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Summer 2002 Volume 17

Feature Articles

Most companies make it a policy to constantly inspect and maintain machinery and computer systems to assure smooth and efficient operations. Yet, there is one important system many companies often neglect to check, and failure of this system could result in property damage, lost income and personal injury. No wonder more and more companies are making roof inspections and maintenance a part of their ongoing loss control program.

Because your roof protects your business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, regular, preventive measures are required to ensure proper roof performance and an undisturbed workplace below. Most importantly, putting in place a roof inspection and maintenance program now could protect that investment, thus saving you thousands of dollars in capital expenditures for an entire roof replacement or other financial losses resulting from a decaying or damaged roof.

How To Check For Symptoms Of Roof Problems

You can’t detect roofing problems by looking up at the roof. You have to be on it, routinely inspecting its condition. Here are some of the things to be looking for:

  • Roof surface — The roof should be a uniform, flat surface. Defects resulting from shrinkage, cracks and tars can allow moisture to penetrate the roof long before that moisture will show up in your building's interior.
  • Moisture — A soft or spongy surface area is usually a sign of trapped moisture, indicating damaged or wet insulation.
  • Roof Edges — The sheet metal at the edge of your roof should be uniform in appearance and firmly attached. Problems with the metal edge will only be exaggerated with high winds and will result in poor drainage.
  • Drainage — In addition to clearing debris from drains and gutters, look for standing water on the roof surface. A new roof drain may help eliminate these potential problem areas.

If major repairs are identified as a result of the inspection, they should be completed as soon as possible to avoid further roof system deterioration.

For Best Results, Schedule Two Roof Checkups A Year

The roofing industry recommends that a roof be inspected routinely in the spring and fall. The spring inspection allows you time to correct adverse conditions found without the threat of inclement weather. The fall inspection is a good time to check on any repairs made in the spring and to make sure that the roof is in good shape for winter. Using a checklist and photography to document your roof’s condition is recommended as a means for comparison during future inspections.

Whether you conduct inspections yourself, secure the assistance of an EMC loss control professional or hire a qualified roofing contractor, a comprehensive roofing inspection and maintenance program can help you minimize or reduce: costly emergency or crisis repairs; product damage which could result from leaks; building structural damage; interior finish damage; occupancy downtime; and potential injury or death to customers and employees.

Although your roof system may be out of sight from your desk or work areas, the costs associated with major roofing problems could also be out of sight! So, rather than taking chances, schedule routine roof checkups today. Remember, it doesn’t matter how well maintained your equipment and computer systems are if they aren’t protected by a healthy and well-maintained roofing system.

Roof Example

Understanding what causes problems can help you find areas that need attention during inspections.

Natural causesinclude extreme weather and exposure to pollutants, animals, vegetation, fungus and algae.

Man-made causesinclude workmanship deficiencies, manufacturing defects, improper additions, roofing penetrations, membrane contamination and vandalism.

Other causesof roofing problems result from water infiltration through roof elements such as louvers, windows, skylights and HVAC equipment.

In addition to routinely scheduled fall and spring inspections, you should conduct special inspections anytime one of the following situations applies:

  • Construction effects the roof or adjacent roof area.
  • New equipment is installed on the roof.
  • After severe weather conditions such as hail, high winds and heavy snow.
  • Any repairs or reroofing on the roof or an adjacent area.
  • Prior to your roof’s warranty expiration to note any problems covered before you assume financial obligations.

Your equipment can fail because of a sudden lack of power, lower voltage levels, power surges when service is restored and other line and distribution problems. However, careful pre-planning is the key to successfully reducing risk to your business caused by power outages.

  • Have an updated electrical one-line diagram that identifies how the main components of the electrical system are connected.
  • Identify critical loads that will require emergency power.
  • Determine the proper size of emergency generator(s) needed, and how this power will be supplied.
  • Install a surge protection device on the incoming electrical service to reduce the damage caused by externally generated surges (lightning, utility operations).
  • Have a documented power outage procedure in place.

A well-organized safety meeting can impact the incidence and severity of workplace accidents. The following tips will help you maximize the effectiveness of your next meeting.

  • Concentrate on just one or two subjects for each meeting.
  • Be prepared. Make certain all materials are appropriate and complete. Be sure audio-visual equipment needed for you or any guest speaker is in working order.
  • Schedule the meeting for a time when everyone is together and not occupied with other tasks. Avoid early or late in the day and the lunch hour.
  • Keep a record of who was at the meeting, the date and what was presented. Have employees sign off on any training. (You’ll find meeting record forms in EMC’s Loss Prevention Information Manual.)

In addition to these tips, EMC can provide you with “Safety Talks,” videos and other materials covering a wide range of safety topics. Remember, well-organized safety meetings are a proven method to bring hazards to the attention of workers, get opinions about how to avoid injuries, share experiences, and develop and improve loss control measures.

In March 2002, OSHA established a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Hazardous Machinery Associated With Amputations (CPL 2-1.35) as an extension of the 1997 National Emphasis Program on Mechanical Power Presses. The success of the Power Press NEP has led OSHA to issue a new directive aimed at all machines likely to cause amputation.

With a continuing incidence of employee amputation and repeated machine guarding citations during inspections, OSHA feels something needs to be done to decrease employee exposure to amputation. This directive, known as Four S’s and a P for the types of machines it covers, is aimed at industries who use the following types of equipment: saws, shears, slicers, slitters and power presses.

Each OSHA regional and area office will be responsible for supporting this NEP by sending letters to employers, professional organizations and unions. These offices will also have the duty of scheduling and conducting inspections of industries where the referenced machines are used.

The regional office will schedule each inspection and review the establishment’s citation and accident history. The OSHA officer will question if any of the Four S’s and a P are present. If so, the officer will conduct a thorough inspection of the machines, paying close attention to exposure to nip points, pinch points, shear points, cutting actions and points of operation. The officer will evaluate exposures during the normal operation of the machine as well as the setup, cleaning, greasing, adjustments, maintenance and lockout/tagout.

Following the inspection, formal or informal settlement agreements may be made between OSHA and the employer. In either case, the employer must commit to implement or improve safety programs and measures to decrease employee exposure to amputation.

Employers who fall under the scope of this directive can expect an OSHA officer to visit their establishment at any time in the future, likely without prior notification.* For additional information about the directive, visit

* This National Emphasis Program has not been adopted by the State of Iowa. In the State of Iowa, an officer will visit the establishment only when notification of an amputation is received. Still, employers should ensure that all machines associated with this directive are compliant with OSHA standards pertaining to machine guarding.


Personal Protective Equipment and Accident Investigation are the newest sections available in Policyholder Information & Resources. Look for Material Handling to be added later this year.


Order Safety Talks online by selecting from the following categories — Safety Talks, Transportation Safety or Spanish Safety Talks. Materials are also available by calling 515-280-3957.


Periodic inspections of boilers and pressure vessels are required in most states and local governments. Call HSB's hotline at 1-800-333-4677 to schedule your inspection. These inspections are covered by your insurance policy.


If the recent Senate resolution is passed by the Senate and House, the Department of Labor would be required to issue a new Ergonomics Standard. We’ll keep you posted.