White Papers—Safe Roof Access with Springfield Ladder Anchor

By:  Terri Jo Umlor, Springfield SmartAnchor LLC

Work Place injuries and disabilities create an enormous emotional burden on families and a financial dependence on our economy.  The ripple can be felt through many generations of families.

When a construction worker who is the head of the household is seriously injured or killed, there is a tremendous burden placed upon the entire community.  On average 400 people die each year and 135,000 people are injured as a result from scaffolding and ladder-related injuries.  Even if only 1% of those injured people become disabled that would equate to roughly 54 Million dollars of subsistence needed compounding each year to support the injured worker and their family.  The portable ladder is the most dangerous construction tool – 34% of all deaths on construction sites were from falls!

Further, there is a prevalent mindset accepted by the general population that construction workers have accidents and get hurt.

We honor our tradesmen and created the Springfield Ladder Anchor to address fall related deaths and injuries, which in turn, reduces the strain on the social infrastructures in our communities and throughout the state.

The Springfield Ladder Anchor safely secures an extension ladder to the roof of a building in order to keep the ladder from slipping sideways along the roofline or slipping out from the wall at the ground level. The product was invented through collaboration between Springfield, Inc., our related commercial roofing enterprise and Great Lakes Stainless (GLS), one of the country’s top stainless steel manufacturers. The Springfield Ladder Anchor is the result of decades of experience in the field, safely and effectively climbing ladders to reach rooftops of every imaginable dimension and grade.

OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) has a mission to help employers and employees reduce job related injuries, illnesses and death. As such, they provide safety standards and guidelines for multiple industries. The Springfield Ladder Anchor fully complies with the safety requirements for properly securing an extension ladder set forth by OSHA. The product can either be installed on the top edge of the roof or reversed and attached to the face edge of the roof. Because the Springfield Ladder Anchor was designed by people in the roofing business, installing the product to the roof will not cause any damage or create leaks as it is designed to be flashed into the roof providing safe, attractive roof access for years to come.

The Springfield Ladder Anchor was developed for very personal reasons. Springfield, Inc., a related company is in the roofing business with 27 employees out in the field regularly climbing extension ladders to rooftops of every conceivable design. As a conscientious employer and commercial contractor, we strive for excellence in our safety record and OSHA compliance. Of course, simply utilizing an existing ladder anchor system would have been the quickest and most cost-effective path to safety compliance. Unfortunately, as we field tested and reviewed the available solutions; we were not satisfied with the products available. Because this is so critical to protecting our employees, we decided to design and prototype our own device. Partnering with one of the best stainless steel manufacturers in the U.S., Great Lakes Stainless (GLS), we developed the Springfield Ladder Anchor.

Our ladder anchor has a provisional patent filed and has been tested in the field by teams of experienced roofing contractors. In every test, the product worked flawlessly to protect these workers and the product received accolades on the function, ease of installation and sleek, stainless steel design. The Springfield Ladder Anchor has received enthusiastic responses from Michigan OSHA representatives and safety directors at large and small contractors based on the ease of installation and maintenance-free stainless steel construction, coupled with the effectiveness of the device.

Through our affiliated company, Springfield, Inc. we have been installing these on all of our commercial roofs for the past year creating a safe roof access and have received rave reviews from the customers and the employees to the point that our own employees feel “naked” climbing the ladder without the Springfield Ladder Anchor protecting them.

Although there are some competing products attempting to solve this safety concern, the Springfield Ladder Anchor consistently provides superior safety without compromising the roof surface to allow leaks or other damage. In addition, its stainless steel construction makes it durable and completely rust-proof, without additional paint, stain or other treatments.

The Springfield Ladder Anchor was conceived in a collaboration between two successful, second-stage, Michigan 50 Companies to Watch. Although the product is being launched through a separate company (Springfield SmartAnchor, LLC), the enterprise will benefit from the experience and mentoring from both Springfield, Inc. and Great Lakes Stainless Steel.

Springfield, Inc., located near Traverse City, Michigan, started as a roofing company and evolved into a complete commercial service provider. Constantly solving problems on industrial and manufacturing facilities led the team to develop and implement a number of solutions into a system called the SmartRoof™! The company is certified in

  • Building Thermography and Building Science
  • Multiple Lift Operator Certifications
  • MDOT Certified Commercial Drivers
  • Fall Protection & Elevated Structures Safety Technician (SLT)
  • RIEI – Roofing Technology
  • Fall Arrest System Certified Installer
  •  Confined Space Certification
  • Safety Approved IS NetWorld Contractor
  • Live Roof System Certified Installer
  • Patented Mechanical insulation Systems
  • Energy Audit & Rebate Facilitator
  • Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) Certification
  • NASP – National Association of Safety Professionals
  • SmartAnchor™ Certification
  • Certified Installer of Duro-Last Roofing
  • Duro-Last Master Elite Contractor

Great Lakes Stainless, Inc. (GLS) is one of the top stainless steel manufacturers in the USA and has a mission to serve customers from a foundation of integrity and craftsmanship by building lasting relationships that enrich our lives and communities. They are certified ISO 9001:2008, AWS Welding Process Certification and Certified Minority Business Enterprise.

Both GLS and Springfield, Inc. have agreed to provide back-room support, infrastructure and “loaned employees” on a pro-bono basis until Springfield SmartAnchor, LLC can be self-supporting. This wealth of resources will be a tremendous asset to the start up.

Terri Jo Umlor, Chief Financial Officer at Springfield, Inc. will serve as CEO of Springfield SmartAnchor  LLC. She is so passionate about getting this product distributed widely in order to protect workers and save lives, she is leveraging her business acumen and network gained in decades in the commercial roofing industry to promote the Springfield Ladder Anchor.  She will add staff and grow the organization strategically, as the cash flow will support it.

The target demographic to build a customer base will be roofing contractors, safety directors and facility managers. Springfield Ladder Anchor will initially be distributed by Springfield, Inc. Every new roof will be installed with the safety device. A professional roofing company, Springfield has strong relationships with key customer influencers, such as facility managers, roofers, HVAC, maintenance, and construction workers. Terry Umlor, CEO of Springfield, has an established reputation as an innovator and problem solver. He will use his political capital to open doors and spread the word throughout his network.

We see the biggest challenge will be getting the safety “buy in” from smaller residential contractors who subcontract their laborers and aren’t liable for injuries and/or having people “do it” for compliance only and not really buy into the importance of embracing safety.

When we have succeeded, the 400 people that statistically die each year in fall related accidents will be returning home after work to their families; 135,000 fall related accidents per year will have been prevented; the workers that would have been seriously affected by death or injuries will be able to continue to support their families; the economy will not burdened with the estimated 54Million dollars of subsistence compounding each year to support injured/disabled workers and OSHA will no longer site falls from ladders as a leading cause of injury & death in construction.

The number of lives we protect will have a ripple effect on the families and communities we serve.  When safety directors and facility managers everywhere understand and embrace safety of their workforce – when a construction worker is viewed and someone worthy of all efforts to keep safe – we will have made our goal.

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