Let me start by saying that there are notable occupations which our society cannot do without. Like death and taxes, food, clothing and a roof over our heads are universal constants. However, it is remarkable to me that Roofing Contractor would consider conducting such an analytical study of the roofing industry in the first place, particularly in the current economic environment. Due to many socio-economic factors, the roof industry is suffering from increased pressures in order to simply survive.
The long-range benefits of a dedicated movement toward “zero accidents” and “safety first” behavior are often lost to the profit margin, even in boom times. The inclination to self-assess your own industry during a severe and lengthy market downturn is, in my opinion, courageous. Most agree that opinion surveys are based on the premise that those queried are responding fully, accurately and truthfully. With more than 30 years investigating and interviewing safety in the field, however, it’s my opinion that most good faith responses to questions of safety behavior are as much about what the individual wants the truth to be as what the truth actually is. With that considered, the survey was very enlightening to me.
The 3 percent national response rate (150 total) from a notoriously reticent segment of the workforce (construction) was probably anticipated. I would expect those contractors with weak and nonexistent safety programs, high injury rates, and token levels of management commitment to opt out of any published survey on risk management trends. However, a few of the responses hinted that some of these contractors did not back down. The demographic data indicated to me that the 2011 survey group was diversified: there were equal numbers of large and small contractors; there were equal numbers with gross sales above and below 1$ million. As corporate safety cultures are tied very closely to these two factors — size and sales — I was impressed by the equity for such a small statistical sample.
If the future of the roofing industry is to be augured, the question about the safety program’s effect on profit and loss is the keystone to this entire survey. It suggests that over half (58 percent) of the contractors surveyed are optimistic about the effects that safety has on profits. Only 14 percent are discouraged about this relationship, and about a quarter believe that safety and profit are not dating steady. I was taught young that “If you can see it first, you can build it later.” The 58 percent who remain optimistic that safety will (eventually) generate greater profit are the industry leaders who others will follow. I consider these the psychological tough-guys of the industry.