Interview – Dr. Walter C. Fluharty, Vice President – Environmental Health and Safety & Organizational Development, Simon Roofing

Dr. Walter C. Fluharty is currently the Vice President – Environmental Health and Safety & Organizational Development for Simon Roofing and is responsible for their manufacturing facilities and 66 Service Centers nationwide.

In a career that spans more than 30 years, he has built a reputation developing world class safety cultures in a wide variety of industries.  His experience includes developing the widely used training program, “It Can Happen Here” funded by an OSHA New Directions Grant. He actively participated in the development of several OHSA standards including, the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals and Cadmium standards.

1) What do you feel are the biggest challenges safety leaders are currently faced with within their business?
Speaking for the competitive construction industry, the top three (3) would be; first, resources, followed by resources, with resources being a close third.

2) As a safety leader, what do you feel businesses continue to get wrong when it comes to their Health and Safety strategy?
Unknowingly and unintentionally reinforcing the wrong behaviors. For example, recently we had a manager visit a project and was pleasantly surprised to find all the work was proceeding ahead of schedule. The manager treated the employees to a lunch off site praising them for their efforts and told them resoundingly and in no uncertain terms, “Whatever you are doing, keep it up!”.
Q&A Interview – OHS Leaders Summit USA Page -2

Unfortunately, the crew was limiting their breaktimes to keep ahead of the schedule. As the weather changed from warm to hot, the crew, reinforced by the managers praise, continue to maintain the pace.

On one of the warmest days of the year, one of the employees became dehydrated and began to show signs of heat stress. Fortunately, the other crew members were able to quickly provide cooling and first aid and prevent a serious health issue.

3) What are the latest trends and behaviours you predict will be surfacing on the market over the coming 12 months?
• Rethinking of the traditional observation and feedback processes to include less structure and more conversation to uncover organizational, process and system weaknesses.
• A resurgence in focus group based cultural assessments over the current “surveys” to allow for probing questioning.
• More technology based tools for millennials.

4) What is the best piece of advice you have received within your job over the years?
“Don’t do this as a job, do it because you care!”

5) What is one key takeaway you hope our OHS audience leaves with after hearing your presentation on site?
Safety is about people.

Backed by more than a century of commercial roofing experience, Simon Roofing manufactures, installs and services roofing systems for retail, industrial, manufacturing, institutional, real estate and government entities throughout the country. With 66 service center locations, we self perform more than 99% of national service work to provide our customers with consistent, high-quality workmanship and well-established safety practices. Through our affiliate, Simon Surfaces, we also offer a variety of concrete repair and floor resurfacing systems. Areas of specialty include commercial roofing repairs, restorations, replacements, 24/7 emergency service response, diagnostic testing/analysis, roof asset management, preventative maintenance, concrete repair and concrete floor resurfacing.