Debate that if you must but this situation is not likely to change any time soon. Modern home construction has to a great extent traded the virtues of the no-nonsense roofing system for the magnificence of the extremely steep and uniquely defined. The Carriers are responding to this trend with a well-known strategy commonly referred to in today’s corporate world as “Risk Management.”
Risk Management is defined by Wikipedia as:
“the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events or to maximize the realization of opportunities. The strategies to manage risk include transferring the risk to another party, avoiding the risk, reducing the negative effect or probability of the risk, or even accepting some or all of the consequences of a particular risk.”
It is quite obvious that the Carriers I speak of are using a strategy of avoidance whereby they are transferring the risk away from their own staff. This move (according to my carrier clients) does not remove the threat of legal liability altogether however, does substantially mitigate the negative consequences associated with a fall related injury.
Independents are free to pursue the whole avoidance strategy too if they choose. Proof of such can be located in the Insurance Carrier’s copy of Politically Correct Code for Plausibly Deniable Fact chapter 12, section 7b that states:
“Both staff and Independent level management and above are forbidden from openly discriminating against those claims adjusters who refuse to complete their own steep roof inspections.” (Please note that the existence of such code is purely speculative in nature based on the carrier’s un-concealable distaste for any and all delays in the claims handling process.)
The key word here being “openly”. Returning incomplete claim files to your manager for reassignment may be the right move for personal safety sake, it is not however, characteristic of those adjusters who represent the ‘first and best choice” to remain on site or to deploy for the next assignment.
Enough about those who fit into the category of avoiders, let’s talk about our own risk management plan. Let’s talk about the strategy that we as Independents, the undeclared backbone of the industry can do to capitalize on this situation. Let’s explore the critical components for meeting the risk as it stands and reaping a positive consequence for our efforts.
Risk Managed High Angled Roof Inspection 101
1) Mobility – The average Independent is neither young or what most would consider fit. Though there is little that we can do about our age, we are capable of making great strides in the category of physical wellness. As claims professionals, we represent one of the few groups who can legitimately place a fitness club membership expense on our list of tax deductions. Regular participation in a fitness program is a proven means for improving balance and flexibility.
2) Assessment – Most claims adjuster have absolutely no developed plan in place for roof structure assessment, more often than not, our ladders meet the risks we inspect at a point which is most convenient to the proximity of our vehicles. Steep roofs merit more effort towards access strategy. Many people are unaware of the fact that hip ridge and valley systems make for good access points because they have less pitch than directional slopes. Take full advantage of the very best roof access point by completing a 360° tour of the risk before attempting to climb it.
|7/12 Pitch on Main Slope|
|10/12 Hip End Slope|
|5.75/12 Hip Ridge|
3) Ladders – are the most critical component to safe roof inspection yet there are currently no stock ladders on the market designed specifically for roof access use as all portable ladders are considered to be multi-purpose ladders. Extension ladders represent the very best choice for accessing roof structures only because they are available in the greatest variety of lengths, materials, and safety features. Furthermore, and of greatest importance, extension ladders are compatible with several very useful upgrades capable of transforming them into roof access specific ladders. If you are a member of the vast majority of adjusters who have not used a “Ladder Max” ladder stabilizer or a “Guardian” walk through ladder extension rail system, then you are missing a paradigm shift in ladder use technology. Incorporating these two products can all but eliminate the threat of ladder kick-out and lateral slippage, the two leading causes of roof specific ladder use injuries.
of 1’ or less
12’ – 60’
The two greatest causes for roof access ladder injuries are lateral slippage and kick-outThe simple act of adding a Ladder Max to your roof inspection process can reduce your chances of a lateral slippage incident by almost ten fold!
· Ladder-Max ladder attachment provides both lateral stability and unparalleled qualities for resisting the forces of kick-out.
· The Guardian Safe T Rail system keeps climbers center of gravity between ladder rails and extends ladder’s reach by 3 ft.
WARNING: These photo illustrations were completed while using a full personal fall restraint system for the purpose of demonstrating resistance to the forces of kick-out. CCS LLC does not recommend the use of any ladder or attachment in any manner which is inconsistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
BEWARE of what I like to call “ladders of convenience”, i.e. articulated or telescoping ladders that are either designed for compact storage, many different uses or both. Sound risk management strategy does not compromise with convenience.
4) Roof Specific Rope Access Training – Most Property Adjusters with three plus years of experience have (on their own and out of necessity) incorporated half a dozen rope related techniques that allow for varying degrees of high angle roof access. Our industry’s leaders have coined the term “Rope & Harness” to represent the process required for high angle access roofs that exceed the capabilities of the “Cougar Paw”. The term “Rope & Harness” is however, part of the problem because it represents an oversimplification of the act of Managed fall Protection (as defined by ANSI), much in the same way that “Road & Throttle” would be an oversimplification of the act of driver education training. Complete a little on-line research of Rope Access training requirements for the construction industry (as well as that which is now emerging for our own industry) and you find a whole new language that very few adjusters have come to understand. Several major Insurance carriers currently require specific percentages of Independent adjusters with “formalized rope and harness training” from the independent companies with whom they contract. My predictions for the future encompass all carriers replacing such verbiage to that which bears greater resemblance to ANSI based Construction Industry Fall Protection standards and then to ANSI standards that will eventually be written and adopted for our own unique (roof inspection) industry. Numerous roof specific rope access inspection advancements (too numerous to mention in this article) in equipment, set-up and technique have taken place in the last two years alone. If you have not used a “pivot line”, have no idea how to build a portable anchor, or never even heard of a “rope caddy” then you are missing out on just three of many tools that have already made a significant industry wide impact on individual risk management strategy. Make no mistake, roof specific rope access training is for EVERYONE, especially those who fit into the politically correct categories of experienced and nutritionally enhanced (two terms which should never be confused with old or overweight).
BEWARE of the “Rubber Stamp” Rope & Harness training programs created primarily as a knee-jerk response to the carrier’s recent “formalized training” requirements. The fact that they even call themselves “Rope & Harness” should be your first clue that they have not put much research or effort into building a complete, accurate or effective curriculum for keeping you safe. Remember, the best strategies for preventing injuries and fatalities are created by those whose very lives depend on them, not the big business executives who risk little more each day than a coffee stain on their tie.
Risk has always been a critical component to determining which Independents get deployed to work, a decision that will be even more critical in the years to come as all Independent employers seek to decrease their own legal liability and that of the carriers they service.Let’s not forget that it is only our jobs that are defined by the Insurance carrier’s call for assistance. Our risks are defined by the way that we choose to respond to our jobs.