December 4-6, 2024
Bonita Springs, FL
Roofing SafetyBest of Success

Best of Success Seminar: Increase Safety by Determining the Root Causes of Near Misses

Edwin G. Foulke Jr., a partner with Fisher and Phillips LLP, delivered a rousing presentation at Best of Success. While the subject matter of safety on the roof is quite serious, Foulke delivered his message with humor. “I want you to take at least one fact with you today: never take a sleeping pill and laxative at the same time!”

Foulke, the former head of OSHA under President George W. Bush, didn’t have to remind audience members of a sobering reality: people in roofing can get killed on the job. “If you want to be successful, you have to be committed to safety,” he said. “And, above all, your safety plan has to be easy for employees to follow.”

He outlined the reasons for a great safety program:

  • Morally, it’s the right thing to do.
  • It allows your employees to go home each night safely to their family and loved ones.
  • It keeps you from having to make that dreaded call or visit to a worker’s loved ones.
  • It’s essential for a company to be profitable and competitive in today’s marketplace.
  • It’s the law.

According to Foulke, safety has to be at the heart of a company’s core values. A mission and vision should be established for every company’s safety program, with a demonstrated commitment from bottom to top, as well as empowerment and engagement at all levels. Furthermore, company leadership’s commitment to safety should include defined goals and objectives, consistent policies and procedures, worksite monitoring of compliance enforcement, and safety performance metrics and accountability. The goal should be continuous improvement at all levels.

Control/compliance system checks are also important to consider, noted Foulke. Key questions include: How are hazards identified? Are unsafe acts and near misses tracked? Is preventive maintenance performed when due? What do you measure and what gets rewarded?

He also outlined the importance of why companies should report near misses. Foremost, reporting a near miss helps to establish and continue safe practices within the workplace. Additionally, this information enables an employer to communicate facts, causes and corrective actions. It also shows the company won’t tolerate risk. Reporting also allows identification of possible trends and provides a tool to identify workplace hazards. It encourages employee involvement in the safety program and demonstrates management’s commitment to safety.

Foulke also emphasized the importance of root cause analysis as a critical element of a successful safety program. When analyzing an incident or a near miss, he notes that it is necessary to assess the direct causes that contributed to the problem and determine corrective actions or solutions to make sure it does not happen again.

Training for employees, supervisors and managers is critical, advised Foulke, who urged attendees not to let their guard down. “Check your training program,” he said. “Do you have a good safety program, or have you been lucky?”

Ed Foulke’s Best of Success seminar was presented as a live webinar. To view the archived version on demand, just visit

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