Risk Management

Staying on top of safety

This column uses fictitious case histories to introduce important loss-control principles. The details for these case histories are not meant to represent any particular occurrence. Any similarities to living people or actual events are purely coincidental.

Door Roofing regularly installs commercial (low-slope) roof systems on schools, typically hot asphalt built-up roof systems. Although the company has not had many insurance claims, a roofing worker recently fell 15 feet (5 m) through a hole in a roof deck at a school job site. This accident should have been perceived as a warning that fall-protection regulations were not being followed and more accidents would occur if the company did not enforce safety rules.

Every year, a loss-control representative from Door Roofing's insurance carrier inspects job sites to ensure safety programs are being followed. Door Roofing always was rated average, and loss-control representatives only had minor recommendations. However, the latest inspections revealed poor work habits and sloppy job sites despite Door Roofing's written compliance with previous recommendations. Ernie, a loss-control representative, was surprised conditions deteriorated so abruptly at some Door Roofing job sites, so he visited additional projects. The same undesirable safety concerns were present at these sites, too.

At three local schools with buildings more than 25 feet (8 m) high, Ernie noted several safety concerns, such as small groups of summer-school students congregating under a roofing work area; two employees working beyond a perimeter warning line while a safety monitor was working at another end of the roof; an extension ladder tied off too short for the roof height; a partial perimeter warning line located at a crane's loading material side; fire extinguishers not readily apparent on a roof; and plugged drains on the main roof system.