Safe Solutions

Disciplining safety violations

System Roofing, a union company that installs single-ply roof systems, has a written safety program with specific safety rules. Each spring, the owner, Steve, and his three foremen have a safety-awareness meeting for the work force. Periodically, Steve also provides safety-awareness information in employees' paycheck envelopes.

New employees, who are acquired from the local union, must complete the union-sponsored apprenticeship program and work with a foreman in a mentoring program for six months. Steve thought these practices created a safety-awareness culture at System Roofing.

One winter, Mark was the foreman on an industrial job with a three-person crew. The crew noted the surface of the roof was frosted and slippery. Mark informed his crew to stay off the roof until he returned from the shop with a torch to melt the frost.

When Mark left, two crew members went on the roof against Mark's instructions; they slid off the 14-foot- (4-m-) high roof. The other crew member called 911, and by the time Mark returned, two ambulances had arrived. Mark was surprised the workers had disobeyed his instructions because they had been adequately trained and knew about the roof's condition.