Safety Tips for the New Year

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For roofing and construction professionals, keeping crews and team members safe can feel like a full-time job. The high risks associated with the industry are widely known, and as a business owner or manager, it is critical that you stay on top of the latest safety standards, trends, and technologies to ensure that you are providing the safest conditions and environment for your employees.

To help get you started and focused on safety in the new year, here are a few basic tips and ideas to keep in mind:

  1. Train Your Team – From the most experienced foreman to the youngest roofer on the job, everyone can benefit from safety training. The truth is that just like any skill, safety requires practice to stay sharp and maintain a solid knowledge base. For this reason, regular safety trainings and refreshers on policies and procedures should be a part of your annual planning.
  2. Review Your Policy – The new year is the perfect time to review your current safety plan, policies, and procedures. Are your documents and forms valid and updated with the latest safety standards? Are all team members familiar with your policies including equipment/tool use and storage, reporting guidelines, checklists, PPE, etc.?
  3. Train Your Office Team – Don’t limit training to just your field employees – Safety should be part of your corporate culture. Trainings including CPR, First Aid, and AED are equally as important on and off the job site, as well as hazard communication, emergency and evacuation plans, illness/injury reporting and more.
  4. Check Equipment– Even the highest quality equipment will endure and show its fair share of wear and tear over time. For this reason, it is critical that you review your inventory to ensure that all equipment is in good condition and replace and/or upgrade any equipment that is outdated or in need of repair.
  5. Get (and Stay) Organized – At the start of the new year it is not uncommon for people (and businesses) to purge and organize. In addition to reviewing and organizing equipment and tools in storage, consider conducting a Toolbox Talk or meeting to address proper organization and tool storage on the job site. Simple practices can sometimes require a gentle reminder such as ensuring that no tools are lying around, and that lights and power tools are turned off and unplugged when not in use. Through proper organization and storage, you can prevent unnecessary damage of tools and avoid potential injuries, as well as allow easy navigation and access to tools which can save time on the job.
  6. Have an Emergency Response Plan – An emergency response plan provides direction to your team on what they should do when emergencies like natural disasters, fire, hazardous material spills, or other related incidents occur. In addition to appropriate policies and documentation, it is helpful to have a dedicated team that is responsible for managing emergency crises, answering questions, and reporting potential hazards, quality issues, etc.
  7. Set up Safeguards – One way to ensure safety on the job site is by using engineering controls such as barriers, fences, and safeguards; such controls will assist in isolating people from hazardous areas. If you don’t already have fall protection equipment, rail, and skylight safety guards, contact Brauner Safety Services for the latest in safety technology and to learn more about equipment that provides security.

While the above listed tips and areas of focus are just a small part of a comprehensive safety plan, you can learn more about improving safety both on and off the job site by contacting Brauner Safety Services. Brauner Safety is your one-stop shop for all training, gear and equipment needs. Gain access to top-quality and specialized safety gear from trusted and reputable industry brands, and keep crews safe and confident on the job by sharpening their safety skills and gaining industry-trusted certifications.

Preparing Workers for Winter Weather Risks

As the beloved holiday classic song says, “it’s the most wonderful time of year”. And while many of us will be preparing our homes and offices for the holiday cheer, it is also a time of year to pay special attention to some seasonal safety basics.

While Brauner Safety Services is based in Florida and does not face extreme cold-weather conditions, training and consulting services are provided throughout the U.S., and many clients are currently facing or preparing for cold weather that can pose serious challenges for outdoor workers, including construction and roofing professionals.

According to OSHA, winter weather can expose outdoor workers to frostbite, hypothermia, and cold stress, all of which can be fatal, and while OSHA does not have a specific standard that covers working in cold environments, employers have a responsibility to provide workers with employment and a workplace which are free from recognized hazards, including cold stress.

For this reason, OSHA has dedicated a section of its website to educating and preparing employers for cold-weather hazards, offering resources and guidelines to keep you and your team safe. OSHA’s “Winter Weather: Prepare, Equip, Train” campaign and pages offer the latest safety information that any employer can use to keep team members safe during the cold winter months.  Here are just a few important and common areas covered that employers should consider when reviewing or creating their own winter weather safety plans:

  1. Winter Driving – At Brauner Safety Services, driving safety training is offered, and there are specific considerations related to cold weather. Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they are certainly able to promote safe driving and prepare workers to recognize hazardous conditions, while understanding ways to mitigate risks. In addition to recognizing seasonal roadway risks, employers should implement a vehicle maintenance program to ensure vehicles are fully operational and properly equipped for cold temperatures; such preparations include vehicle safety checks, emergency kits, snowstorm driving procedures, hazard communication planning and more.  For information about driving safely during the winter, visit OSHA’s Safe Winter Driving handout.
  2. Removing Snow from Roofs and Elevations – Workers should be aware of the potential for unexpected hazards due to cold weather conditions. A surface (including rooftops) that is weighed down by snow should be inspected by a competent person to determine if it is structurally safe for workers to access it, as it may be at risk of collapsing. Additionally, snow-covered rooftops can hide hazards such as skylights, and if the appropriate rails and guards are not in place, it can easily be overlooked, leading to a fall through. Employers can protect workers from these hazardous conditions in a number of ways including using snow removal methods that do not involve workers going on roofs, as well as determining the right type of equipment (ladders, aerial lifts, etc.) and personal protective equipment (personal fall arrest systems, non-slip safety boots, etc.) for the job. For more information, see OSHA’s Hazard Alert: Falls and Other Hazards to Workers Removing Snow from Rooftops and Other Elevated Surfaces
  3. Work Zone Traffic Safety – Although preventative measures can be very effective, according to OSHA workers being struck by vehicles or mobile equipment continue to lead to numerous work zone fatalities or injuries every year. Cold weather conditions can lead to drivers losing control of their vehicles more easily, and for this reason, it is critical to properly set up work zones with the traffic controls identified by signs, cones, barrels, and barriers. Additionally, workers who are exposed to vehicular traffic should wear the appropriate high visibility vest at all times. You can learn more from OSHA by visiting: Work Zone Traffic Safety and Highway Work Zones and Signs, Signals, and Barricades (OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page).
  4. Cold Stress – While cold stress is a common risk, it can be prevented. The important thing to keep in mind is that cold stress is not limited to frigid and extreme conditions alone; cold stress and its impacts can vary across different regions. For example, in regions that are not accustomed to winter weather, near freezing temperatures are considered factors for “cold stress,” while other cold-weather regions have different guidelines for identifying cold stress conditions. Wind also plays a factor as increased wind speed can cause heat to leave the body more rapidly (wind chill effect). Wetness or dampness, even from body sweat, also facilitates heat loss from the body. In short, cold stress occurs by decreasing the skin temperature, and eventually the internal body temperature, leading to the body being unable to properly warm and regulate temperature. When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related illnesses and injuries may occur. Types of cold stress include but are not limited to trench foot, frostbite, and hypothermia. As published by OSHA, risk factors for cold stress include: Wetness/dampness, dressing improperly, and exhaustion; predisposing health conditions such as hypertension, hypothyroidism, and diabetes; poor physical conditioning.

For more information, see OSHA’s Cold Stress Safety and Health Guide.

While the above listed areas serve as a good place to start preparing your crews for cold weather, they are just a small piece of a proper cold weather preparedness plan. To access the complete list of safety guidelines and resources covered by OSHA, visit their Winter Weather Safety page here. To have a consulting session to review your current safety plan, create a new one, and improve your team’s safety training practices and certifications, contact Brauner Safety Services.

Options for Skylight Protection Now Available

Did you know that Brauner Safety Services offers skylight protection? In partnership with Safety Rail Company, you can now choose from several options for protecting your skylights.

Why do you need skylight protection?

According to the CDC, fatal falls and serious injuries may result from inadequate guarding and fall protection for work around skylights and roof and floor openings.

Additionally, based on OSHA’s guidelines, 29 CFR 1910.23(a)(4), it requires that skylights in the roof of buildings through which persons may fall while walking or working shall be guarded by a standard skylight screen or a fixed standard railing on all exposed sides.

Beyond regulations and laws, the bottom line is that you want to keep your workers and crews safe on the job.

The most dangerous skylight on a building is quite common and easily recognizable – the translucent skylight. This skylight is flush with the metal panel. It can often be difficult to see, especially if the entire roof has been painted and/or coated over. If a crew member were to unknowingly walk on top of this skylight (which frequently happens in the U.S.), it will shatter, and the person walking over it will likely fall through to the floor.

During the pre-job inspection of the roof area, contractors have an opportunity to offer this protective metal screen to customers so that they limit liability and decrease potential dangers to those who may be working or performing maintenance on their roof. The screen is clearly visible and eliminates accidents; if someone is distracted or simply not paying attention, they can still easily walk across the skylight when the appropriate guard (SRC Skylight Guard) is in place.

So, what are the options for skylight protection?  Here is a summary and corresponding product sheets for the skylight fall protection options that are currently available through Brauner Safety Services:

  1. SRC SKYLIGHT GUARD – The SRC Skylight Guard is an OSHA compliant fall protection screen guard for skylights. The screens simply sit on the roof over the entire skylight without any mechanical penetrations. Heavy-duty construction prevents contact with skylight lens in the event of a fall. Installation takes 15 minutes.
  2. SRC SKYLIGHT SCREENS – The SRC Skylight Screen is an OSHA compliant fall protection screen. The screens compression-fit to the aluminum frame of the skylight without any mechanical penetrations. Heavy-duty construction prevents contact with skylight lens in the event of a fall. Installation takes 15 minutes.
  3. SRC SKYVIEW BARRIER – The SRC Skyview Barrier is a 42” tall OSHA compliant fall protection guard for skylights. This freestanding railing barrier sits on the roof without any mechanical penetrations. Installation takes 10 minutes with this one-piece design.

To learn more about skylight protection and the product that is best suited for your job site or roof, contact Brauner Safety Services.

CERTA Training is Critical to Safety & Success

Image of visible flame vs. the flame under an infrared heat detector – High heat extends far beyond what the eye can see.

As any roofing professional knows, safety must be a top priority on the job in order to be successful. And while many of us would prefer a quick and easy solution for safety, the truth is that proper safety is multifaceted and requires dedication to learning and acquiring the skills necessary to identify risks, as well as understand the tools and resources that are available to mitigate those risks.

Today, we are taking a closer look at CERTA training, and why it is a critical part of a roofing company’s safety strategy.

What is CERTA Training?

According to NRCA (National Roofing Contractors Association), CERTA is an acronym for the Certified Roofing Torch Applicator program. It is a training program designed to teach roofing workers how to safely use roofing torches.

CERTA training demonstrates how proper roof system configuration design and application techniques can result in fire-safe installations. In 2003, insurance industry representatives approached the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) to address concerns about increasing incidents and losses occurring from roofing workers’ torching activities. There was a clear need for focused safety training addressing torching activities, and as a result, the CERTA program was developed.

The current CERTA program provides the best practices and newest industry requirements for torching activities.  The requirements are met through a certification program where authorized trainers such as Brauner Safety Services deliver effective behavior-based training to roofing workers.  There is simply no comparable training program available in the roofing industry. 

Why CERTA Training?

Working with roofing torches comes with high risks, and it is vital that crew members have a comprehensive understanding of those risks and how to avoid injury. If you want to better understand why CERTA training is so important, simply ask the insurance experts – As stated by Rob Foote, President of Furman Insurance:

Furman Insurance highly recommends Jim Brauner and his firm to all of our roofing clients! We manage the insurance programs for over 200 roofing contractors throughout the country and Brauner Safety Service’s hands-on in-person training has virtually eliminated the frequency of torch fires. Torch Fires are the single largest root cause of property damage and business interruption claims. These types of claims can severely cripple a roofing contractor as it pertains to their brand impact and explosive increases on their future insurance burdens. Brauner Safety’s approach to personal engagement and communication with the CERTA student is an essential and important part of his CERTA training.

CERTA training by Brauner Safety Services demonstrates how proper roof system configuration design and application techniques can result in fire-safe installations. The full-day program trains roof system installers on the safe use of roofing torches used to apply polymer-modified bitumen roofing products.

Upon completion of Brauner Safety’s CERTA training program, participants will be able to:

  • List personal protective equipment requirements for torching activities.
  • Describe basic first-aid procedures associated with torching activities.
  • Explain proper steps and procedures for handling propane gas cylinders.
  • Identify components of a torch assembly.
  • Demonstrate safe assembly, lighting, and use of torch equipment.
  • Identify the key elements of comprehensive pre-job inspections.
  • Recognize hazardous areas.
  • Demonstrate safe torching techniques near hazardous areas.
  • Explain post-job fire watch and other safety-related duties.

From a business perspective, CERTA training just makes sense.  The program offers business owners multiple benefits including but not limited to insurance savings, hazard/liability control, and improved employee safety.  CERTA training lowers the risk for roofing contractors, assures compliance with insurance underwriting guidelines and reduces exposure of personal and corporate assets.

To learn more about CERTA training programs and to schedule your next session, contact Brauner Safety Services today.

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