Why Hiring a Commercial Roofer with a Reputable Safety Program Is Good Business Sense

Posted by McEnany Roofing on Jan 31, 2018 11:15:00 AM


As a landlord, property manager, or CEO, you have to consider the overhead of actually ensuring you keep a roof over your head. However, it’s critical that you don’t simply choose a contractor because they’re inexpensive compared to the competition. You also need to protect your investment and the business itself, and you can only do that if you select a commercial roofer with a reputable safety program.

What’s Considered Reputable?

A reputable commercial roofer is going to work hard to ensure its employees and clients are safe throughout the construction process. This often requires specialized staff, like a Risk Manager and a Field Safety Manager. It also requires extensive training to work with certain materials, as well as various types of safety equipment for every worker on the project. This extends from activities you would expect, like being capable of handling a crane or aerial work platform. Or things you might not consider as someone outside the roofing industry, like how ladders need to be placed. A reputable roofer is also going to abide by federal and state regulations put in place to protect employees and clients alike.

Why Does a Safety Program Matter?

A complete safety program might not seem important on the surface if you’re simply trusting seasoned professionals doing efficient work to stay safe. Certainly, safety on a job site seems like the obvious thing to do. However, not all contractors see it this way and try to make more by failing to meet certain standards. Consider this: The property manager for an automotive manufacturing plant hires a contractor that almost sounds too good to be true, but offers the lowest bid and the shortest turn-around. The roof has been damaged by a major storm, but the facility manager doesn’t recognize the potential hazards or know what a safe job site looks like. The contractor’s employees don’t use (or don’t know how to use) proper safety equipment, something goes wrong, and one of the workers falls onto production equipment.

Already, this is a terrible situation for everyone involved, but it’s about to get worse for the automotive company. Because no insurance was in place, the company or the owner of the company could be held liable for the damages, including medical costs for the injured worker. This example is somewhat simplified, but it can become even more complicated if utilities (e.g., power, water, or sewage lines) are damaged in the process. The owner could be held liable for all damages and held fully financially responsible. Hiring a roofer that doesn’t have a reputable safety program adds exponential risk to you for the project.

What Should I See in a Safety Program?

First and foremost, the roofer should be ready and willing to discuss their safety program in your first meeting, and if it’s formal, they should have paperwork available to prove their claims. Other elements you should expect to find include:

  • Licensing
  • Coverage by a reputable Insurer, especially fall protection
  • Common safety certifications, such as CPR and other first aid
  • Industry safety certifications
  • Training for hazard communication
  • Training for accident prevention
  • Training for fire prevention
  • Training to use specialty equipment, like aerial platforms
  • Training to use construction equipment, like cranes and welding torches
  • Training to use personal protection equipment.

How to Identify a Commercial Roofer with a Reputable Safety Program?

Obviously, you need to do more than count on the roofer’s word about their program. Fortunately, there’s a number of things you can do to confirm the roofer is as safe as they claim to be.

Confirm They’re Insured.

The roofer ought to have the proper paperwork to prove they’re insured, but ensure their plan will cover both the roofing employees and your own employees and equipment. Follow up with the insurance company to be sure what the roofer showed you is legitimate.

Ask about Their Experience Rating Modifier (ERM).

The ERM is used to indicate when a roofer has loss experience that’s better or worse than the average in order to incentivize safety. If the roofer is performing well, the ERM adjusts the premium cost on workers compensation insurance in their favor, saving them a good deal of money. On the other hand, if the roofer performs poorly, the ERM adjusts the premium against them, and they have to pay more. Ask for the roofer’s ERM for the past 3 years and look for an ERM that’s less than 1.

Check Their Certifications.

Given the regulations that surround safety, equipment, and materials, roofers will have a number of certifications that show their compliance. Federally, OSHA provides safety certifications, conducts inspections, and cites contractors that violate regulations.

You should also see if the roofer is a member of a reputable roofing association, such as the National Roofing Contractors Association. While these groups are non-profit trade associations, not regulators, membership means the roofer meets a certain standard.

Look for Experience, Awards, and Financial Health.

Choose a roofer that’s had plenty of experience doing commercial work, since they’re more likely to respect the need for safety. It also means they’re likely to have been recognized for their excellent service, and any roofer would be proud to share this type of success. Balance this by looking at the financial history; a healthy company that’s shown growth is more likely to be doing things right, and less likely to have been involved in any lawsuits.

Ask for References and Testimonials.

Few things speak louder than a satisfied customer, but dissatisfied customers are definitely one of them. A roofer should readily provide you with the information you need to get the real story about how they work.

Ask for Specifics about Their Safety Training.

The basics of a roofer’s safety program is probably listed on their website, but be sure they’re capable of and comfortable with discussing safety concerns. They should be ready to answer any question you have.

Know Who Will Oversee the Job.

A qualified safety representative, such as a Field Safety Manager, should be inspecting and monitoring the roofing project for safety compliance until the job is done. They should also be ready to answer any question you have and make you feel confident about hiring their company.

Consider a Third-Party Consultant.

Since you’re not in the roofing industry, you may want assistance selecting and managing a roofer, or to absolutely confirm compliance with current standards per your contract. This could add to the costs of the overall project, but it may be worth the investment.

Saving a little money or time now can leave you and your company at risk, and the potential consequences far outweigh the rewards. Your company’s building is worth the investment to have your roofing done right the first time and hire a commercial roofer with a reputable safety program. Be sure you examine our Safety Program, and feel free to contact us at any time with questions about our OSHA certification, accident and fall protection, ladder safety training, hazard communication training, and more. You can also view a timeline of our association memberships, awards, and more.

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Topics: Commercial Roofing, Roof Safety

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