In both our business and personal lives, we all have experienced hiring an individual or a contractor who failed at a project. When that happens, the poor quality may translate into a legal dispute or having someone else come in and finish the project. It’s essential to qualify the work of a contractor prior to hiring. For safety reasons, we cannot stress the importance of pre-qualifying a contractor’s safety program before hiring.
The lack of safety protocols and training in a commercial roofing project can end up costing more than the cost of the original project. A severe injury or a large general liability claim such as a fire, building damage or a business interruption can end up costing thousands or even millions in claims. Litigation, to sort out these matters, can go on for years.
How do you protect yourself from these potential problems? Past performance is a good indicator of future performance. Take the time to properly qualify a roofing contractor before awarding your project.
Consider the following information:
EMR (Experience Modification Rate). An EMR is what insurance companies use to rate a contractor’s previous claim experience and can help you decide if they are a safe contractor. A contractor with an EMR below 1.0 would be good; a contractor with an EMR of 1.0 would be average; and, a contractor with an EMR greater than 1.0 would indicate poor performance.
Incidence Rate. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires companies to track their accidents. Make sure the contractor is below the national average for their industry. Be careful relying on just Incidence Rates because OSHA relies on companies self-tracking for reporting incidence. Not all contractors are honest in reporting. A high EMR (tracked by Insurance Bureau) and low Incidence Rate (tracked by self-reporting) would warrant more investigation into the company.
Good Insurance. Make sure your contractor is backed by an A+ rated insurance company. Generally solid insurance companies do not back poor performing contractors. Also be careful to check exclusions they may have on their policies that would leave you without coverage of a claim.
Financial Stability. Good contractors do not lose money. Make sure a contractor provides their financial statements for the past three years. Strong financial statements generally indicate that the contractor is doing good, working safely and giving you satisfaction that if something goes wrong, they have the ability to correct the problem rather than filing bankruptcy and forcing you to resolve the problem.
Previous OSHA Citations. OSHA maintains a database of all citations that are issued to contractors. The public website is www.osha.gov. Be aware that some contractors are small and will not have any activity. Do not assume they are a safe contractor just because they have no activity.
Safety Personnel and Programs. Make sure the contractor has people who train their employees and hold the employees accountable for implementing the training they receive. A good contractor will be able to provide you proof of training and document written safety programs.
Safety Equipment. The contractor being considered should be utilizing the best possible safety equipment to keep you, your employees and their crews as safe as possible. Rail systems, proper personal protection equipment (PPE), fire prevention equipment, and fall protection are all types of rooftop safety equipment you may see on a job site.
Pre-Project Meeting. Finally, make sure you have a meeting before the project starts and the contractor presents their safety plan. If the contractor cannot provide you with a written plan, they probably have no intentions of using proper safety procedures. Be sure the contractor is aware that your company will be checking on them to ensure they are implementing the safety plan they provided.
Pre-qualifying your contractor for safety and quality will go a long way in helping ensure your project will go smoothly.