The Top 40 Products of 2019

The following product roundup features the Top 40 products of the year, as chosen by the readers of Roofing magazine. The products were selected based on the number of reader requests for sales leads through the Reader Action Card in the print issue and the number of clicks on the website, www.RoofingMagazine.com, including those generated through our monthly e-newsletter. The product generating the most leads from each print issue is also featured as our “Roofers’ Choice” product, and the past year’s winners are also included here. If you have a new product you’d like us to consider for a future edition of our Materials & Gadgets section, please email Editor-in-Chief Chris King at chris@roofingmagazine.com.

Water-Repellent Sloping Material Promotes Positive Drainage

Polyglass U.S.A. Inc. launches Polyslope, a water-repellent, fiber-reinforced, cementitious compound designed to address standing water, promote positive drainage, and divert water off the roof. According to the manufacturer, the product is ready to use after adding water and mixing. Polyslope is mixed with 1.2 gallons to 1.3 gallons of water per 50-pound pail. It is easy to screed and paintable after 48 hours. www.Polyglass.us

Roof Vent Designed Specifically for Clothes Dryers

The DryerJack is the first roof termination specifically designed for the demanding needs of venting clothes dryers. Made in the USA of Galvalume and available powder coated in black, brown or white, DryerJacks feature a patented curved damper that meets code requirements and more, according to the company. To safely vent dryers, airflow restriction must be minimized to prevent lint blowback and the fire hazard that creates. A passageway of 21 square inches delivers nearly zero airflow restriction, allowing the dryer to operate at peak performance. www.DryerJack.com

Low-VOC Aerosol Contact Adhesive/Primer Applies Quickly

The new AeroWeb Low-VOC Aerosol Contact Adhesive/Primer from Mule-Hide Products Co. complies with VOC-related regulations in all 50 states. According to the manufacturer, the product delivers aggressive adhesion and a quick drying time while going on as much as 60 percent faster than traditional roller-applied adhesives. It can be used in a wide variety of applications, including adhering standard TPO and standard EPDM membranes to horizontal and vertical surfaces; adhering fleece back membranes to vertical surfaces; enhancing the bond between Mule-Hide F5 Air & Vapor Barrier and various substrates; and priming unexposed asphalt prior to applying Mule-Hide Helix Low-Rise Adhesive for insulation attachment. www.MuleHide.com

Waterproofing Membrane Is Solvent Free

Chem Link launches NOVALINK WM, a waterproofing membrane available in two- or five-gallon pails. NOVALINK WM is a cold-applied, single-component waterproofing membrane that cures by exposure to atmospheric and substrate moisture to form a continuous, tough, reinforced elastic seal. It is solvent-free and compliant with all known environmental and OSHA requirements, allowing its use in confined spaces with standard personal protection equipment. www.ChemLink.com

Structural Acoustical Roof Decks Reduce Noise Levels

Tectum Structural Acoustical Roof Deck solutions from Armstrong Building Solutions provide predictable noise absorption, durability, and sustainability to meet building design needs. Composite roof deck options provide R-values up to 44. By providing noise absorption up to 0.80, the panels often eliminate the need for additional acoustical treatments, providing faster and easier installations than standard steel roof decks. According to the manufacturer, Tectum Roof Decks are an ideal noise reduction solution for large, high traffic, exposed structure spaces such as auditoriums, gymnasiums, arenas, pools, ice arenas and multi-use facilities. www.ArmstrongBuildingSolutions.com

High-Temperature, Self-Adhered Underlayment

Boral Roofing offers its MetalSeal Underlayment, a high-temperature, self-adhered underlayment designed especially for metal roofing but suitable for any roof material in any climate. According to the company, Boral MetalSeal is easy to install and eliminates the need for an excessive number of nails, reducing installation time and cost. The high-strength woven polyester surface remains intact under high foot traffic and provides UV resistance up to six months. It comes in 216-square-foot rolls for a net two squares. www.BoralRoof.com

Vent Secured Roofing System

Carlisle SynTec Systems introduces the VacuSeal Vent Secured Roofing System, which uses special vents that harness the power of the wind to lock roof membranes in place. According to the manufacturer, VacuSeal systems are quick and easy to install and save cost and labor by substantially reducing the amount of glue, ballast, or fasteners a project requires. According to the company, there are no cold-weather limitations for installation and no VOCs or odors. The system is UL certified with uplift certification at 195 psf negative pressure. www.CarlisleSynTec.com

Extended-Length Aluminum Retrofit Drain

Marathon Roofing Productsnow offers an extended version of its Aluminator Retrofit Drain that is 22 inches long. According to the company, the Aluminator Drain is constructed of heavy-duty spun aluminum body, aluminum ring/dome and the ProSeal seal designed to prevent water backup issues. The Aluminator also has the option to be PVC or TPO coated for direct hot-air welding to PVC or TPO membranes. www.MarathonDrains.com

Versatile All-Weather Roof Flashing

New Seal-Fast Repair Hero roof flashing from Mule-Hide Products Co. is an all-system, all-weather maintenance and repair product. The solvent-based, fiber-reinforced terpolymer sealant adheres to all roof substrates, including asphalt, modified bitumen, metal, TPO, EPDM, PVC, Kynar, concrete, Elvaloy/PVC, Hypalon (CSPE) and polyisobutylene (PIB). According to the manufacturer, Repair Hero can be applied to dry or wet surfaces and under water. It can be used in any weather and in any ambient temperature. Repair Hero complies with VOC-related regulations in all 50 states and does not need to be mixed or stirred before use. www.MuleHide.com

Bulk Material Warmer Protects Temperature-Sensitive Products

Powerblanket Hot Boxes are designed to efficiently heat temperature-sensitive materials such as roofing materials, paints, chemicals, epoxies, resins, equipment, and pallets of any material. Easily assembled, taken apart, and moved from job to job, hot boxes are ideal for cold-weather storage and freeze protection, as well as transporting, jobsite heating, remote location use, and winter roofing projects. According to the manufacturer, the Hot Box can protect critical, temperature-sensitive materials and extend the roofing season and limit downtime to maximize profits. It is safe to leave on overnight for immediate use the next day. www.Powerblanket.com

Silicone-Infused Elastomeric Roof Coating

Nationwide Protective Coatings Mfrs. Inc. introduces PERMASIL, a new silicone-infused bright white elastomeric acrylic, ceramic insulating, waterproofing protective roof coating. The water-based, energy-saving formula is designed to beautify, protect and extend the life of roofing surfaces. Silicone technology adds extra waterproofing protection by sheeting off water from the dried coating surface. According to the manufacturer, the product is easy to apply and comes with a 15-year warranty. www.NationwideCoatings.com

Rooftop Walkway System Features Integrated Safety Railing

Kee Safety Inc. introduces Kee Walk with Guardrail, an OSHA-compliant rooftop walkway system with an integrated safety railing. Designed to provide a secure, anti-slip walking surface on all roof types including metal profile and standing seam roofs, Kee Walk with Guardrail accommodates steps, traverses, and sloped roofs with pitches up to 35 degrees, according to the company. Kee Walk with Guardrail helps to eliminate potential fall hazards by presenting a clear demarcation route for personnel accessing the roof. The corrosion-resistant walkway-railing system is compatible with other Kee Safety fall protection products to deliver a complete rooftop safety solution, according to the company. www.KeeSafety.com 

Self-Adhering, High-Temperature Roofing Underlayment

MFM Building Products unveils a high-temperature roofing underlayment, Premium HT Tile & Metal. This self-adhering roofing underlayment is composed of a high-grade, reinforced polyester fabric laminated to a high-temperature asphalt adhesive system. This premium product also has a fiberglass-reinforced core for extreme durability. Product features a 3-inch (7 cm) selvedge edge to ensure a secure, monolithic seal. The surface fabric offers excellent foot traction and for stacking tiles during construction. UV exposure is 180 days. Premium HT Tile & Metal will withstand the high temperatures created by metal and tile roofing with a high temperature rating of 250°F (121°C). www.MFMbp.com

PVC Pressure-Sensitive Cover Strip Eliminates Need for PVC-Coated Metal

Carlisle SynTec Systems introduces Sure-Flex PVC Pressure-Sensitive (PS) Cover Strip, a groundbreaking new product designed to help contractors save time, labor, and money. Carlisle’s new PVC PS Cover Strip is used for stripping-in flat metal edging and eliminates the need for costly PVC-coated metal or two-piece clip-on edge metal. PVC PS Cover Strip is compatible with a variety of metal finishes and is quick and easy to install; no welding is required. Simply apply PVC Step 1 Activator, followed by PVC Step 2 Primer, then install the PVC PS Cover Strip. www.CarlisleSynTec.com

New Roof Coating Products

EPDM Coatings announces the addition of several new products to its roof coating line, including its 97 percent volume solid EnergyMax, Bonding Primers, Rust Inhibitors and Clear-Coat specifically designed for coating skylights, brick and stucco. EPDM Coatings provides its customers worldwide with a full range of products, including many that have been ASTM tested and CRRC rated, Miami-Dade approved, as well as NSF approved for potable water applications. The company offers solutions for almost all types of roofs, including built-up, modified bitumen, metal, concrete, TPO, EPDM and foam. Also, for roofs on a budget, one base coat of the aromatic polyurethane can fix most leaks, and the application can be completed after a year to get the full benefits of a system. www.EPDMcoatings.net

Modified Bitumen Membranes Feature Highly Reflective Granules

Soprema unveils a new-generation of SOPRALENE SG and ELASTOPHENE SG modified bitumen cap sheets enhanced with 3M Highly Reflective Granules. These new-generation granulate-surfaced cap sheets bring improved durability and an even brighter white appearance to the market. Moving forward, the new 3M ultrareflective granule will be integrated into Soprema SG products to create solutions that provide the solar reflective index (SRI) ratings needed to comprehensively meet the highest U.S. and Canadian reflectivity requirements while providing the proven protection factor of multi-ply SBS-modified bitumen systems. The new lightweight cap sheets also feature robust opacity, protecting the asphaltic layer and extending the life span of the rooftop. www.Soprema.us

Porcelain Roofing Tile Replicates Slate, Timber and Clay

Daltile launches its Perennial Porcelain Roofing Tile, which is available in six colors and designs to replicate the look of slate, timber, and clay. According to the manufacturer, Perennial Porcelain Roofing Tiles are easy to install and the low overall weight of Daltile’s Perennial Porcelain Roof System adds to the speed of installation. Daltile utilizes its patented, cutting-edge digital printing process, Reveal Imaging, to produce Perennial’s tile designs. Made in the U.S.A., Daltile’s Perennial tiles offer all of the inherent advantages of porcelain tile: resiliency, longevity, resistance to frost, high breaking strength, imperviousness to water, 110 mph wind rating, Class A fire rating (fire resistant), Class IV hail impact rating, and walkability. www.Daltile.com/roofing

Ladder Personal Fall Arrest Systems Comply With OSHA Regulations

Design Components Inc. offers both rigid rail and cable grab style ladder Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS). This is in response to the OSHA requirements that went into effect on November 19, 2018. OSHA regulations now require that all fixed ladders over 24 feet be equipped with a PFAS. Design Components offers a variety of fall arrest systems that meet the new OSHA and existing ANSI standards. These systems are customizable and are packaged together to include the needed accessories, including the attachment hardware, trolleys, cable grabs, and deluxe body harnesses. www.DesignComponents.com

Sealer Designed Specifically for Metal Roof Applications

Drop-Stop sealer was specifically designed for application to metal roofs and problem areas such as gutters and expansion joints. According to the manufacturer, Dynamic Fastener, Drop-Stop can easily be applied over sloped, contoured surfaces and will give long-lasting, colorful protection. Made from select synthetic rubbers, Drop-Stop is applied as effortlessly as heavy-bodied paints and stretches and recovers to bridge roof joints in which thermal movement can be expected. With 1,500 PSI tensile strength and 600 percent elongation capabilities, the product can singlehandedly tackle most metal repairs. White Drop-Stop is stocked in 20-ounce sausage packs, 1-gallon pails, 5-gallon buckets and 55-gallon drums. www.DynamicFastener.com

Redesigned Strut Support Provides Improved Performance

Green Link Engineering offers its redesigned KnuckleHead Strut Support, which provides improved performance and more visually appealing aesthetics. The new design features a sleeker look with ribs flanking each side of the head. The new strut head features a 1 1/8-inch deep cavity for holding a standard steel strut. When mechanically fastening the strut into place, bolts or screws pass through the side of the head into the metal strut. The new design features a flat surface, instead of the previous curved design, resulting in easier installation and a tighter fit between screw and head. With shear strength of up to 275 psi, Green Link Adhesive/Sealant can replace mechanical fasteners making for easier installation. www.GreenLinkEngineering.com

Capped Skylight Conversion Kit

Kingspan Light + Air offers the Skyco Skylights Capped Conversion Kit, which converts old capless skylights to a more trusted capped system. With the kit, commercial roofers receive a universal fitting Polycarbonate dome, a custom-sized aluminum cap, and Tek Screw with EPDM gaskets. According to the company, using a cap around the perimeter of the polycarbonate dome creates a leak-free seal and eliminates cracking. The custom-fitted aluminum cap is fastened to the skylight frame with Tek-Screws instead of drilling through the plastic dome. Penetrating the dome with screws is a major cause for cracking. www.SkycoSkylights.com

Multi-Width Composite Shake Tiles Resemble Traditional Cedar

DaVinci Roofscapes has added a fourth shake profile to its composite roofing product offering: DaVinci Select Shake. Created with the authentic look of real cedar shake taken from natural wood profiles, the multi-width DaVinci Select Shake tiles resemble a traditional cedar shake look. Available in 8-inch and 10-inch widths, each DaVinci Select Shake tile is 22 inches long and has a 5/8-inch thickness. The 10-inch wide pieces have a simulated keyway to give the appearance of 4-inch and 6-inch width shakes placed together. The unique tile design of DaVinci Select Shake allows for faster installation than previous DaVinci single- and multi-width products. www.DaVinciRoofscapes.com

Polyiso Cover Board Offers Grade 1 Compressive Strength

Johns Manville introduces its ProtectoR HD High Density Polyiso Cover Board. According to the manufacturer, it provides excellent protection and can save time and expense for contractors. With a closed-cell polyiso foam core and inorganic coated glass facers, this high-density cover board has a Grade 1 compressive strength and an R-value of 2.5. The product offers excellent resistance to moisture, hail, wind uplift and puncture, plus its light weight makes it easy to handle. www.JM.com

Attachment Protects Standing Seam Roofs From Retractable Lanyards

SeamSAFE, a provider of fall protection for standing seam roofers, offers its Retractable Lanyard Disks, which fit over SeamSAFE anchors to help protect standing seam roofs from damage caused by dragging or dropping retractable lanyards during roofing projects. The disks serve as a shield to minimize the potential for roof scrapes and surface indentations. The Retractable Lanyard Disk is one of three new attachments designed to extend the utility and versatility of the company’s safety anchors. The other new accessories are SeamSAFE’s ladder attachment and toe board attachment. www.SeamSafe.com

Redesigned Cap Nailer Features Enhanced Magazine

National Nail introduces the newly-enhanced STINGER CN100B Cap Nailer with an innovative design that improves performance with an improved cap magazine for added durability. Lightweight at 4.9 pounds, STINGER’s CN100B features easy loading, upgraded tool life, and utilizes full, 1-inch collated plastic caps; it is capable of firing 200 caps/200 nails before reloading. The Electro Galvanized ring shank nails are 1-inch by .083-inch full round head nails. The unit also includes an installed belt hook, trigger with bumpfire and sequential modes, and durable carrying case. www.StingerWorld.com

Measuring Tape Specially Designed for Applying Architectural Shingles

The Roofers Tape is specially designed for installing 5-5/8-inch architectural shingles. Crew members can mark and layout the roof quickly and accurately without mistakes using the Red Points and Red Arrows as a guide, minimizing waste and saving money. All measurements of 5-5/8 intervals are marked on the 25-foot Roofers Tape. The 5-5/8 layout reveal complies with factory recommended installation, especially with wind damage. The Black Points are also included for marking short vertical starter lines or bond lines on standard three-tab shingles 6 inches before any even 3 feet. www.TheRoofersTape.com

EPDM Membrane Designed to Reduce Installation Time

Firestone Building Products Company LLC (FSBP) introduces FullForce EPDM. According to the manufacturer, FullForce EPDM can be installed more than four times faster than standard adhered EPDM and in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing contractors to complete more jobs throughout the entire roofing season. The membrane is fully coated from seam to seam with Firestone’s factory-applied Secure Bond pressure-sensitive adhesive. With no seam tape, FullForce can be installed more quickly than traditional EPDM. Additionally, the solution is ideal for occupied buildings, as it contains zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs). www.FirestoneBPCO.com

TW Seam Tape Offers Added Protection for Roof Decks

TAMKO’s TW Seam Tape is used to close sheathing gaps on the roof deck and help keep water from entering the home. TW Seam Tape is a flexible, self-adhering SBS-modified bitumen membrane with a polymer film on the surface and a removable treated release film on the adhesive side. It is applied to all roof deck joints and seams after the roof deck installation, before the underlayment is applied. It is designed for application on a variety of surfaces, including OSB and plywood. It has a textured, skid-resistant surface and comes in 4-inch rolls, with each roll covering 61 linear feet. www.TAMKO.com

Upgraded Adhesive Dispenser Helps Increase Productivity

OMG’s PaceCart 3, the exclusive equipment for dispensing OlyBond500 Insulation Adhesives, offers more robust and faster pumps to help enhance rooftop productivity with the capacity to dispense enough OlyBond500 to apply up to 120 squares of insulation per hour – twice as fast as before. In addition, the PaceCart 3 includes several other features that help improve jobsite productivity including an easy-to-use, ergonomically designed manifold and a simplified electrical system with an easy-to-read voltage meter so contractors know when power is insufficient. Color-coded adhesive trays help prevent cross contamination of Part 1 and Part 2 components. www.OMGRoofing.com

New Line of Leading Edge Self-Retracting Lifelines

Malta Dynamics introduces its Edgehog Leading Edge Self-Retracting Lifelines. According to the manufacturer, the Edgehog line meets ANSI standard Z359.14-2014 for a worker capacity range of 130-310 lbs. Boasting a compact and lightweight design, the Class A Edgehog Leading Edge Self-Retracting Lifelines feature durable housing, a quick-action braking system, an integral shock absorber and a swivel top connection point. The Edgehog units contain shock packs on the end. When the cable becomes isolated over an edge during a fall, the shock pack engages to reduce arresting forces. This puts less force on the worker who has fallen and also doesn’t damage the cable. www.MaltaDynamics.com

Pipe-Style Snow Guards Designed for Tile Roofing

The three-pipe PP235LS from Alpine SnowGuards is height adjustable to 39 degrees to accommodate varying roof pitches. The bracket is available in aluminum mill-finish, powder coated aluminum and brass. The PP235 system’s base plate is sized to match your tile, and is also available in aluminum and brass. The image pictured here is the PP235LS three-pipe height-adjustable system for Ludowici Spanish Tile. www.AlpineSnowguards.com

Skylight Automation System Provides Natural Ventilation

VELUX offers VELUX ACTIVE with NETATMO help ensure a healthier indoor climate by automatically opening the skylights to air out the house. Smart sensor technology monitors CO2, humidity and temperature in the home, while the system also connects to online weather forecasts. It automatically opens the skylights if fresh air is needed inside and automates blinds to help control indoor temperature. Homeowners can also use the VELUX ACTIVE smartphone app to control their skylights even if they are away from the house. www.WhySkylights.com

Nine-Foot Self-Retracting Lifelines

FallTech introduces its DuraTech Personal Leading Edge line of single and twin 9-foot self-retracting lifelines (SLRs). According to the manufacturer, the new products were tested to meet ensure they meet ANSI leading edge standards to help protect against sharp edge hazards. Their innovative design features a lightweight and impact-resistant nylon polymer housing and proprietary integrated dorsal connector that provides a quick and straightforward push-button attachment. SLRs are calibrated for typical walking speeds and are available in single and twin-leg configurations with steel and aluminum snap hook, rebar hook, and carabiner lifeline connector options. www.FallTech.com

Advanced Polymers for the Manufacturing of TPO Membranes

Dow’s portfolio of materials for roofing membranes features advanced polymers for thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) systems. These proven solutions can help manufacturers develop custom-tailored formulations that fit specific designs, production processes, and end-use requirements. With several advantages over incumbent materials, ENGAGE TR Polyolefin Elastomers (POEs) represent the company’s current state-of-the-art for TPO-based membrane formulations. According to the manufacturer, ENGAGE TR POEs offer an ethylene-based solution that has inherently better longevity, and can be formulated to produce membranes with significantly improved flexibility and broad welding window. The unique design of ENGAGE TR also allows increased filler loading, which can, in turn, be used to improve fire performance. www.Dow.com

Shingle Line Available in Six New Cool Colors

IKO expands its Cambridge Cool Colors shingle line with six new colors that have an increased Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) of 20-plus, exceeding California’s Title 24 minimum standard by 25 percent. The expansion of this line offers three distinct color blends ranging from COOL PLUS, COOL and Natural COOL. The COOL PLUS color selection includes the darker options of Weatherwood, Harvard Slate, Dual Brown and Graphite Black. COOL shingles are available in SRI 20-plus in the medium color blends Canyon Oak and Sand Dune. The original color range, NATURAL COOL, has an SRI of 16-plus with an added benefit of Dual Grey also being algae resistant and Arctic White having the highest SRI of 23-plus. www.IKO.com

New Fluid-Applied Membrane Restoration System

Garland’s first ever fluid-applied seamless membrane, LiquiTec, is designed to form a virtually impenetrable surface over aged modified bitumen, metal and single-ply roof systems, adding years of waterproofing protection. LiquiTec is an aliphatic polyurea coating system with a tightly bonded molecular structure that provides strength and durability similar to truck bed liners. The product is built to protect roof surfaces from damage caused by hail, foot traffic, wind scour and other impact. According to the manufacturer, LiquiTec fully and partially reinforced systems exhibit extremely high tensile strength and remain flexible at temperatures down to -60°F (-51°C), which helps keep the coating from cracking or becoming brittle to ensure a complete watertight seal and long-term waterproofing protection. www.Garlandco.com

Ladder Extension System Helps Provide Safe Access to Rooftops

The Safe-T Ladder Extension System from Dynamic Fastener easily attaches to most standard extension ladders and allows for safe and easy access to rooftops. According to the manufacturer, it requires no tools, drilling, or bolting to install, and once installed, it provides two offsetting handrails that offer a point of walk-through to step on or off the ladder. This item will allow workers to comply with OSHA standard 1926.1053(b), which states, “When portable ladders are used for access to an upper landing surface, the ladder side rails shall extend at least 3 feet above the upper landing surface to which the ladder is used to gain access.” www.DynamicFastener.com

HDPE Step Flashing Offers Two Color Options

NuStep Flashing launches its innovative step flashing manufactured from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The patented product was specifically designed to provide a faster, easier, and safer way for crews to install step flashing. According to the company, it is 75 percent lighter than traditional metal flashing with a pliability that is easier and safer to work with. Each piece of flashing has two color options. NuStep Flashing is manufactured in the U.S.A. and every production run goes through extensive testing using the ASTM process for impact, tensile, puncture resistance and UV exposure. NuStep Flashing has been recognized and certified by the International Code Council and is backed by a limited lifetime warranty. www.NuStepFlashing.com

Cut-Resistant Gloves Designed to Help Prevent Jobsite Injuries

PrimeSource Building Products introduces a new range of cut-resistant gloves under its GRX brand. According to the manufacturer, the new range will provide better cut protection and more durability, without sacrificing comfort or dexterity. The 700 Series features PalmWick Breathable Palm Technology, which allows the hand to breathe on the palm side of the glove. The 600 Series features the ExaGrip Latex Palm, which combines best in class durability and grip. The new cut-resistant technology meets ANSI standards and comes in a range of ANSI A-2 (500 grams to cut) for light to medium cut protection, all the way up to ANSI A-6 (6,000 grams to cut) for extreme cut hazards on the job. www.PrimeSourceBP.com

Concrete Tile Lines Available in New Suite of Colors

Boral Roofing LLC unveils the Vista Collection. The new concrete roof tile options include five new varied neutral shades introduced to meet specific architectural, lifestyle and color trends emerging within the state of Texas. The new suite of hues is available with two of Boral Roofing’s most popular tile styles in the region – Saxony Country Slate and Shake. The shades include Charcoal Brown Blend, Chestnut Burnt, Dark Bordeaux, Weathered Cedar and Weathered Greige. The collection launch is a direct result of extensive research conducted into consumer lifestyle and home design trends happening within the state. The concrete tile offers a Class A fire rating. www.BoralRoof.com

FEMA’s New Mitigation Program Could Mean Good News for the Construction Industry

Photo: EPDM Roofing Association (ERA)

It’s hard to find bipartisan agreement on anything in Washington these days. But the Disaster Recovery and Reform Act (DRRA) sailed through the Senate and was signed by President Trump two days later, on October 5, 2018. At the time the bill was signed, FEMA Administrator Brock Long said, “We’ll never be able to eliminate all risks, but this enables us to take action now so that individuals and communities will be better positioned to recover more quickly when disasters do occur.”

FEMA had put forward the ideas contained in the new law in its draft National Mitigation Investment Strategy released earlier in 2018. According to the FEMA draft, the final investment strategy was to be grounded in three fundamental principles:

  1. Catalyze private and non­profit sector mitigation investments and innovation;
  2. Improve collaboration between the federal government and state, local, tribal and territorial governments, respecting local expertise in mitigation investing; and
  3. Make informed decisions based on data including lifetime costs and risks.

The investment strategy’s overarching goal, according to FEMA, would be to improve the coordination and effectiveness of “mitigation investments,” defined as risk management actions taken to avoid, reduce, or transfer risks from natural hazards, including severe weather. The final DRRA legislation closely adhered to this plan.

Since the DRRA passed more than a year ago, the folks at FEMA, who will administer the provisions of the bill, have been figuring out how to get the millions of dollars authorized by the new legislation to the people who could make good use of that money. But one thing is for sure: when the money starts to flow, it could be very good news for the construction industry in general and roofers in particular.

Simply put, the new legislation marks a clear change in the federal approach to dealing with the damage caused by increasingly frequent natural and man-made disasters. As 2019 draws to a close, the United States has been buffeted by firestorms, hail, drought, tornadoes, and Hurricanes Michael and Florence. While the damage is still being totaled, it will run into the billions. The not-so-subtle message in the DRRA from FEMA: the agency is telling us not to expect to be bailed out by the federal government and instead is putting their money into helping people prepare for these disasters. In other words, FEMA wants to change the focus from response to resilience, and break the cycle of what they are calling “disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage.”

How did this change in approach come about? Clearly the current approach is unsustainable. Waiting until a structure is damaged by a cataclysmic event and then rebuilding it to the same standards has only resulted in more damaged structures. The DRRR legislation itself authorizes the creation of the National Public Infrastructure Pre-Disaster Mitigation fund, using a percentage of what might have been spent on disaster relief. FEMA is still crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s on its new plan to channel money through the states for individual projects, now called the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (or BRIC) Program.

Why is it taking more than a year for FEMA to put the BRIC program into place? As with all things in Washington, especially when they deal with money and how it will be spent, this is a complex process. The ink was barely dry on the president’s signature when FEMA solicited input on how to structure the new program, and help states find their way through the red tape to actually secure funding. The call for input was distributed far and wide through webinars, regional and state workshops and national conferences.

As of mid-summer, FEMA received more that 5,000 comments. Clearly a lot of people are watching this program very carefully. FEMA is expected to have the details of the new program worked out by early 2020. At the same time, it will offer technical support that will describe how to apply for the available funds.

Prepare for Changes Now

For many in the construction industry, and for roofers specifically, the time to prepare for the availability of the new funds is now. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) is a research facility supported by the insurance industry that evaluates residential and commercial construction materials under extreme conditions.

As the president of IBHS recently noted, “The roof is your first line of defense against anything Mother Nature inflicts… and during a bad storm your roof endures fierce pressure from wind, rain, and flying debris.” Now, instead of being in a reactive, unpredictable cycle of cleaning up after natural disasters, roofers can plan to incorporate resilience into their roofing systems and, hopefully, access some of the new federal money to support their efforts, or the efforts of their customers.

Resilience — the ability of a structure to withstand devastating natural and man-made disasters and rebound quickly to normal operating functions — is an idea whose time has come. Prior to passage of the DRRA 46, industry groups urged FEMA “to support the inclusion of enhanced building codes and greater federal funding for resilient construction in the pending legislation.” Since then, industry organizations including BOMA, EESI, the AIA have devoted resources to clarifying what is meant by resilience and how the construction industry can respond to the related challenges.

Among the roofing industry, the EPDM Roofing Association (ERA) has created a microsite (http://epdmtheresilientroof.org) to serve as a resource for builders. The association has also issued an annual report called “Building Resilience: The Roofing Perspective.” The report, which will be updated yearly, contains specific guidance on creating a resilient roofing system, and includes science-based data on the resilient qualities of EPDM roofing membrane.

FEMA is poised to issue the specifics of the BRIC program that will set out a pathway to access federal funds. The roofing industry has the tools it needs to take advantage of this new mitigation-based federal approach to disaster management. The convergence of these two powerful forces should mean more business for roofers, and a more resilient built environment across the country.

About the Author: Louisa Hart is the director of communications for the Washington-based EPDM Roofing Association (ERA). For more information, visit www.epdmroofs.org.

Mediation, Litigation, and Arbitration … Oh My!

It’s a rare situation in this day and age that a construction contract or subcontract does not contain a dispute resolution clause, particularly the industry form contracts (such as the AIA, ConsensusDocs, and EJCDC). A contract may prescribe mediation, arbitration, or a combination of mediation and litigation or mediation and arbitration. Because parties are free to draft their own contracts, such provisions are generally enforceable. But what does all of it mean?

Mediation

First, mediation, though understood as a form of alternate dispute resolution, does not provide an ultimate decision maker. Rather, mediation is a settlement conference wherein the parties engage a neutral third party, the mediator, and meet (often in person) to present their respective cases. The mediator typically hears presentations regarding the facts of the case and assists the parties in understanding each side’s position and respective strengths and weaknesses to facilitate settlement. The mediator’s fee, generally calculated on an hourly basis, is split evenly between the parties (absent an agreement to the contrary). Importantly, the mediator has no authority to decide the case or compel a settlement or any particular outcome. In that sense, mediation only resolves the dispute if everyone voluntarily agrees to a settlement. That is why dispute resolution provisions sometimes use a combination of mediation and either arbitration or litigation to achieve a final resolution. If a voluntary settlement is not reached at mediation, an impasse results, and the parties should proceed as required by the contract.

Litigation

Litigation is initiated by the filing of a complaint in the appropriate jurisdiction and venue (which may be governed by the dispute resolution provision or other provisions in the contract). The parties are usually entitled to bring in additional parties who may be needed for a complete resolution of the issues. The litigation will proceed through a process of discovery, wherein parties exchange information and documentation related to the dispute, following strict rules of civil procedure and evidence. Eventually, a lawsuit will be tried either to a judge or jury who will render a verdict, which is reduced to an order or judgment. Any party that is unhappy with a verdict typically has the right of appeal.

Be advised that engaging in litigation doesn’t always mean that you won’t encounter alternative dispute resolution. For instance, North Carolina statutorily requires that all Civil Superior Court cases (typically involving actions for damages exceeding $25,000) be ordered to mediation before trial. Also, most Federal District Courts require parties to consider mediation or refer, and sometimes order, cases to mediation.

Arbitration

Arbitration is similar to a lawsuit but does not involve the court. Most dispute resolution provisions will designate a third-party association — often the American Arbitration Association (AAA) or JAMS — to act as the administrator of the arbitration. Arbitration is generally initiated with a demand by one party, after which an administrator is assigned to facilitate the process. Parties typically choose the arbitrator (or a panel of arbitrators) from a list provided by the administrator based on the subject matter of the dispute. Construction arbitrators are typically construction lawyers or other professionals with extensive experience in construction. The rules of evidence and procedure are relaxed in arbitration allowing the parties, with the assistance of the arbitrator and the administrator, to create their own scheduling, deadlines, procedures and rules for discovery and motions. Eventually, the dispute will be heard by the arbitrator(s), and there is no right to a jury. The arbitrator(s) will render an award which is only appealable in limited, and extraordinary, circumstances such as fraud or bias.

Arbitration is intended to be more efficient and inexpensive than litigation, but that’s not always the case. First, using a third-party administrator (AAA or JAMS) typically involves significantly higher filing fees than courts. Arbitration filing fees are determined on a sliding scale depending on the amount sought in the demand for arbitration. Also, unlike litigation, the parties must compensate the arbitrator(s) for the time spent in arbitration on an hourly basis. Because construction arbitrators are highly experienced construction professionals, their hourly rates are commensurate with those of construction attorneys.

Because arbitration is the product of an agreement to submit disputes to arbitration, only parties who are subject to an agreement to arbitrate (either the dispute resolution provision in a contract or a separate agreement) may be compelled to arbitrate. This can sometimes make arbitration inefficient. For instance, where a general contractor initiates arbitration against a roofing contractor, the roofing contractor may attribute the actual cause of the dispute to a lower-tier subcontractor or supplier. However, if that lower-tier subcontractor or supplier is not subject to an agreement to arbitrate, there is no mechanism whereby it can be compelled to join in the arbitration proceeding, whereas in litigation, it could usually be joined as a party. In that case, the roofing contractor may be forced to defend against the general contractor in arbitration and simultaneously prosecute a separate action against the lower-tier subcontractor or supplier, resulting in both increased costs and duplicated efforts.

Weighing the Advantages

Each method of dispute resolution has its advantages and disadvantages. Acknowledging the differences in the methods of alternative dispute resolution allows the parties to craft a procedure that’s right for them. Even if the contract is silent as to dispute resolution, the parties (with unanimous agreement) can submit their disputes to mediation or arbitration.

Other contract provisions that are particularly relevant to dispute resolution include choice of law and forum selection clauses. Choice of law clauses provide that a particular state’s laws will control dispute resolution, regardless of where the project is located or the proceedings will be held. Forum selection clauses prescribe the location of the dispute resolution proceeding.

Understanding the dispute resolution provision(s) in your contract and the law and procedures which will apply is critical. Engage legal counsel during contract drafting or review and negotiation to ensure the dispute resolution clause is appropriate and effective. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

About the author: Lindsey E. Powell is an attorney with Anderson Jones, PLLC practicing in North Carolina and Georgia. Questions about this article can be directed to her at lpowell@andersonandjones.com.

Author’s note: This article is intended only for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice.

Tapered Insulation Can Prevent Ponding on Low-Slope Roofs

The primary and most important function of a roof membrane in a low-slope roof system is to provide weatherproofing by keeping the rainwater from entering the roof assembly. Ponding water poses the greatest risk to a roofing membrane, since it not only shortens its service life, but can lead to more serious life safety concerns when loads and deflections exceed the designed conditions. This could lead to a roof collapse. From an aesthetics standpoint, areas on roofs with a prevalence for ponding are susceptible to unsightly bacterial and algae growth as well as accumulation of dirt. Given the large footprint of low-slope roofs on typical commercial buildings, managing rainwater timely and effectively is an important design consideration in new roof design as well as roof replacements on existing buildings. In addition, the model building codes include requirements for minimum drainage slope and identify ponding instability as a design consideration for rain loads.

Tapered insulation systems are an integral part of roof system design and can help reduce or eliminate the amount of ponding water on the roof when the roof deck does not provide adequate slope to drain. The popularity of tapered insulation has grown as more designers and roofing professionals understand the importance of positive drainage in good roofing practice. Because of its wide use in low-slope roofing application, tapered polyiso insulation systems offer a number of benefits in addition to providing positive drainage: high R-value, versatility and customization to accommodate project-by-project complexity as well as ease of installation. This article highlights the key considerations for tapered insulation systems.

Slope and Drainage Requirements in Building Codes

The model building codes require that commercial roofs be sloped to achieve a positive drainage of rainwater to drains, scuppers, and gutters. The term “positive roof drainage” is defined in the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) as “the drainage condition in which consideration has been made for all loading deflection of the roof deck, and additional slope has been provided to ensure drainage of the roof within 48 hours of precipitation.” The 2018 IBC indicates a minimum design 1/4:12 units slope requirement for membrane roof systems, and minimum slope of 1/8 inch per foot for coal tar pitch roofs. New construction must comply with the minimum slope requirements in IBC Section 1507. Roof replacement or roof re-cover applications of existing low-slope roof coverings that provide positive roof drainage are exempt from the minimum prescriptive1/4:12 units slope requirement.

Roof drains are part of an approved storm drainage system and function to divert water off and away from the building. Roof drainage systems in new construction must comply with provisions in Section 1502 of the 2018 IBC and Section 1106 and 1108 of the International Plumbing Code (IPC) for primary and secondary (emergency overflow) drains or scuppers. Roof replacement and re-cover applications on existing low-slope roofs that provide positive roof drainage are exempt from requirements for secondary drains or scuppers. It is important to note that secondary drainage systems or scuppers in place on existing buildings cannot be removed unless they are replaced by secondary drains or scuppers designed and installed in accordance with the IBC.

When reviewing the options available for achieving the required slope in a roof system, designers have a number of choices. According to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) (see “The NRCA Roofing Manual: Membrane Roof Systems: 2019”) the slope can be achieved by: sloping the structural framing or deck; designing a tapered insulation system; using an insulating fill that can be sloped to drain; properly designing the location of roof drains, scuppers and gutters; or a combination of the above.

Design Considerations For Tapered Insulation Systems

Proper design and installation are critical to the effective performance of tapered polyiso insulation systems, and this is true for any product or system. Tapered polyiso is manufactured in 4-foot-by-4-foot or 4-foot-by-8-foot panels that change thicknesses over the 4-foot distance from the low edge to the high edge on the opposing sides of the panel. The standard slopes for tapered insulation are 1/8 inch, 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch per foot to accommodate specific project requirements. However, tapered insulation panels with slopes as low as 1/16 inch and other alternative slopes (3/16 inch and 3/8 inch per foot) can be specially ordered to accommodate unique field conditions. The minimum manufactured thickness of tapered polyiso insulation board at its low edge is 1/2 inch and the maximum thickness at the high edge is 4-1/2 inches.

The design of the tapered insulation system will be governed by the footprint and complexity of the roof under consideration, slope of the roof deck, presence and configuration of roof drains (primary and secondary), scuppers, gutter or drip edges. In addition, roof structures, height of parapet walls, expansion joints, curbs and through-wall flashings and any other elements that may obstruct water management also needs to be considered in the design phase. The tapered insulation system will be lowest at internal drains, scuppers, gutters and drip edges, and will slope upwards away from these features.

Keeping in mind that the primary goal of a tapered insulation system is to most effectively move water to the specified drainage points. A two-way (two directional slope) or four-way (four directional slope) system are the most common designs. A two-way tapered insulation system is commonly used on roofs where multiple drains are in straight lines. In this scenario, there is a continuous low-point between the drains and it often extends to the parapet walls. Crickets are installed in between the drains and between the building or parapet walls and the drains. (See Figure 1a.)

A four-way tapered insulation system is the most effective way to move water off the roof, and this approach is highly recommended by industry professionals. In this scenario with a drain located in the center, water is drained from the higher perimeter edges on all four sides. (See Figure 1b.) Variations of two-way and four-way systems exist to accommodate complexities in the field. In addition to two-way and four-way systems, one directional slope and three directional slope tapered systems can be used to effectively move water to gutters, drip edges and scuppers.

Keeping in mind that a tapered system is more expensive than a roof system constructed with standard flat insulation only, the tapered design is often a target for “value engineering.” Value engineering can compromise the drainage intent of the design professional, architect or roof consultant for the purpose of lowering the installed cost of the roof system. Value engineering may change the specified slope or redesign the configuration of the tapered panels. In the end, the building owner may pay for a tapered insulation system that does not effectively drain water from the roof as intended by the original design. This will likely result in higher long-term costs for roof maintenance and premature roof system failure.

A typical tapered insulation system will incorporate flat polyiso board stock (referred to as “fill panels” or “tapered fill panels”) beneath continuing, repeating tapered panels. The tapered panels can be a single panel (or “one panel repeat”) system, meaning that the taper is provided by a single repeating panel in conjunction with fill panels. (See Figure 2a.) Non-typical designs can feature up to an eight-panel (or “eight panel repeat”) system with eight tapered panels making up the sloped section prior to incorporating the first fill panels. An example of “four panel repeat” system with 1-inch and 2-inch fill panels and 1/16 inch per foot slope is provided in Figure 2b.

Finally, crickets are an integral part of a tapered insulation system and are commonly used in two-way systems. Crickets can divert water toward drains and away from curbs, perimeter walls, and roof valleys. The two factors that must be considered in the design and installation of crickets are slope and configuration. The general “rule of thumb” is that for a full diamond cricket the total width should be between 1/3 to 1/2 of the total width. The wider the design of the cricket, the more you utilize the slope in the field of the roof, which improves the drainage efficiency.

Crickets typically have diamond or half-diamond shapes. (See Figures 3a and 3b.) However, kite-shaped and snub nose crickets can also be configured to accommodate specific roof designs. To keep water from remaining on the cricket surface, the design needs to have a sufficient slope (generally, twice the slope in the adjacent field of the roof). NRCA provides guidance regarding cricket geometry (see “The NRCA Roofing Manual: Membrane Roof Systems: 2019”).

Tapered insulation systems offer a cost-effective solution to achieving positive slope and improved drainage in new roof systems and roof replacement applications. An adequate rainwater management strategy that includes both proper drainage and elimination of ponding water is critical to the long-term performance and durability of a roof system. In addition, proper design, detailing, and installation of products must be an integral part of a tapered roof system design. For more information, consult with a polyiso insulation manufacturer who provide guidance, design assistance, and technical information regarding tapered insulation systems. In addition, the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) publishes technical bulletins to help navigate the process of designing a tapered system. PIMA’s Technical Bulletin #108 on Tapered Insulation Systems can be found at www.polyiso.org/resource/resmgr/Tech_Bulletins/tb108_Mar2017.pdf.

About the author: Marcin Pazera, Ph.D., is the Technical Director for Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). He coordinates all technical-related activities at PIMA and serves as the primary technical liaison to organizations involved in the development of building standards. For more information, visit www.polyiso.org.

Speaking of Education…It May Be Back to Class for Contractors

It’s no surprise that almost all states require general contractors and some subcontractors to register with regulatory boards and pass a qualifying exam in advance of bidding, contracting, and certainly physically undertaking construction work. That’s not new. However, there is an emerging trend towards requiring general contractors, and even some subcontractors, to participate in continuing education. Depending on the jurisdiction, some contractors and subcontractors are now statutorily obligated to complete a certain amount of continuing education — similar to what has been historically required only of doctors, lawyers, and accountants — to maintain licensure.

For instance, this summer, North Carolina became the most recent state to impose continuing education requirements for general contractors. Effective January 1, 2020, general contractors will be required to complete 8 hours of continuing education per year. Because roofing contractors in North Carolina performing work in excess of $30,000 are required to be licensed as general contractors, they will now be subject to the new continuing education requirements.

This recent legislation and its impact on the roofing industry raises questions about what is required for roofing contractors nationwide. Does roofing require special licensure and registration or continuing education? The answer is entirely dependent on the jurisdiction where the work is to be performed.

The following states currently require licensure for roofing: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

Other states don’t require licensure per se but do require roofing contractors to register. For instance, Oklahoma requires roofing contractors to register with the Construction Industries Board. Failure to register is a misdemeanor, and registration and endorsement as a commercial roofing contractor requires 4 hours of continuing education every 36 months. Similarly, Idaho does not require a state license, but requires roofing contractors to register with the Idaho Contractors Board.

As seen in Figure 1, even among the states which require continuing education, the requirements vary greatly both in the amount and type of education required. For instance, Florida law requires contractors holding a roofing license to take 1 hour of wind mitigation methodologies as part of the 14 annually required continuing education hours. In Massachusetts, construction supervisors within the roofing industry are required to take 2 hours of continuing education in code review and four one-hour courses in topics of workplace safety, business practices, energy, and lead safe practices.

Figure 1. Licensing and continuing education requirements by state.

Finally, in those states which don’t require licensure or continuing education, some industry groups have developed self-regulation. These industry groups are aimed at consumer protection and seek to secure public confidence in the roofing industry. In Georgia, which does not require a state roofing license, the Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Georgia (RSMCA) provides a voluntary licensing program. Similarly, Kentucky has no license requirements for roofing contractors. However, the Kentucky Roofing Contractor Association (KRCA) is a nonprofit and professional organization which certifies roofing contractors. To obtain and maintain KRCA certification, roofing contractors must complete 10 hours of continuing education per year.

But just because a state legislature or professional association has not enacted regulations necessitating continuing education does not mean contractors are free from such requirements. While not mandated by the state itself, many cities have imposed their own directives. States such as Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania each contain at least one municipality that compels contractors to take board-accredited continuing education courses. For example, Idaho Falls, Idaho, requires 8 hours of continuing education.

Regardless of where you are engaged in the practice of roofing contracting, it is imperative that all contractors exercise due diligence and review and comply with all state and local regulations before undertaking any project.

Contractors and trades are seeing a rise in regulation through the government by way of mandated continuing education courses. Do you think contractors should be required to take continuing education classes? Is this a necessary void that needs to be filled by the government intervention or is this just another example of unnecessary government regulation? Tell us what you think.

About the author: Lindsey E. Powell is an attorney with Anderson Jones, PLLC practicing in North Carolina and Georgia. Questions about this article can be directed to her at lpowell@andersonandjones.com. Special research credit is given to Kyle Putnam, Juris Doctor candidate and summer law clerk with Anderson Jones, PLLC.

Author’s note: This article is intended only for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice.

OSHA Education and Training Requirements For Contractors

Many licensed contractors have been getting “on-the-job” training for years — some, since they were working on jobsites as young laborers. But what formal education and training are required for contractors? The short answer is that it differs slightly from state to state, but no one can escape OSHA.

Perhaps the best-known training requirements for contractors are those set forth in the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) and the regulations OSHA enables.

OSHA permits individual states to develop and enforce their own occupational safety and health plans, statutes, and enforcing agencies as long as the states meet federal requirements (29 U.S.C. § 667), so many contractors may be more familiar with their state’s occupational safety and health act than the federal. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, jurisdictions with their own federally-approved plans governing both public and private employers are Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. (Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New York, New Jersey, and the Virgin Islands have plans that apply only to public employees.) State laws must be “at least as effective” and stringent as OSHA.

In most of these states, and in states that simply follow the federal OSHA requirements, construction-industry employee training is required to comply with the federal requirements set forth in 29 CFR 1926. California, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington have more stringent requirements than the federal rules.

What Training Does OSHA Require?

The Department of Labor’s regulations contained in 29 CFR 1910 and 29 CFR 1926 give employers numerous “accident prevention responsibilities.” These responsibilities specifically include the duty to train each “affected employee” in the manner the standards require. The regulations specifically require training for employees on topics including scaffolding, fall protection, steel erection, stairways and ladders, and cranes. Both federal and state courts interpret OSHA training requirements; state courts interpret them in states with their own laws but look to federal decisions for guidance.

Court decisions indicate that training requirements are interpreted broadly. For example, in 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit evaluated 29 CFR § 1926.21(b)(2)’s requirement for employers to instruct each employee in the “recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions.” The case, Modern Continental Const. Co., Inc. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, involved vertical rigging in a tight working space during an underground project involving submerging a section of highway. The operation resulted in a fatality. The court found that the employers’ duty “is not limited to training for hazards expressly identified by OSHA regulation” and that employers are obligated to instruct their employees in the recognition and avoidance of “those hazards of which a reasonably prudent employer would have been aware.” The court recognized that while the training does not have to eliminate hazards, the training must focus on avoiding and controlling dangerous conditions.

Furthermore, merely holding or sponsoring training courses may not be enough to comply with OSHA; the regulations require employers not only to ensure training but also to ensure that each affected employee has received and understood the training. The District of Columbia Circuit emphasized this requirement in Millard Refrigerated Services, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor. The Court upheld a citation against an Alabama company operating a refrigerated storage facility after an anhydrous ammonia leak even though the employer claimed it didn’t know that its employee didn’t understand the training and therefore wasn’t wearing a respirator.

Decisions like this make it incumbent upon employers to recognize and anticipate hazards and ensure that employees have the proper education and quality training to handle them.

Penalties for Training Violations

Employers’ duty to train is worded as a duty to its individual employees: “The employer must train each affected employee in the manner required by the standard, and each failure to train an employee may be considered a separate violation” [29 CFR 1926.20(f)(2)]. The statute and regulations do not explicitly state the penalty for failure to give required training; penalties will depend on the facts of each case. OSHA violations generally fall into one of four categories: willful, serious, repeated, or other-than-serious. According to the Department of Labor, the current maximum penalty is $13,260 per serious violation and $132,598 per willful or repeated violation.

Courts have upheld steep penalties for certain training violations, particularly for repeated failure to train employees. For example, in Capeway Roofing Systems, Inc. v. Chao, a roofing contractor was fined $6,000 for failing to train an employee on fall protection. (The Secretary of Labor also assessed other fines against the contractor for failure to comply with rules on fall protection, personal protective equipment, and other regulations.) The court reasoned that the fine for failure to train was appropriate, though relatively high, because it was a third “repeat” violation. Additionally, in some states, certain OSHA violations, especially willful and repeated violations, can subject employers to criminal liability.

About the author: Caroline Trautman is an attorney with Oak City Law, LLP, based in Durham, North Carolina. Questions about this article can be directed to her at caroline@oakcitylaw.com.

Author’s note: This article does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice on any particular scenario. For specific advice, consult with an attorney licensed in your state.

3 Best Practices for Communicating During a Crisis

From jobsite accidents to employee or management misdeeds, no business is immune from crisis situations — including the roofing sector. Contractors, manufacturers, distributors, and stakeholders throughout the supply chain do their best to safeguard against crisis situations and hope such events will not occur. But of course, hope is not a strategy and even the most stringent procedures cannot guarantee a crisis will not damage a business’s operations or its reputation.

As with many aspects of managing a business, advance consideration and planning can help minimize the consequences of a crisis situation. Have you asked yourself, “What would I do if a crisis situation threatened my business and the media/social media were at my door?”

A good place to start is by understanding not all crisis situations are the same. Most crises fall into one of two categories: “sudden” or “smoldering.” As the name implies, a sudden crisis arises without warning. Industrial accidents, terrorism, workplace violence and acts of God are all examples of sudden crisis situations. There is little time to prepare in these events and they are more likely to generate the public’s sympathy. In contrast, smoldering crisis events generally emerge over time and present problems not generally known that could generate negative public sentiment if they become public. Examples of smoldering crisis situations include business concerns such as audit findings, drug use by an employee, board mismanagement or a potential regulatory violation. A smoldering crisis may rapidly evolve into a sudden crisis if the news becomes public on the news or social media. As opposed to sudden crises, smoldering crisis events are rarely viewed positively.

Three Keys to Crisis Communication

Regardless of whether a crisis is sudden or smoldering, communication is imperative. A crisis communications plan can help manage either type of crisis. The plan should outline a central spokesperson to deliver all messages and include specific processes for who within the organization to contact in the event a team member is contacted by the media. While the details of a crisis management plan are beyond the scope of this column, every crisis management plan requires communication. When crafting crisis communications, three “best practices” can be applied to most situations. These practices are:

1. Tell the truth. Rarely are all of the facts readily available as a crisis situation unfolds. Yet members of the media are trained to “demand the facts” as news is still breaking. Obviously, trade secrets, confidentiality agreements and legal issues typically limit what can be disclosed. And the reality is, many times an organization simply does not know all of the details surrounding an unfortunate event. As such, it can be tempting to refrain from making any statement during a crisis situation or uttering the words “no comment.” But evasiveness naturally breeds suspicion. While organizations should never speculate during a crisis, they can share some truths about what they are doing.

A good technique to use in these situation is the “why plus what” approach. For example, “While not all of the facts are clear based on the investigation underway at the site of the accident, we are cooperating with first responders and posting updates on our website.”

The “why plus what” approach is a very useful technique for communicating without speculating or refraining from comment. Using this approach, spokespersons explain why they cannot elaborate and follow up with what they can share right now. For example: “While I can’t speculate about the root cause as research is still underway, what I can tell you is (approved statement).” A classic example of this technique used by reporters covering unfolding stories is, “While the details are still emerging, what we do know is ¼”

2. Tell it fast and with empathy. Not only is it important to tell the truth (what you can tell) quickly, but it is important to be prompt in response and empathetic to those affected by the situation. History provides some unfortunate examples of the damage a company can suffer from delaying its response, or not responding empathetically. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska is a good example of the damage that can arise when timeliness and empathy are lacking. The company waited a full week to address the media following the oil spill. When the executive did speak in a TV interview, he delivered a strong impression that he didn’t really care about the environmental impact of the disaster, committing a huge PR cardinal sin — lack of empathy.

More than 20 years later, after another oil disaster, another oil executive committed a crucial PR blunder. (Google “Tony Hayward get my life back.”) BP former CEO Tony Hayward conducted a number of high-quality media interviews before complaining halfway through a conversation with a reporter, “There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. I’d like my life back.” His comment demonstrated a lack of sympathy for the many lives lost and the hundreds of jobs lost due to the incident’s aftermath throughout the affected area. Unlike the Exxon leader’s interview, BP’s situation unfolded in the social media era, amplifying the damage of the negative PR as the unfortunate interview went viral.

In any crisis situation, it is imperative for an organization’s leadership to put themselves in the shoes of those affected. This means thinking like a customer — and just as important talking like a customer — personally affected by the situation. Leaders should acknowledge the affected parties’ fears and frustrations. In stark contrast to the corporate speak of a prepared statement, empathy acknowledges that the speaker feels and shares the customer’s pain. Effective crisis messages project empathy and concern while explaining clearly and succinctly what can be shared. The best examples also provide perspective by framing the issue in context. For example, “Each year, our operations produce XX metric tons of product without incident.”

3. Tell your employees first. Despite all the efforts companies invest in developing messages for their website and official statements, a company’s people are usually the most sought-after and trusted source of information. Thus, in crisis situations, it is a company’s people who will receive questions from customers, friends and family about what’s “really” taking place. Employees must be a key audience in any crisis management plan. The plan should educate employees on the issue and provide clear information on how to direct inquiries to the appropriate spokesperson.

Whether it’s a sudden or smoldering crisis, the crisis communications best practices outlined above coupled with a crisis management plan can help members of the roofing community navigate the challenge.

About the author: Susan Miller is director of public relations at 5MetaCom, a marketing agency for companies selling technical and scientific products, including building products.

Industry Q&A: SPFA’s Professional Certification Program Benefits Contractors and Consumers

Kelly Marcavage is the Certification Director for the SPFA. Photo: Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance

A Conversation With Kelly Marcavage, SPFA’s Certification Director

Q: What is the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance’s Professional Certification Program?

A: The SPFA Professional Certification Program, which we sometimes refer to as PCP, is a certification that allows spray foam pros to demonstrate to the world they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job properly. It’s an opportunity for contractors and suppliers to stand apart from everyone else. With a certification, they have proven they understand spray foam and how to use it safely and effectively, which maximizes performance.

Q: What role do you feel the Professional Certification Program plays in the roofing industry?

This photo shows certification testing being conducted in the field. Photo: Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance

A: Certification is key for roofing because roofing, in general, is highly specialized. Not only do installers need to consider best practices in the spray application of the product on the roof, but they also need to consider that the roof often houses mechanical equipment, solar panels, drainage components, skylights and other items, thus foot traffic is inevitable. Also, roofing is an exterior component to the structure and needs to withstand rain, wind, storms and debris. A certification helps a contractor, installer and supplier prove their knowledge and understanding of all of these key factors. Certification also gives those hiring these parties peace of mind.

Q: What are some of the things that SPF roofers should know about the certification and testing?

A: Unfortunately, in the industry we sometimes see folks who tout that they have professional spray foam experience when they don’t. Certification is a way to prove you have the credentials. Our certification isn’t a fly-by-night program. Participants are verified by a third-party, ISO well-respected organization.

Q: What’s new with the certification program this year?

A: The biggest thing this year is we are taking the certification on the road. We have officially launched a road show. While our program has always been designed to be available at the grassroots level with PCP testing and field exams offered regionally, we are taking it one step further. Our road show features a trailer full of all components needed to give a field exam. We are traveling the country testing and helping people meet the qualifications to become certified.

Q: For those that want to participate in the road show, how can they get involved?

A: For companies that want to get involved, they should contact me. I am the certification director and can be reached at certdirector@sprayfoam.org. I will guide them and help them get onto the calendar for the road show. As far as contractors, I would suggest they start by visiting www.sprayfoam.org and reviewing our calendar of events. We will keep that updated as we add new road show dates and opportunities with links and info on how to sign up.

Q: Other than the road show, what other ways can roofing professionals participate?

Certification demonstrates the applicator has the knowledge and skills to do the job properly and provides a high level of consumer confidence. Photo: Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance

A: We provide opportunities throughout the year, with testing provided at supplier facilities across the country. The program is also available annually to attendees of our Sprayfoam Show Convention & Expo, which draws approximately 1,400 people. Next year’s event will be held in Pasadena, California, February 11-14. Typically, field exams are the first two days of the event. We are fortunate that the Sig Hall Memorial Scholarship Fund has donated the cost of the Sprayfoam Show’s field exams allowing contractors to participate free of charge. We hope this sponsorship will be available again in 2020.

The most accessible way to participate is through our remote testing platform. Live proctors administer exams and remotely monitor participants. For master installer level certification, participants still need to take an over-the-shoulder evaluation, but we have many field examiners willing to travel to the jobsite and oversee the exam there.

Q: I know you have different categories, or levels, for the certification. Do you plan to introduce any additional categories in the near future?

A: We do have four certification levels for the contractor. These four levels are offered in both SPF Roofing and SPF Insulation certifications. The levels include the Assistant, Installer, Master Installer and Project Manager. We are currently developing a Consultant certification that will launch by year-end. This is designed for those that consult in the industry, whether it be as inspectors or witnesses who provide testimony in the judicial system. This is an important addition to our certification offering.

Q: Is there anything else that you want to tell us about the certification program?

A: I would stress that it is ideal to complete your certification now, before you find yourself on deadline trying to complete an RFP that requires it for consideration of the job. We frequently receive calls from frantic contractors in this predicament. While we can often accommodate them in time, provided their qualifications are in place, this isn’t the ideal way to become certified.

The other thing to note is that certification provides a high level of consumer confidence in the person or team they are hiring. Not only is the program standards-based, but if a certified individual doesn’t comply with best practices on the job, there are ramifications. They may even lose their credentials.

Contracts Can Provide Protection From Escalating Prices

If you work in the construction industry and you aren’t familiar with the impact of price escalation, chances are you are about to learn.

It’s hard to make sense of the so-called “trade war” between the United States and China, and the economic forces in play are complex. But in essence, reports are that the events of past months are continuing to impact building costs in the United States.

President Trump and his administration have imposed tariff increases on certain Chinese goods in a claimed effort to boost the United States’ economy. As several news outlets have reported, Trump started with a 10 percent increase on certain Chinese products; then on May 10, he announced an increase from 10 percent to 25 percent on products like electronics, clothing, and seafood. A May 14 Los Angeles Times story reported that the tariffs had already added $1 billion – a number that could increase to $2.5 billion – to the annual cost of housing construction due to price increases in Chinese granite, cement, vinyl floor coverings, waferboard, tile, and stainless steel. Some roofing materials, like aluminum, are projected to cost more in the near future, too. (See, for example, BBC News’ May 10 article “Trade wars, Trump tariffs, and protectionism explained.”)

The Los Angeles Times’ prediction was that cost increases would be borne by American consumers investing in housing and construction. But the only thing that truly allocates risk of price increases will be contract terms.

And this gets us back to why we care about material price escalation and how players in the construction industry can assert some control over what are, at their core, factors beyond their control.

None of us can control what President Trump says, does, or tweets, or what China does in response. But if parties think about these issues before entering into construction contracts, they can at least know who will bear the risk of these types of increases and try to prepare accordingly. Although factors like federal economic policy and market forces can impact material prices, who bears the cost of these increases in a commercial setting is solely dependent on the parties’ contract terms. 

Assessing Risk in Pre-Existing Contracts for a Fixed Price

If standard-form construction agreements, like AIA or ConsensusDocs contracts, are a guide, then contractors and subcontractors will probably bear the risk of material price increases in contracts to which they are already a party, assuming they are contracts for a fixed sum or guaranteed maximum price. (Of course, cost-plus agreements will give contractors much more potential to recover for price increases.) Although price escalation can be addressed in provisions on contingencies — percentages of the contract value set aside for unpredictable changes in the work — unless the agreement specifically mentions price increases or escalation, contractors probably are not entitled to an increase in a fixed contract sum due to price escalation.

To understand the legal significance of a price escalation claim, it is important to understand the distinction between changes in scope of work and changes in price. Nearly all standard-form construction agreements provide for how “changes in the work” will be handled. For example, AIA A201 (General Conditions of the Contract for Construction) provides in §7.3.1 that “the Owner may … without invalidating the Contract, order changes in the Work within the general scope of the Contract consisting of additions, deletions, or other revisions, the Contract Sum and Contract Time being adjusted accordingly.” However, because per §1.1.3 the term “Work” includes “all … labor, materials, equipment, and services provided or to be provided by the Contractor to fulfill the Contractor’s obligations,” contractors will not be entitled to an increase in the contract sum unless there is a change in the scope of the work or materials themselves.

Addressing Price Escalation in Future Contracts

Because price escalation claims don’t fit neatly into most standard provisions on change orders or equitable adjustments, parties who want to reduce their risk with respect to material price increases should explicitly address the issue when negotiating contracts. Contractors can do this by considering cost-plus contracts, inserting a price escalation clause into fixed-price agreements, or simply increasing the contract sum in an attempt to protect themselves in the event of price increases.

Cost-plus contracts could be a useful tool for contractors hoping to shift away, or more evenly distribute, the risk of higher material costs. While most cost-plus agreements will still contain a guaranteed maximum price that potentially won’t cover builders for all price increases, these arrangements still probably give contractors greater ability to pass cost increases to owners than fixed-price agreements. Because these contracts charge owners for the cost of labor and materials plus a fee, owners can also benefit from any decreases in material costs. Negotiating a guaranteed maximum price may also allay owners’ concerns about rising costs.

In fixed-price agreements, parties who want to address material cost issues should likely insert clauses that either condition the contract sum on material costs existing at the time of the contract, or clauses explicitly entitling them to make a claim for additional payment in the event of price increases. Such provisions might be more appealing to owners if they similarly entitle owners to the right to reduce the contract amount in the event of material price decreases.

If price escalation clauses are based upon time, they should specifically state the date through which the contract sum can be guaranteed. They should then specify how a contract increase, if any, should be imposed so that the parties will have a clear understanding of how a new price will be calculated. If provisions are contingent not on time but on the amount of the price increase, they should address how much of a cost increase is actionable — for example, a clause could apply to material cost increases of 3 percent and above — and should explicitly state what documentation is required in order for the contractor to make a claim for increases. In anticipation of making such a claim, contractors should consider preserving documentation of prices as they exist at the time of bid so that they can prove that price increases in fact occurred later when they are asserting a claim for price escalation. With both types of clauses, providing cost savings for the owner in the event of a price decrease, or placing some limit on the ability to claim an increase, could be crucial to making a deal with owners.

About the author: Caroline Trautman is an attorney with Oak City Law, LLP, based in Durham, North Carolina. Questions about this article can be directed to her at caroline@oakcitylaw.com.

Author’s note: This article does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice on any particular scenario. For specific advice, consult with an attorney licensed in your state.

Collective Efforts Support Stability and Growth of U.S. Building Industries

On April 3-4, more than 400 roofing industry stakeholders participated in Roofing Day in D.C. 2019 to share the industry’s message with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Photo: PIMA

Andrew Carnegie once said that “the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives” is the “fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” This spring more than 500 professionals from the roofing and insulation industries brought their individual efforts together in unified support for policies that promote the continued vitality of our nation’s building and construction efforts by participating in organized visits with Congressional representatives in Washington, D.C.

In April, amid the profusion of cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin, groups of roofing contractors, front-line workers, state and regional roofing associations, roofing manufacturers, distributors, and design- and roof-consulting professionals participated in close to 300 Congressional meetings as part of the industry’s annual Roofing Day events. They were followed in May by contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers from the insulation industry representing the majority of states undertaking more than 100 meetings on Capitol Hill with lawmakers.

Roofing Day

Roofing Day in D.C. 2019 offered an opportunity for the entire roofing industry to advocate in support of three key issues:

  1. A robust buildings component for infrastructure legislation.
  2. Immigration reform that meets the roofing industry’s workforce needs.
  3. Expanded workforce training incentives.
Chad Burman of Carlisle Construction Materials (second from left) meets with lawmakers and fellow industry executives on Roofing Day in D.C. Photo: PIMA

Investment in U.S. public infrastructure could be a robust catalyst for sustained economic growth while also helping to create jobs. Congress currently is considering comprehensive infrastructure legislation for transportation, water and energy infrastructure needs. This includes the Public Buildings Renewal Act of 2019, S. 932, cosponsored by Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), which would provide tax-exempt financing to the private sector via partnerships with the U.S. government to repair and maintain numerous federally owned buildings around the country. Roofing Day advocates noted that the average public school building is at least 40 years old and the current backlog of maintenance and capital projects represents an annual funding gap of $45 billion.

According to the first-quarter 2019 Commercial Construction Index from USG Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 70 percent of building contractors are missing project deadlines because of the skilled labor shortage. Roofing Day advocates discussed the need for a visa system, such as the system proposed in the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act, that would support the hiring priorities of roofing and similar industries. This system would ensure employers undertake vigorous recruitment to hire U.S. workers first, and enable job creators to obtain the foreign-born workers needed to meet demand and grow their businesses.

Insulation Industry National Policy Conference

In May, 110 contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers from the insulation industry representing the majority of states met on Capitol Hill with lawmakers to discuss issues and ideas for harnessing the resources of the insulation industry to tackle some of the country’s most pressing problems.

Justin Koscher of PIMA and Paul Coleman of Huntsman Corporation were on hand for Roofing Day in D.C. Photo: PIMA

With the constant stream of news stories highlighting the human costs and economic consequences of a changing environment, momentum is growing behind solutions that can address these environmental challenges in ways that strengthen U.S. economic productivity and competitiveness. To that end, advocates worked to build enthusiasm for federal action on policies that optimize the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings. Raising standards for new residential, commercial, and industrial buildings and retrofitting older ones can lead to long-term savings through better building performance.

Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings is a practical way to help the environment, create jobs, and save money. Boosting energy efficiency alone can provide 40 percent of the necessary greenhouse gas emissions reductions to meet global targets and the work to implement these standards will lead to jobs in manufacturing, distribution, and installation. These improvements will save consumers billions of dollars in energy costs annually — money that can be invested back into the U.S. economy.

Congressman Paul Tonko (fourth from left) meets with insulation industry representatives during the Insulation Industry National Policy Conference in May. Photo: PIMA

But these policies would do more than save energy; they’d also provide buildings and the people who use them with added protection from severe weather events. In 2017 alone, there were $317 billion in losses from U.S. natural disasters, jump-starting discussions on creating more resilient buildings and communities. Optimizing insulation for an energy efficient building envelope improves performance post-disaster or during prolonged events like heat waves or extreme cold. And the investment would pay off — it’s estimated that designing buildings to the 2018 I-Codes would deliver a national benefit of $11 for every $1 invested. 

  • Some legislative tools to promote these improvements include:
  • Strengthening oversight of new rules for disaster preparedness and response.
  • Supporting investments in building science research.
  • Recognizing buildings as infrastructure, including critical structures such as hospitals and schools.
As part of the Insulation Industry National Policy Conference, Congressman Paul Tonko of New York speaks on “Charting the Federal Response to Climate Debate.” Photo: PIMA

Our environment is a constructed one — roads, buildings, offices, schools, houses and hospitals are all part of the infrastructure that sustains a productive economy. The strength of the construction industry is interwoven with the success of society overall. In tough economic times, companies retrench, grinding construction projects to a halt and leaving builders in a difficult position. This slowdown has a ripple effect through related industries, as architects, building suppliers, electricians, engineers, and retailers, feel the pinch from halted projects. As tax revenues fall, governments delay infrastructure investments and defer maintenance, using stopgap measures to keep things running without fixing underlying problems or proactively planning the replacement of systems already beyond their life-expectancy.

A proactive approach to strengthen the construction industry does more than give a hand to hammer wielders and mortar spreaders. It provides stability that flows through the economy as projects move forward and the web of interconnected industries support each other in providing necessary services. Policies that support a robust building industry boost economic growth, improve energy security and independence, and advance U.S. global competitiveness.

About the author: Justin Koscher is president of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). For more information, visit www.polyiso.org.