When it comes to safety in roofing, the Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Association (FRSA) has determined R/J Group Inc. is among the best in the Sunshine State.

R/J Group, located in Port Orange, received the 2019 FRSA-Self Insurers Fund Outstanding Safety Award. The roofing contractor was one of only three companies in Florida to receive the prestigious safety award, out of the 300 contractors who were up for it. R/J Group won the award in the Central Florida District category.

“We were pretty excited about it because we know we work hard at it,” said Ian Johnson, vice president of R/J Group. “Sometimes it’s not easy for other people to see your report card, but this is a very visible way that employees and people outside of our industry can see how hard you’ve worked and the recognition you’ve gained from industry peers to show you’re on the right track.”

FRSA-Self Insurers Fund provides worker’s compensation insurance to the Florida roofing, sheet metal and air conditioning industries. It recognizes companies that encourage a high standard of business ethics and safety.

Formed in 1985, R/J Group has been a member of the FRSA-Self Insurers Fund since 2016 and continues to improve its Experience Modification Rating each year. But it hasn’t always been that way.

Johnson started in roofing as a salesman for a distribution company, but eventually transitioned into becoming a contractor. It was at that point where he learned about roofing safety, and realized knowledge is power.

“We’ve seen a lot of positive changes since we’ve changed our culture on that,” he said. “You can attribute some of that to luck, but also I gotta believe that there’s a correlation. We’ve worked harder at it and we’ve had better results.”

At first, finding a well-trained safety advisor proved difficult. Johnson recalls having a consultant come in that knew the basics of roofing safety, but couldn’t even demonstrate how to properly put on a fall safety harness. R/J Group turned to the FRSA-Self Insurers Fund to bring in a safety consultant to enhance their program and provide jobsite inspections — both pre-site and during the job — to ensure they were working safely.

Specifically, Johnson points to the company’s improved employee safety training and its jobsite-specific safety application plans. Monthly safety meetings are held at jobsites and at the office, and these are augmented with regular in-house safety meetings.

“The constant presence of talking about safety, continually learning about safety, and embracing the changes we have to make has made a strong correlation into loss returns, loss runs and the savings of having good modification ratings,” he said.

While the roofing contractor is proud to receive the award, Johnson said his goal is to see if the company can earn back-to-back awards. He said this will be challenging with the constantly-shifting guidelines caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the company doesn’t plan on letting up.

“We approach safety not from a monetary standpoint, we look at it from a moral standpoint,” he said. “The most important is you’re able to return home every single day the way you started work — no loss of a limb, no loss of an eye, no serious injuries — because we do work in a dangerous job.”

The other winners of the 2019 Outstanding Safety Award are A+ All Pro Roofing Inc. for the North Florida region and RoofTech Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc. for the South Florida region.