Kern County-based R Cooper Roofing is a well-established roofing contractor, specializing in residential reroof, new construction, and commercial hot tar. Its owner, Rick Cooper, has been in the roofing industry approximately 40 years. He’s operated his roofing company for more than 20 of those years, and has been a State Fund Policyholder for the majority of that time.

These days, Rick does the estimating and payroll but when he’s got guys out sick, he’ll get up on the roof and help do the job. His main concern is making sure his crew is safe and that they have everything they need to do the job safely and accurately.

An eye-opener

Several years ago, Rick, found himself with employees getting injured on the job and a resulting 142 percent ex-mod factor—a modifier applied to an employer’s workers’ comp premium that is based on loss history. At the time, Rick’s safety culture was, as he describes it, ‘low-key’. “I thought I was checking off all the boxes. We held our tailgates every 10 days and then forgot about them until we had to do them again 10 days later.” He realized that his employees who had been in the roofing industry for years had become complacent when it came to safety because they hadn’t been injured on the job and had been doing it their way for quite some time. Rick knew it was time to make some major changes.

A key step to improving safety culture

Rick’s first step was to add hazard assessment to his Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP)—an improvement that has made a significant impact on his workplace safety. Now Rick walks through every job with his team before work begins to find any hazards, such as fall risks, and correct them.