Roofing Contractor safety columnist Chip Macdonald of Best Safety, LLC, first raised the point at the beginning of this ever-lengthening recession. Dollars spent on anything not considered indispensable would be cut first, and for some that includes the safety program. We have since learned the same is true of marketing and advertising dollars, which accounts for the still somewhat lighter magazine you hold in your hand.
Cutting back on sales and marketing efforts in tough times is a bit like removing the clock from your office wall to save time (but that is another column). This issue of Roofing Contractor focuses on safety, and that is my reason for bringing Chip’s good point back into view. I fear he may be right.
The temptation to cut corners becomes great when contractors find themselves in extremely competitive situations. In my world, helping our business managers reduce operating costs is front and center. It is how I spend my working days, especially when things get tight. But some things must be considered sacred and safety is the first item on that list.
When I say “safety,” the reference is really to people. Not just the people who work in the roofing industry but their families. A culture promoting worker and workplace safety protects not only the people working in your business but the folks who work beside you in other trades as well as your clients and the general public.
Worker and worksite safety in the roof-contracting industry has a long way to go to achieve the kind of “world-class” status achieved by other industries. You do not have to look very far to find examples of world-class safety programs. Some are right here in the roofing industry, most notably some of our roofing materials manufacturers. Many roof-contracting firms have set their sites on “world-class” and have made great strides to reach benchmarks never seen before in roofing construction. Most roofing contractors understand the risks and work hard every day to improve their safety record.
So this is no time to back away from your dedication to building a better safety program. This is no time to cut corners, especially when it comes to keeping your workforce out of harm’s way. The temptations to cut are as great at this time as any I have ever seen, but the cost of putting roofing industry safety programs into reverse would be immeasurable. The investment up to this point has been great and it would be more than a shame to lose so much as an inch of ground for the sake of winning cheap work just to stay in business. You would be better off ceasing operations.
There are other ways of cutting costs and winning bids. Use this time to improve on worker safety. There are still individuals and firms who value working with contractors who can demonstrate a great safety record. Some even make a requirement of it.