Safety During the Holiday Season

If you think that the holiday rush doesn’t apply to safety in construction, think again.  More crowds, more traffic, travel and altered work schedules can make for changes on the road, and on the job site.  In addition to commercial roofers experiencing altered schedules for certain facilities and structures that they may be occupying during business hours, suppliers and distributors may have more traffic on the floor for sales that are increased due to consumer demand.

With the increase in merchandise sales during the holiday shopping season comes an increase in potential hazards for workers in wholesale, transportation and even the construction industry. Just as with any time of year, roofing and construction professionals must carefully assess risks when establishing access points and transporting materials on the job site; such risks increase on job sites where there is a rise in package delivery, crowds and building occupancy.

For this reason, OSHA has published a multitude of resources to prepare business owners for the changes and rushed conditions that can result from the holidays.  Those resources include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Crowd Management Safety Guidelines – OSHA encourages employers to adopt effective safety and health programs to identify and eliminate work-related hazards, including those caused by large crowds that may result from holiday sales and seasonal retail events. While industry professionals are most likely not involved in planning their own seasonal sales events that will draw such crowds, commercial clients may hold anything from holiday flash sales to seasonal celebrations; for this reason, it is important to ensure that your crews are aware of any changes in set up, job site access, hours of operation or noise restrictions that may result from holiday events, as well as safety precautions and route planning to take should increased local traffic and crowds be a possibility.
  2. Secure Seasonal Workers – With the increased demand for services or even closing jobs before the new year, seasonal workers may be required both in the office and out in the field. OSHA has published its concerns for how some employers may use temporary workers to avoid meeting all of their compliance obligations under the OSH Act and other worker protection laws.  It has identified that many temporary workers are placed in a variety of roles, including the most hazardous jobs; with limited safety training and/or explanation of their duties, temporary workers are more vulnerable to workplace safety and health hazards and retaliation than workers in traditional employment relationships.  Therefore, it is essential that employers and staffing agencies work together to comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.
  3. Safety Guides for All Industries – In response to holiday specific hazards, OSHA has launched a “Holiday Workplace Safety” page on their website. While some of the resources may not apply to your specific industry or workplace, many of the resources can come in handy when discussing safety precautions with clients that may benefit from the planning required to keep their properties and visitors safe during the holiday rush.

For more guidelines and tips from OSHA on holiday workplace safety and precautions, visit OSHA’s Holiday Workplace Safety page. To secure the latest safety training for your crews and strengthen your own safety programs, policies and procedures, contact Brauner Safety Services.

Safety Precautions for Winter Months

When we think of safety threats due to weather on the job site, heat exhaustion, lighting and high winds are usually some of the first conditions that come to mind.  Especially with the exceptionally high heat that is currently being experienced in the southern region of the U.S., contractors often focus on preparing and recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion, stroke and dehydration.  That being stated, the winter months are just around the corner, and it doesn’t take arctic conditions for the cold to pose a threat to the safety of your crews.  For this reason, OSHA provides a plethora of information on cold stress and other winter weather related hazards that can be useful for any roofing and construction company.

According to OSHA, cold stress is easily prevented, but often the risk goes unnoticed.  Especially in warmer climates, cold stress is not usually factored into the equation when assessing job site safety.  Cold stress occurs by driving down the skin temperature, and eventually the internal body temperature. Once the body is at a level where it can no longer warm itself, serious cold-related illnesses and injuries can occur and lead to permanent tissue damage or worse. Types of cold stress include but are not limited to trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia.

Prevention is possible through training. Crews should know how to recognize environmental and workplace conditions that can cause cold stress, as well as the symptoms and how to treat workers.  Additionally, crews should be educated on proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, and it is the employer’s responsibility to confirm and provide uniforms when necessary to meet the climate requirements.

Employers should monitor weather conditions and the wind chill temperature so that they can properly gauge workers’ exposure risk and plan how to safely perform under daily conditions. It is also important for employers to make appropriate adjustments such as scheduling short breaks in warm areas, providing warm beverages and scheduling projects at the warmest part of the day.

As with anything in safety, prevention is key, so it is vital that Construction Managers stay informed – NOAA provides multiple ways to stay abreast of the latest weather conditions. If notified of a winter storm watch, advisory or warning, follow instructions from your local authorities.

Regardless of the season or weather conditions, safety should be a number one priority on the job.  By having a plan and ensuring that your crews are following precautions, you can rest assured knowing that your team will have a safe and productive season ahead.

For more guidelines and tips from OSHA on Winter safety and precautions, visit OSHA’s Winter Weather page. To secure the latest safety training for your crews and strengthen your own safety programs, policies and procedures, contact Brauner Safety Services.

Mark Your Calendars (and Register): CERTA Training – October 18, 2019

Brauner Safety Services will be offering the NRCA Certified Roofing Torch Applicator Training Program in just a few short weeks (October 18, 2019) in Pompano Beach, Florida.  Open to roofing contractors and their crew members, CERTA Training for roofers lowers risk and liability for roofing contractors, assures compliance with insurance underwriting guidelines and reduces exposure of personal and corporate assets.

The training that is being held in partnership with SOPREMA on October 18, 2019 will include NRCA Certification, training support, as well as breakfast and lunch.  The training session will be held at SOPREMA Pompano Beach Building (2900 Center Point Circle, Pompano Beach, FL) and will run from 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM.

CERTA Training is a vital part of the educational programming and certifications that roofers need to be successful on the job site.   The full-day program trains experienced roof system installers on the safe use of roofing torches used to apply polymer-modified bitumen roofing products. CERTA training demonstrates and teaches how proper roof system configuration design and application techniques can result in fire-safe installations.

From a liability perspective, the reduction in severity and frequency of torch claims is significant.  A severe torch claim can negatively impact and even put a roofing professional out of business for a wide range of reasons including but not limited to:
1.  Inadequate insurance limits to protect the roofing contractor’s balance sheet.
2.  Potential exposure for future garnished earnings if the roofing contractor’s insurance is not adequate to make the building owner whole.
3.  A severe torch claim that has significant property damage for a key building owner/client could cause the reoccurring revenue for the client to discontinue due to poor public relations and loss of income caused by the inability to occupy the building.
4.  If there is an insurance company policy limit for torch claims suffered by a roofing contractor, there will typically be severe budget increases for the roofing contractor’s insurance for the next five years.

By making safety and training a priority, you are providing security to your crews and your business on every job.  To take part in the October CERTA Training program, visit the program link for more information.  Registration is limited, so it is important that you book and reserve your spot in advance.  For additional information and questions, please contact Brauner Safety Services.

Hurricane Preparation for Roofing Professionals

If you are a Florida roofer, chances are that your phone is already ringing about Hurricane Dorian.  The hurricane is more than four days from impact, and panic has already begun.  From empty shelves where water and bread once sat in the grocery store to long lines at the gas pumps, Floridians have started to prepare (as of 08/29/19), and so should you and your business.

As of the latest forecast (source: Weather Channel 11:00am, 08/29/19), Hurricane Dorian is expected to strengthen to a Category 4 before hitting land (somewhere in Florida) on Labor Day (Monday 09/02/19).  As most hurricane veterans are aware, this forecast is likely to change quite a bit over the next few days, but as a roofer, you should be watching it closely and preparing as if it were coming right at you and your open jobs.  After all, roofers serve somewhat of a first responder role when it comes to property damage, and once the storm passes, phones will be ringing.  Will you and your crews be ready to respond?  Here are a few steps you can take to prepare you and your business for the upcoming hurricane and post-hurricane demand:

  1. Gas Up – By now, your trucks and fleet should have fuel topped off. Additionally, any reserve canisters/tanks should be filled.  In order to get out to your job sites and calls, you will need your trucks to be ready, and with the chance of gas stations being depleted at that time, you don’t want to take any risks.  From a safety perspective, all gasoline should be safely stored.  Check out the safety guidelines from Exxon on gasoline storage, and use only approved metal or plastic gasoline containers.
  2. Prepare Job Sites – This one goes without saying, but it is still something that every roofer and construction professional should be reminded of prior to severe weather conditions entering the area. Beyond closing open roofs, any equipment, tools, materials and machinery should be removed from all job sites.  Loose objects and materials become major hazards with heavy wind, and in order to keep your clients safe (and lower your liability), your property should be removed from your clients’ properties.
  3. Prepare Crews – From your employees to your subcontractors, now is the time to confirm their availability and readiness post-hurricane. First and foremost, you should have a system for everyone checking in and reporting their safety status.  Down power lines and trees may prevent them from getting to where they need to be in a timely manner.  This system should factor in potential power outages, satellite/internet interruption, as well as the distance between locations; it can be as simple as a call-in system, phone/call tree, and/or a form that everyone fills out in advance.
  4. Prepare Clients – With all clients, active and inactive, you are well positioned to provide storm safety resources and tips for ensuring that their homes and properties are properly prepared for high winds and heavy rain.  Use this time as an opportunity to engage your customers and provide tools to guide them through what can be a daunting, and sometimes panic-filled, process.  OSHA, FEMA, CDC and other government agencies offer checklists and hurricane preparedness advice that can benefit you and your clients, including but not limited to:

Checklist for disaster and emergency supplies kit

A worksheet and tools for building your emergency response plan

Tips for Preparing an Emergency Food and Water Supplies

Clean Up Safety Guidelines

More resources can be found online, including helpful tools for getting safety on the radar of your crews and customers.  The bottom line:  Prepare for the worst and stay hopeful for a positive outcome.  There really is no such thing as being too safe or preparing too much, so take your time getting all of your clients, crews, properties and documents in order.  With the storm following a weekend, there will be a little extra time to take the appropriate steps and be ready for meeting the upcoming demand both professionally and safely.

To learn more about how Brauner Safety Services can prepare your crews with proper safety training, including CPR and First Aid and the latest OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 now offered in English and Spanish, contact Brauner Safety Services.

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