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5 Easy Safety Tasks to Get Your Program Started

Construction workers in hard hats and vests looking at blueprints
Part 1 of A Good, Better, Best Series on roofing safety.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports roofing as the trade with the highest fatality rate of all construction trades and the fourth highest of all occupations.

Yet many roofing companies don’t have a company health and safety policy. 

Safety can feel confusing and overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be that way.

You don’t have to design and implement an entire program all at once.

In fact, starting small and being consistent is your best bet at gaining compliance from your team.   

Here are five easy safety tasks to get you started without a huge time and financial commitment:

Conduct and Document Weekly Toolbox Talks

Toolbox talk sometimes referred to as a safety meeting, is the base of any good safety program.

It is a two-part process consisting of a safety lesson followed by the documentation of what was discussed, with whom, when and where. 

If you can only find time for one safety task a week, make it a toolbox talk.

Conduct them with every field worker, on different and relevant safety topics. 

You can deliver these talks yourself if you can make it to each site every week, otherwise, it is okay to assign this task to the supervisor or foreman of each crew.

In fact, the more a crew is assigned safety responsibilities, the more likely they are to take ownership of them and put them into everyday practice. 

Show Up Unexpectedly Onsite

This one is about as basic as it gets. If you want to really know what is going on at your job sites, you have to SHOW UP.

The more your crews realize the boss may show up at any time, the more likely they are to consistently comply with the rules. 

You can send supervisors to the site to do random checks, but the higher you are up the chain of command, the higher levels of compliance you will start to notice.

These visits don’t have to be negative or unwarranted either.

Dropping off coffee or running them more material is perfectly good covers for your arrival and will be appreciated by the crew as well.

Recognize Safety Adherence and Infractions 

EVERY TIME you see a safety infraction, you need to act on it. 

The moment you let something slide, your employees will notice and likely won’t comply next time.

This may mean you are very busy, to begin with, but if you are consistent, it will improve. 

Give your employees fair warning that you are implementing a disciplinary program and outline what the consequences are if they are caught making unsafe choices.

Many companies have a written policy that escalates based on the number and severity of the infraction, from verbal, to written to suspension.

Just as important as acting on the negative is remembering to reward good behavior.

Rewards can be as simple as a high five; just knowing that the boss has noticed them is often enough. 

Teach and Train Employees 

Ideally, you should be running formal training sessions with a professional who is qualified to certify your crews in specific safety tasks.

However, you can get started today by spending time on-site to teach proper, safe techniques when using equipment, material, and machines.  

This is especially important when it comes to infractions.

Every infraction that is handed out should be tied to some sort of training or resolution.

You can give the individual the training or use it as a teachable moment for the entire crew. 

There is no harm in hosting a toolbox talk on the topic, even if you’ve already done one that week.

The more serious the offense, the more formal the training should be, and that may mean the employee needs to sign up for a course off-site before their return to work.  

Build a Safety Culture

safety culture will develop naturally to some degree as you incorporate the first four tasks; however, the best chance of success you have is when owners and management make a commitment to safety and then walk the talk. 

If your workers know how seriously you take safety, over time they will do the same.

But the first time you prioritize production over safety, you will undo everything you had accomplished.

They will get the message that safety is just a show, and what really matters, in the end, is the money. 

We can understand the pull that you may feel to focus on results ahead of safety. It’s natural.

You want your business to succeed, and that means completing work and getting paid. 

When it comes to your focus on safety though, you have to play the long game.

Once you are completing all five of these tasks regularly, you will be well on your way to safer job sites and less risk of incidents.

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