Although building construction is one of the most important industries to the infrastructure of society and the economy, roofing is one of the most dangerous jobs a person can choose. The risks of falling, electrocution, getting struck by an object or getting caught in the wrong place are rampant in the construction industry. These incidents are known as the “fatal four,” and were the cause of 58% of construction worker deaths in 2014.
With this great risk of death or injury, it is essential to enforce construction safety precautions and standards from start to finish of a job. Many companies accomplish this by writing a big manual, which, while useful in training employees, goes on to collect dust. The key to ensuring your roofers are safe from harm is to cultivate a culture of safety from every angle of business. Fostering a sense of roofing safety in this way creates the habits of cautious practice and smart operations.
In this blog post, we’ll outline the ways we’ve found useful in developing and implementing an underlying emphasis on roofing safety.
It Starts at the Top
Sixth-generation roofing contractor Andy Wray says the best way to begin a safety revolution within a company is to start at the top. If the leaders of a company show a strong respect and insistence for safety, being a part of everything their employees do, the value trickles down.
Leaders who practice what they preach and put safety as their number one priority in everyday tasks show their employees it doesn’t take much effort to deploy safety. Managers who remind workers to be safe rather than reprimanding them when they are lapsing, approach safety with more concern and care. Presenting safety as restricting rules creates a sense of inconvenience. Instead, it’s better to treat safe practices as the only way to work.
Being clear about a culture of roofing safety protects every employee from day one, keeps a company compliant with regulations, and helps avoid accidents, fatal or otherwise.
Plan, Provide, Train
If you are looking for a good place to start with your safety guidelines to create a safe workplace, you can follow the national authority on how to keep workers safe, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is a go-to resource to understand the values of safety, and their three-point approach to fall prevention is a great example of the core elements to consider when creating an effective safety plan:
- Plan. Planning ahead for any job is just common sense and a good business practice. But always make sure that safety precautions are included in your project layout. Try to anticipate the potential hazards of the job so you can procure the proper equipment for avoiding the dangers of those hazards. Then, build in the cost for all the necessary items to keep people safe.
- Provide. Building in the cost for proper equipment to each project allows you to provide the exact materials for fall protection and other precautions. Before you can provide equipment, it’s important to know which ladders, scaffolds, harnesses and personal fall arrest systems are appropriate for which jobs. Use this insight to provide every job with the right material.
- Train. Once all the equipment has been chosen and acquired, you can train your workers to use it correctly. This is a crucial step in safety culture. Training is where employees learn the majority of the nuances of being a safe construction worker.
The ultimate goal should be to use these fall prevention guidelines as a launching point for instituting your own safety principles and practices for a fully comprehensive policy.
Considering Other Factors
Beyond fall precaution, electrocution and unexpected accidents, there are other important factors to consider. Heat stress, hydration and physical wellbeing of your workers should also be part of your safety culture. Implement a good system for taking breaks, keeping muscles and bones protected and staying hydrated. Ensure your workers are aware of their own health, know their limits and can take the rest and resources they need to stay healthy.
You can also use a reward system for job safety. Positive reinforcement of safe behavior and practices will go much further than negative punishment and will propel your culture of safety to becoming an intrinsic custom of how you do business.
Safety Always Matters
Starting at the top; planning, providing and training; and considering other factors such as hydration – These sensible steps create a culture of safety.
It all starts at the top and continues down through all levels of an organization. Every task, at every level within an organization, must drive the concept that SAFETY MATTERS!