Log in


Overson: Practical steps to improve roofer safety this year


Roofing work is an essential service for residential and commercial property owners across the Valley. Someone’s home or office literally cannot function without a roof over it. The high demand for roofing services means a limited number of contractors are trying to meet a large demand.

More roofers are working on roofs this year so it is important to remember that a roofing contractor occupies one of the most dangerous civilian professions in America. Over 50 roofers are killed in roofing accidents every year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only loggers deal with more workplace fatalities every year. The prevalence of workplace accidents and fatalities means that improving safety must always be a mission of roofing companies. Don’t be passive about safety standards. Here are a few practical steps to improve roofer safety this year.

Continuing and engaging education

The best way to promote good safety standards is education, and unfortunately too many roofing companies don’t take safety education as seriously as they should. Often the safety conversation is a brief two-minute chat before a job or not having the conversation at all. Ideally, every roofing company would hold weekly safety meetings that are educational and engaging. Every week should have a new and relevant safety focus to go over. For example, summer is here which means we are having lots of discussions about heat exhaustion and how to avoid it. With monsoon season on the way now is also a good time to discuss roofer safety when dealing with slippery surfaces.

The key is conducting engaging safety meetings. This means doing more than just having management talk with the team. Pose hypotheticals to them and ask them questions about how a safety process is supposed to be implemented on a job site. Make sure your team knows your safety standards. Make sure they know how to use the equipment and test them on that equipment use.

Wearing a safety harness is something a roofer knows how to do, but still have them practice applying one while not on a job site. You and your team should treat safety meetings like school. Repeat the same safety info constantly so your team retains it and make team members who missed the meeting reschedule so they can also get the information.

Don’t ever avoid safety meetings. Most roofers don’t do enough of them so in all likelihood more is better. Conduct more of them and make them more engaging for you and your team.

Team of two or more

Roofers working alone on a job is sadly an all too common occurrence in our industry. Working alone exceptionally increases the risk of serious injury. Roofers no longer conducting solo jobs would dramatically decrease workplace injuries.

You can’t fix the whole industry, but you can ensure that your roofing team isn’t conducting solo roofing jobs in 2024. Ask your roofers to work in pairs no matter how small the job is. I know that this can often be hard for small roofers who are trying to complete a backlog of jobs, but losing a team member to injury is going to lead to worse outcomes. Take extra time to complete your jobs and have two people work on them. Always have at least two people work a job.

Hire risk-averse superintendents

Competent superintendents are essential for any roofing team and it is important that you only hire superintendents with a proven safety record. This is why I recommend you promote superintendents from within your roofing company. You can see someone’s commitment to safety in real time when they work for you. Don’t promote the guy that has too many writeups. Promote the guy who has little to no writeups. A good superintendent will spend time with his team on safety initiatives, inspecting PPP gear, and writing up contractors breaking safety rules. Hire competent superintendents who take safety seriously.

Practice good safety standards off the roof

Safety doesn’t just apply when your team is on a roof. It is imperative you make sure your team is being safe on the ground as well. This means making sure tools and debris are safely secured in the back of your vehicle. It means your team is being safe driving to and from the job site. Roofing companies often don’t teach this type of safety and it is important. A good way to ensure your team is driving safely is to install GPS on all company-owned trucks. These can monitor where your team members are and most importantly how fast they are driving.

Maintain your fleet vehicles

Poorly maintained vehicles in your fleet are a safety risk to you and the people you share the road with. A truck with low tire pressure can cause a tire to blowout and the truck to crash, while old and cracked windshields can obstruct vision. Assign someone on your team to do routine truck inspections and schedule maintenance when needed. Inspecting your trucks will prevent accidents and save money on costly emergency repairs.

Roofing is a dangerous job which is why Arizona roofers need to improve their safety strategy. Create frequent and engaging safety courses, have your guys work on teams no matter how small the job is, and be safe driving to and from a job site. Taking these steps will help prevent accidents that will hurt the health of your roofing company.

Overson Roofing is a roofing contractor in Mesa. Go to https://www.oversonroofing.com.

opinion, letters