The Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) has released its new Guide for Inspecting Metal Building Systems, a resource intended for use by individuals who are responsible for contracting, performing, and reporting the inspection tasks related to the construction of a metal building project.
This guide is available for online purchase, in print or PDF format, at www.techstreet.com/mbma. The audience consists of general contractors and erectors, design professionals, building officials, owner’s representatives, and others who are involved in project delivery.
Input for the guide was provided by MBMA members as well as representatives from the Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association. The result is a publication designed to help eliminate misunderstandings and lead to shorter punch lists, efficient project delivery, and quality construction of metal buildings.
Depending on the project and jurisdiction, building code and contractually required inspections may be necessary, as well as other inspections such as owner acceptance and insurance evaluations. The scope of the guide focuses on inspecting newly constructed metal building systems, including primary framing, secondary framing, and metal roof and wall cladding. It also overviews standards on materials common to the building envelope, such as windows, doors, skylights, and insulation materials.
Dustin Cole, PE, serves on MBMA’s Technical Committee and chaired the task group that developed the MBMA handbook. He presented information on this publication at the 2016 METALCON convention. He discussed the different qualities of metal buildings, focusing on the function of components that comprise metal building systems and inspection requirements found in the building code.
“As metal building projects and building codes continue to grow more complex, inspection becomes more necessary and expected. Knowing what is required and what to look for when performing an inspection helps reduce delays and decreases costs,” says Dan Walker, PE, associate general manager of MBMA. “The Metal Building Manufacturer Association’s Guide for Inspecting Metal Building Systems will benefit anyone who is responsible for evaluating new or existing metal building construction.”
The guide can be purchased at this website for $60 for non-members and $36 for MBMA members.
Dealing with an OSHA inspection requires some knowledge of the Washington, D.C.- based Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s history and its background. OSHA is part of the U.S. Department of Labor and was created through the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which was signed into law on Dec. 29, 1970, by President Richard M. Nixon. Before OSHA, there were nearly 6,000 workplace fatalities annually, 50,000 deaths from workplace-related illnesses and 5.7 million non-fatal workplace injuries. Injuries alone cost American businesses more than $125 billion.
OSHA is responsible for worker safety and health protection, and it has made a significant difference in the safety and health of workers in all industries. Since its inception, OSHA helped cut the work-related fatality rate in half; worked with employers and employees to reduce injuries and illnesses by 40 percent; and reduced trenching and excavation fatalities by 35 percent. To accomplish these goals, OSHA encourages employers and employees to reduce workplace hazards and implement new safety and health programs, as well as improve existing ones.
Consequently, all U.S.-based businesses covered by the OSH Act are subject to inspection by OSHA compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs). Most inspections are conducted without advance notice. Because OSHA cannot inspect all 7 million workplaces it covers each year, it seeks to prioritize its focus on those that present imminent danger situations—hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm.
Keep in mind that OSHA considers an employee on a roof over 6-feet high without fall protection imminently dangerous.
Other high priorities include fatalities and catastrophes, which are any incidents involving the deaths or hospitalizations of three or more employees. These catastrophes must be reported to OSHA within eight hours. In addition, employers must report any employee hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye within 24 hours. Complaints, allegations of hazards or violations also receive high priority. Referrals of hazard information from other federal, state or local agencies; individuals; organizations; or the media receive consideration for inspection. Follow-ups—checks for abatement of violations cited during previous inspections—are conducted by the agency in certain circumstances. Planned or programmed investigations will sometimes be aimed at specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries or illnesses.
Roofing is considered a high-hazard industry. Roofing job sites are highly visible and working roofers can be seen from several blocks away; therefore, possible infractions or violations are much more visible. As such, it is likely OSHA may come to visit your job site.
When a CSHO comes onsite, the first thing he or she is supposed to do is announce himself or herself to the management representative (the owner, superintendent, foreman or safety consultant). At this point, the CSHO will show his or her credentials—these credentials are similar and carry the same weight of law as those of an FBI agent. CSHOs also have a working relationship with other governmental agencies. An OSHA compliance officer can call in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, local Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if he or she suspects other regulatory infringements.
At this point, the CSHO will conduct the opening conference and explain why this workplace was selected for inspection and describe the scope of the inspection. The employer will choose a representative to accompany the officer during the inspection. An authorized representative (often a union representative, someone designated by employee consensus or even the complainant) of the employees has the right to join the inspection. Regardless, the officer will consult privately with a reasonable number of employees during the inspection. The company representative may not be allowed to participate in these consultations. (Learn more in an OSHA Inspections Fact Sheet.)
Following the opening conference, the compliance officer and representatives will walk through the portions of the job site covered by the inspection, looking for hazards that could lead to employee injury or illness. The compliance officer also will review workplace injury and illness records and posting of the official OSHA poster.
During the walkthrough, the compliance officer may point out some violations that can be corrected immediately. Although the law requires these hazards be cited, prompt correction is a sign of good faith on the part of the employer. Compliance officers try to minimize work interruptions during the inspection and will keep confidential any trade secrets they observe. The only time a CSHO can stop a job is if an employee is in immediate danger.
As a professional safety consultant, I have been involved in numerous OSHA inspections. During these inspections, I collect information. I listen to what the CSHO has to say and take copious notes. I know the rules OSHA must follow and I note every possible mistake or shortcut the officer may make during the information-gathering process. While doing this, I am cordial with the officer; I speak politely and respectfully and as little as possible. The information I gather can sometimes be used at the informal hearing to get some of the citations lowered or, if OSHA is mistaken or has not followed its own protocols, removed completely.
In the meantime, I make sure my client immediately fixes any issues that OSHA has cited us on. Just like OSHA, I want all employees to be able to work safely and without the fear of injury and illness.
We at Greenawalt Roofing Co. understand how busy the winter months can be. We also know that with a backload of work from the fall combined with cold or extreme weather conditions and shorter days, even the simplest jobs can take twice as long. Unfortunately, customers do not always know this and expect their issue to be fixed as soon as possible.Help your customers by educating them about how to prevent and recognize potential problems before cold weather arrives. You can communicate with them directly, mail them a flyer or make a personal connection by email. Let them know how they can do a simple and safe roof inspection, or schedule an appointment for your team to do a professional and more thorough one. Finding trouble areas before they turn into full-fledged problems will not only save your customers money in the long run, which they will appreciate, but it can also help them avoid an emergency during the winter months.
Here are a few things you can tell your customers to do to be proactive for the upcoming winter months:
1. Do a quick inspection of the overall roof condition. Depending on the pitch of your roof, you may be able to see these things from the ground or by using binoculars. If you find some issues or cannot safely view the majority of your roof, we recommend you call us or a licensed roofing company for a thorough inspection to see what can be done before the harsh winter arrives.
Look for any damage that may have been done since the last time you took a look, and keep an eye out for some of the following warning signs:
- Damaged shingles
- Missing shingles
- Loss of granulation
- Decayed shingles
- Wind damage
- Broken or cracked shingles
2. Check wall or step flashing. Flashing are the metal coverings over the joints or seams where your roof intersects with other exterior home systems. Flashing prevents water from reaching the underlayment and from penetrating the exterior envelope and affecting your home’s ceilings and walls. If your flashing is unsealed, degraded, missing or damaged, then water will find a way underneath the metal strips. Although generally not a catastrophic system failure, it often shows up only after it is too late to prevent, so it is important to make sure these are intact for the winter.
3. Take a look at your skylights. This is another place where you should make sure the flashing is intact. Piled up snow and icy rains can put a lot of pressure on skylights and the flashing around their seals.
4. Review your chimney and other vent-pipe flashing. These can also become quick channels for water to enter the home. Accumulated snow slows water drainage off the roof, providing extra time for water to enter the home through even the smallest hole or crack, so it is important that these flashing are intact prior to the start of winter.
5. Inspect your attic. Your attic is a safe way to look for roofing issues, assuming there is a safe and easily accessible entrance into your attic space. Be sure to look for any water damage, dark spots, sagging wood and even daylight coming through the roof decking.
6. Clean your gutters! Gutters clear of debris do a great job of diverting water away from your house and protecting your home and foundation from the effects of water pooling. Although it is important year round to keep your gutters cleaned, it is especially important during the winter months. Because autumn has just ended, you probably have more leaves in the gutters than any other time of the year.
Try to keep your gutters clean throughout the winter, as well. They can easily become clogged. If your gutters are clogged, water (melted snow) begins to freeze and expand, which can cause severe damage to the fascia, causing the entire system to fail. The water also could start to freeze underneath the shingles, creating an ice dam.
7. Watch for ice dams. Winter’s most common roofing issues are ice dams. Ice dams form when snow sits on the roof and goes through a melt and freeze sequence. As the snow melts and flows down the roof and reaches the freezing surface below, it refreezes, causing the ice dam to form, which can damage shingles and underlayment. Seeking a release, the water backed up behind the ice dam seeps into cracks in the home’s exterior, leading to structural damage and mold growth.
Unfortunately, ice dams are a result of several factors and often require a licensed professional to remedy the problem. Inadequate insulation, poor ventilation and a combination of cold temperatures and sunny days lead to ice dams. You can prevent ice dams by ensuring your roof is adequately ventilated.
Helping your regular customers understand the steps they can take to avoid winter emergencies will give them peace of mind going into the colder months and, hopefully, allow you to focus on cold-weather emergencies. Plus, you may find them even more willing to send work your way when things calm down because of the trust you have built with them.
Westminster, Colo.-based Accurence Inc., a company that merges inspection, pricing and CAD imaging into a single, automated solution for the roofing industry, will provide its ScopeAssist tool to Wayne, N.J.-based GAF Master Elite and Certified contractors. The exclusive alliance will help contractors deliver roofing estimates with greater accuracy and detail to retail and disaster-recovery consumers. With ScopeAssist, contractors can take aerial CAD images and Xactimate pricing and combine them into one mobile device-enabled solution.
“We are thrilled to be working with GAF. Their contractors are some of the best in the industry and ScopeAssist will give them a distinct competitive advantage by delivering fast and accurate estimates to insurance companies and the mutual customers they serve,” states L.C. Nussbeck, vice president of sales, Accurence.