Over the course of my years in this industry I’ve witnessed many changes. When I started in roofing the steep-slope side of the business was busy moving from organic base mats in asphalt shingles to fiberglass. Three-tab shingles were king but laminated shingles and concrete roof tile were beginning to move. Low-slope roofing manufacturers and contractors were moving from two-ply coated felt systems to fiberglass felts.

To quote from a cigarette commercial from around that same time, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

Or have you? There are a few things that are just as much a part of the roofing industry now as they were in 1974 (and way before that). The gap between contractors who do the right thing — like running a safe worksite, building to code, paying taxes, and acquiring the appropriate insurance — and contractors who do not is as prevalent today as it has ever been.

The gap between contractors who do the right thing and contractors who do not manifests itself in the cost of doing business. Contractors who do not do the right thing have a competitive edge in cost that can be insurmountable for legitimate contractors.

Thank goodness price is not all that matters. If price were all that mattered to consumers, the three-tab shingle would still be king and they would all be installed by uninsured trunk-slammers.

So what does all of the above have to do with safety? I believe today’s consumer places a value on safety and will listen to your pitch on the topic. I believe safety is one of the best ways sharp roofing contractors set themselves apart from their competition.

Many roofing contractors have spent decades improving their safety programs. As to the cost of safety, most of them will acknowledge that the investments they have made in their safety programs have actually paid them huge dividends over the years by way of better-trained workers, fewer workplace injuries, and lower workers’ comp rates.

So, instead of my usual tirade about how you should be driving a great safety program in your shop, I am going to recognize that many of today’s roofing contractors have stepped up their game. I am suggesting that you take it to the next level by making it part of your culture and making it part of your story. It could even be part of your sales pitch and recruiting efforts.

It may be tough to sit across the kitchen table or the conference-room table from a consumer looking at re-roofing proposals that seem like they are from different planets. But those same consumers do not want you on their home or building if they do not believe you are doing everything in your power to keep your workers, the general public, and them safe from the hazards of roofing work.

Beyond the bounds of your own roofing business, I believe that safety can elevate the profile of the entire roofing industry. The one thing all roofing contractors can all do to move the industry forward is to circle the wagons around the issue of safety. Learn it, practice it, talk about it, and sell it. Our consumers are ready to buy in.