The commitment to safety at Belcher Roofing Corporation runs from top to bottom.
The Montgomeryville, Pa.-based company, which performs commercial and industrial work, has made a commitment to its employees to continually improve existing safety programs and create a safer working environment.
According to its owners, President Kevin Belcher and Treasurer Thomas Belcher, the company, which was established in 1974, regards safety of employees as its paramount concern.
“We have extensive safety training and longstanding education and practical programs in place,” Thomas Belcher said. “We will continue to promote those ideals and enforce compliance to the best of our ability.”
Taking Safety StepsKevin Belcher said the bottom line is this: “Safety is good business.” Belcher Roofing Corp. (BRC) has taken several steps to help ensure a safer work environment. In the past few years, the company:
- Conducted a documented meeting with all employees on Jan. 3, 2006. “Our goal was to make an impression on all of our employees to make sure they understand the importance of our safety program,” Kevin Belcher said.
- Conducted another documented safety meeting with the production foremen and service foreman on Feb. 15, 2006, to review the best method for improving its safety program, improving its fall protection program, and re-emphasizing accountability. “As a result of this meeting, one important change was the implementation of a jobsite analysis (JSA) for all jobs, which will increase the foremen’s responsibility and accountability for projects,” Kevin Belcher said, “
- Expanded its “Workplace Safety Committee” to include four field representatives and three management representatives with oversight to better improve accountability and ability to execute safety changes and upgrades.
- Implemented full fall perimeter protection utilizing the parapet wall guardrail system, the FAST track system, the PR-600 mobile fall protection system, and tie-off with harnesses.
- Standardized the type of lanyard used in the field along with on-site training from the manufacturer with all employees.
- Created a position and hired a safety director (William Reis) in June 2006. Since the hire, Reis has completed the following training: OSHA 500 Trainer Course for the Construction Industry; OSHA 3110 Fall Arrest Systems; OSHA 30 Hour Course; OSHA 10 Hour Course; Fundamentals of Workers’ Compensation; NRCA Industry Fall Protection from A to Z; Asbestos Supervisor Classification; Water Intrusion and Mold Prevention; and CPR/AED Trainer.
- Joined the Mid-Atlantic Construction Safety Council in October of 2006. Belcher Roofing is currently the only commercial roofing contractor member, and Reis is on the executive board and advisory council.
- Constructed a Training Center at its main location to train employees. The state-of-the-art training center has allowed Belcher Roofing to complete the following documented training: 30 Hour OSHA Training for all production and service foremen; 10-hour OSHA Training for all field employees; CPR/AED Training for all production and service foremen; Fall Protection Training; Ladder Safety Training; Body Harness Training; CERTA Training; OSHA 8 Hour Asbestos Training; Scaffold Training; Hazardous Communication Training; Confined Space Training; Fire Extinguisher Training; Propane Dispensing Training; Rigging Training; Trench Training; Rough Terrain Forklift Training; New Hire Training; Radio Frequency Training; Hearing Conservation Policy; Voluntary Respirator Protection Program; Safety Committee Training; Hazardous Identification Training; and Accident Investigation Training.
- Set up training for crane operators, who are recognized as “Certified Crane Operators-CCO.”
- Created an alliance with the Philadelphia OSHA Office.
“We now have more potential employees than ever asking us if we have room for them in our organization,” Kevin Belcher said. “Unfortunately, our approach also keeps some of those potential employees out of our company because they refuse to buy in to our program, much like the fact that we have found the need over the past several years to terminate or not rehire certain employees because of their refusal to cooperate in our program.”
What Safety MeansBelcher Roofing’s challenge was to craft its approach to a safer working environment. “Take safety from a hazy, static, undefined idea and transform it into a corporate cultural philosophy that is pervasive from the owners down to every employee, subcontractor and business partner,” said Thomas Belcher, noting the company’s approach was a departure from the prevalent ideologies in many other construction firms.
“Often safety is prioritized behind production, often somewhere near quality,” he said. “Safety and education are most likely not a budgeted line item for most projects, despite safety and education having the best return on investment of all dollars that could be spent.”
Belcher Roofing first defined its goal and dedicated it to writing. “It is our belief that every worker has the right to expect a safe and healthy workplace and to expect to be able go home at the end of every workday,” Thomas Belcher said.
The next step was to assign responsibility for achieving milestones that needed to be met. The task of conveying the goal to all of the company associates and business partners fell to owners Kevin and Thomas Belcher. “The idea was met with lukewarm response, as it seemed like so many people had heard the talk about safety and how important it is; yet those same people never seem to see a company walk the walk,” Thomas Belcher said. “Despite the lackluster response, this informational milestone was achieved.”
The Safety DirectorBelcher Roofing understood the goal of zero injuries required time, money, and energy delivered with enthusiasm to keep everyone interested.
Enter Bill Reis, a longtime company roofer and supervisor with many years in the field. “Bill stepped up and volunteered to take the lead as the full-time safety director,” Thomas Belcher said. “He remains in that position, with no other responsibilities aside from safety director.”
In addition to assuming the responsibility that comes with the title, Reis assumed the task of seeking out every possible safety education and certification resource available.
“His success in that area is obvious as he has acquired an OSHA 500 card that allows him to train others as well as his 3110, first aid and AED training from the American Red Cross along with countless other seminars and courses in all phases of safety,” said Thomas Belcher, noting Reis has his Construction Health and Safety Professional (CHSP) certification pending.
Belcher said Reis performs a jobsite analysis for every project and on-site inspections to ensure compliance on a daily basis.
“Bill also conducts equipment audits and we voluntarily remove thousands of dollars of safety equipment from use on a monthly basis as required,” he said. “That equipment is then regulated to use as a training tool in our in-house training sessions.”
“Our use of on-site safety must be clear in that an educated, alert and motivated on-site associate is the best and first tool for a safe workplace.”
Conveying the MessageWith a clear message and available education and training, Belcher Roofing addressed the costs involved in getting its message to all its associates and putting new policies in place.
“Substantial dollars were needed and supplied to purchase the appropriate safety equipment for all applications from Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) all the way through all aspects of required or suggested equipment throughout the company, including certified Crane Operator (CCO) licensing for all BRC crane operators regardless of whether or not it was required by statute or contract,” said BRC Controller Paul Koehler.
Still, the money and energy spent was not limited to just field equipment, as Belcher Roofing saw a need for a permanent training facility and built a Safety Training Center in Montgomeryville, Pa.
“The center seats up to 20 students comfortably and provides the trainers with true multi media presentation options, including a 72-inch whiteboard with projector, software that allows for on screen annotation of projected images, a dedicated PC attached to the BRC internal data network and external internet, DVD player and VCR,” Koehler said.
Adjacent to the training center is an area that allows students to use the various different types of PPE, fall restraint, fall protection, edge railings and many other types of equipment demonstrated in the training, which gives the student a better grasp of the practical application of their training.
“Belcher Roofing had already learned that safety equipment is an important part of the overall plan, but still only a part,” Koehler said. “Training needed to be provided to all users of the safety equipment so they would be able to properly identify hazards, understand best practices for remediation of the hazard and have the training to use the appropriate equipment correctly to properly address the potential hazard.”
Using its Safety Training Center as well as other offsite facilities, all field employees received mandatory 10-hour OSHA training and Fall Protection Training. Then all supervisors and foremen received 30-hour OSHA training and Fall Protection Training.
“Field employees working with open torches received CERTA training and updates, although in many instances it is not required,” Koehler said. “Asbestos supervisors received training and updates as required.”
Training WorksDid Belcher Roofing succeed in having that group of people most typically at the highest risk - the employees in the field - buy into the idea of making safety a top priority?
“Without question, that is the case,” Thomas Belcher said. “BRC leads by example from the top down. That example is consistently repeated and reconfirmed over and over again. The example includes spending substantial time and dollars for the sole purpose of ensuring the safety of the people at work, and the employees clearly saw that leadership.”
Thomas Belcher said the “buy-in is complete” throughout the entire company. Safety equipment, once considered to be clumsy and unnecessarily time consuming, is now considered standard operating procedure before any other task is considered.
“Employees now recognize that BRC has taken all reasonable steps to provide the tools they can use to protect themselves,” he said. “Also, as employees, they accept their crucial role in the plan by consistently using the training, equipment and education they have been provided to the best of their ability to provide their own safe and healthy workplace.”
Belcher Roofing Corp. recognizes that a safe and healthy workplace is a goal that must be pursued but will never be fully met. The industry and the workplace, particularly in construction, are constantly changing.
“It is important for us to understand that we have reached important milestones in the ongoing progress of our own corporate culture, while also raising the bar for other contractors, again leading by example,” Thomas Belcher said. “Our next focus is to reach out to our clients, subcontractors, vendors and other fellow contractors and bring the message that safety is the first priority above all others.”
For more information on Belcher Roofing Corp., call 215-362-5400 or visit www.belcherroofing.com.