: Training that goes beyond introducing knowledge and generates behavior change, driving improved individual, team and organizational performance.
    ▪▪ ENGAGEMENT: Instructionally sound, visually appealing and interactive training programs that engage individuals throughout the learning.
    ▪▪ EASE OF USE: Easy set up and maintenance of the training and delivery system.
    ▪▪ CONVENIENCE: Easy employee access to the training, anytime and anywhere. This includes the office, the job site or even at home. Management can access records from mobile workstations without having to be in the office.
    ▪▪ MEASUREMENT: Easy and cost-effective learner tracking, measurement and reporting.

The figure shows LMS and instructor-led training score high for Performance, Engagement and Ease of Use. However, instructor-led training, relatively speaking and largely due to its inherent lack of convenience, is expensive (in addition to paying the training company, think travel and/or time away from the job for the trainees) and, therefore, it gets a low score on Convenience and Price.

In addition, LMS allows the employer the opportunity to automate the training process, deliver offline training and ensure continued compliance. To automate training, the employer creates a list of trainings needed by job description. These lists are then used to create a learning plan. When the employer puts a new employee into the system, the LMS will automatically assign the training content via the job description. The employer then monitors the system to ensure the employee is completing his or her training.

If the employer chooses not to use automation to assign training inside of the LMS, he or she can manually assign training courses one at a time through the system. This may be done to reissue a training course because of a workplace incident.

DID YOU KNOW?

More than 40 percent of global
Fortune 500 companies are
using some form of a Learning
Management System.

Pages: 1 2

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.