As I was saying …

The safety value proposition


An NRCA member recently remarked that the quality of roof system installation, for many customers, no longer is the most important factor when selecting a contractor; rather, it's the contractor's commitment to safety.

That's rather remarkable. If he's right, the implication is the type of roof system and its cost become secondary buying decisions as more owners understand a single job-site accident can be devastating. And if owners don't want the risk of unsafe practices, it's incumbent on professional roofing contractors to be certain they are working safely.

Luckily, thanks to our friends at CNA Insurance, Chicago, we've been getting valuable data to help us understand best roofing safety practices. Consider just a few things we've learned:

  • Thirty-nine percent of all workers' compensation injuries occur to workers with less than one year of experience on the job.
  • Companies with annual training addressing ladder safety have a 37 percent better loss ratio than companies that don't have such programs.
  • Companies with formal fall-protection training programs have a 32 percent better loss ratio than companies without fall-protection training programs.
  • Companies that allow employees to move materials manually more than 25 feet have a 27 percent higher loss ratio than companies that disallow the practice.
  • Companies with an ineffective "return-to-work" program have a loss ratio that is 75 percent worse than companies with effective programs.
  • Companies with more than 40 percent of the workforce older than 45 years have a 48 percent higher loss ratio than those with younger workers.

And above all, what we've learned is safety training¬≠—constant, mandatory and meaningful safety training—makes a difference.

Professional roofing contractors understand all this. They are passionate about safety and simply won't allow unsafe work practices. They train constantly and understand the special risks faced by new hires. And increasingly, they present themselves to their customers as the safest contractors in the marketplace.

NRCA has an extensive library of safety training programs at your disposal. It includes a comprehensive, state-specific fall-protection program; series of toolbox talks; and (coming soon) five-module material handling program. They're all excellent, but they really are just tools to help deliver the most important message of all: Safety matters.

Bill Good is NRCA's executive vice president.

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