Take Strides to Create a Safe Workplace
by Darin Douglas, CEO, Lowe Roofing, Inc., & president, Merge 3 Technology, Inc.
(Editor’s Note: Douglas began roofing in 1997 after graduating from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. Lowe Roofing, Inc., is a family-owned roofing company that has been in operation since 1975 in South Dakota and Wyoming. Merge 3 Technology, Inc., helps contractors track and control their safety processes and efforts on a daily basis. Douglas also served on the WSRCA Board of Directors for nine years and was the chair of the Safety and Health Committee and Low-Slope Committee.)
If you have a roofing company, you better have a safety program in place. Workplace safety is a growing issue and requires consistent effort to control. If you have lacked in your company safety effort, the following could help you get on the right track.
First and foremost, you need to have a company safety policy in place and make sure that everyone on your team is trained on its contents. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it must communicate your safety culture, rules, and goals. Strong backing and enforcement from management is a need for any safety policy to be effective. Make it a management goal to address some part of your safety program monthly in person with your team. There are many examples of company safety plans online, so do some research and find one you can adapt to your company.
Regular safety meetings with your team are a pillar of any quality safety program. The more you meet and talk safety, the more it becomes ingrained in your personnel’s daily efforts. There are many ways to accomplish this, but try to add some variety so the message is communicated from different people and at different times. Your leaders need to be talking safety with your team as much as possible, which could be either daily or weekly. The goal is to touch on something at the beginning of each day or week that will keep your team engaged and thinking about safety. These talks should be short and to the point, so as not to overcomplicate the message. Monthly company-wide safety meetings are also a great addition to a safety program. Each month, management should engage the team in a broad scope safety meeting, addressing various safety challenges your company may face.
Proper training comprises another large chunk of your company safety program, as training can be the difference between having an accident and not having one. When you are training your team on using new equipment, operating a new tool, or overall project logistics, safety should be the first item discussed. Safety training is an involved process that requires diligence and accountability from management. Make sure you use appropriately certified trainers and document all training done with the trainers’ signatures. Also, check all local and state safety codes regarding training rules and policies in your area.
If you have your meetings and you are keeping up with your training, then your next step is safety inspection. A consistent inspection program will not only help keep your team safe, but it will also reinforce the lessons taught through meetings and training. Your inspection process doesn’t have to be complicated or lengthy, but it does need to be consistent. Come up with an inspection form that can be used by anyone in your company to inspect the safety of your projects. There are many to choose from online that you can adapt to make your own, both observational and checklist. Observational reporting allows the inspector to communicate their findings from their perspective, thus keeping them far more engaged in the inspection process. Be cautious of heavy checklist inspections, because they can promote a complacency that can skew the data.
Now that your safety policy, meeting, training, and inspection protocols are in place, the only thing left to do is implement them. Accountability starts at the top with management and carries down to every team member in the company. If you consistently maintain your safety program and use your inspections to evaluate how your program is working, you will make significant strides towards creating a safe workplace and sending your team home safe every night.