Safety has always been a concern in the roofing industry, and the concept of setting up a roof maintenance division as a separate entity within a commercial roof-contracting enterprise has been around for years. How might these two seemingly disparate topics come together?
In order to reach best-in-class status with a roof maintenance division, you must begin with a safe operation: clean and safe fleet, equipment and people. The impression your maintenance teams make at the building site writes the future of your business every day. Safety should always be part of your sales pitch when it is time to sign up a new client, but safety does not have to end with the beginning of a new relationship.
As the roof maintenance division business model matures, roofing contractors will have to seek new ways of growing this part of their business. It may also become more competitive, so you must find new ways of leading the market as well, seeking out ways to set yourself apart from the rest of the field.
One way you may set yourself apart may be to suggest safety upgrades each time you prepare a post-repair report. In my view, every repair on a commercial building should include a report of the problem and solution. Photos of the repairs made may be extended to show opportunities for improving building safety and performance by showing clogged drains, unprotected skylights, hatches, and exposed roof edges, among others. You can solve all of these issues. You can offer to install skylight screens, guardrail systems or anchorage points for personal fall arrest systems.
Many owners will not consider spending the kind of money it will take to retrofit their buildings, but I believe many building owners who operate robust safety programs of their own will respond when they learn about innovations in building safety. Building owners who send their own people onto the roof to perform maintenance work bear the same responsibility for worker fall protection that you do for your own personnel who work at height every day.
Another way to assist owners would be to offer to help them label the point of entry to their roof(s). At the fixed ladder, elevator or stairway leading to the roof, the owner should have a permanent sign indicating where anchorage points are located, the type of personal fall arrest equipment that must be used, as well as policies and procedures relating to worker safety on the roof (for example, always staying X feet from the roof edge, using a safety monitor while working on the roof, etc.). This would be a good place to include, “For roof leaks call My Roofing Company” with your contact information.
The online version of this column, which can be found at www.RoofingContractor.com, has links to information about fall protection for construction and maintenance personnel, fall protection equipment standards, and fall protection standards from the perspective of a couple of institutional building owners.
This initiative may not add large sums to your bottom line, but it could set your service apart from the rest. Delivering a report with suggestions for building improvements is far more valuable than simply dropping an invoice in the mail. Safety may not always sell, but it always makes sense to let a client know you care about theirs.