Safety Corner: Consistency Is Key

Prioritizing Roofing Safety in the Year Ahead

by Stephen Zasadil, WSRCA safety consultant, president, SNK Services LLC

(Editor’s Note: Stephen Zasadil spent ten years as a safety of flight operator with the United States Navy before beginning his career as a safety compliance consultant in 2009. He currently works with companies across the United States to provide OSHA compliance information, documentation, and training.)

As we step into a new year in the roofing industry, it’s crucial to reflect on the lessons learned and the progress made in the realm of safety. While topics like safety programs, fall protection, severe weather awareness, and safety apps have gained significant attention, it’s essential to recognize that these are not mere checkboxes to be ticked off. Instead, they are critical components of a broader commitment to safety in the roofing sector. In this article, we will explore how consistency in safety programs is the foundation for a safer roofing industry in the upcoming year.

The Importance of Safety Programs

Safety programs have become integral to the roofing industry. They serve as the framework for ensuring that safety practices are not just lip service but are integrated into every aspect of roofing operations. These programs encompass everything from training and hazard identification to emergency response plans and ongoing evaluation.

In the year ahead, roofing companies must continue to invest in robust safety programs. It is not enough to have them in place on paper, they must be consistently implemented and adhered to by every worker on every job site. Consistency starts with clear communication of safety protocols, regular training, and accountability measures. When safety programs become a part of the company culture, accidents and injuries can be significantly reduced.

Fall Protection: More Than a Harness

Fall protection has long been a focal point in roofing safety discussions. While the use of harnesses, guardrails, and safety nets is essential, it’s critical to understand that fall protection is more than just the equipment. It’s about adopting a mindset that prioritizes preventing falls at every stage of a roofing project.

Roofing professionals must remember that safety begins on the ground. Before ascending to the roof, thorough risk assessments should be conducted, and appropriate fall protection measures should be in place. Additionally, routine inspections and maintenance of fall protection systems are essential. Fall protection equipment must be regularly inspected, maintained, and replaced when necessary to ensure its effectiveness.

Severe Weather Preparedness

Weather conditions can change rapidly, posing significant challenges to roofing workers’ safety. As we look ahead to the upcoming year, being prepared for severe weather events should be a top priority. This includes monitoring weather forecasts and having clear protocols in place for halting work when adverse weather conditions approach.

Furthermore, having designated shelter areas on job sites can be a lifesaver in case of sudden storms or lightning. Ensuring that all workers are educated on the signs of impending severe weather and the appropriate actions to take can make a significant difference in safety outcomes.

Safety Apps Are Tools, Not Solutions

Safety apps have gained popularity in recent years as tools for promoting safety in the roofing industry. These apps offer features such as hazard reporting, real-time communication, and safety checklists. However, it’s important to remember that these apps are tools, not solutions in themselves.

In the year ahead, roofing companies should utilize safety apps as part of their safety programs but not rely solely on them. The effectiveness of these apps depends on consistent usage and follow-up action. Workers must be encouraged to report hazards and incidents promptly, and management should be proactive in addressing the issues raised through these platforms.

Consistency Breeds Success

Consistency is the linchpin of a safer roofing industry. Without it, even the best safety programs, fall protection measures, severe weather plans, and safety apps can falter. Continuous education and training are essential to ensure that all workers are up-to-date on safety protocols and best practices. Open and transparent communication between management and workers is vital for addressing safety concerns and making improvements. Establish clear expectations for safety performance, and hold all team members accountable for adhering to safety procedures. Encourage workers to provide feedback on safety measures and listen to their insights for potential improvements. Keep comprehensive records of safety incidents, near misses, and corrective actions to learn from past experiences. Safety should be a top-down commitment. Leaders must set the example by consistently following safety protocols and encouraging others to do the same.

As we embark on the upcoming year in the roofing industry, let’s not lose sight of the fundamental truth: safety is not a one-time initiative or a mere checklist of tasks. Safety programs, fall protection, severe weather plans, and safety apps are valuable tools, but their effectiveness hinges on consistent application and adherence. Consistency in safety programs is the best way to achieve consistency in the field, protecting the lives and well-being of roofing professionals. Let’s commit to making the roofing industry safer in the year ahead and beyond through unwavering dedication to safety.