VAA Virginia Asphalt Fall/Winter 2022

VAASPHALT.ORG 07 In our industry, we struggle to attract new talent because the hours are often long, days are hot, and the weather wreaks havoc on our efforts, all followed by winter layoffs. On top of that, the work we do is inherently dangerous. Our teams deal with distracted drivers who pay little to no attention to the traffic control measures we install. That is why it is of the utmost importance that we provide our people— our most valuable assets—with the safest environment possible to ensure everyone goes home at the end of each shift. When I think about safety, I think back to my younger days. As a child, I was blessed with parents who instilled in me a sense of pride in all my endeavors. Their lessons included doing things right the first time and being safe along the way. This pride has served me well throughout my career, and I believe it significantly impacts how I face each day at work. Over the years, I have seen that same sense of pride in employees throughout our industry. When talking with different crews, it is easy to see how committed they are to having each other’s backs. Their commitment is visible when the “seasoned vet” demonstrates the proper use of the shovel to spread asphalt to a new team member, and in the reminder that PPE is their personal protective equipment, so use it! These simple actions show care for safety and work done well, and they build cohesion until the crew begins acting as a successful unit. W-L Construction & Paving has implemented several proactive initiatives in regards to employee engagement, with the understanding that each employee is not only responsible for their own safety but also the safety of their team. One management- led initiative is “See, Stop, Do” Day. Each month on this day, management spends the day in the field with our crews discussing essential safety topics, one of the most important being “if you see something amiss, stop and do something about it.” It is a time for employees to engage in conversation with top management, asking questions, lifting concerns and sharing personal stories. It is also an opportunity for leaders to address any safety concerns, reiterate the importance of safe practices, and get to know employees personally. It sends a clear message that safety is the #1 priority. All of our actions have consequences, even our choice to get up and go to work in the morning. Most will say the reason they do any job is for the money; but, when you dig deeper, there’s always more to it. For me, I love the challenge and the opportunity to make a difference each day. As a son, I want to make my parents proud. As CHAIRMAN’S PERSPECTIVE Be the Difference Chris Blevins, PE, Vice President, W-L Construction & Paving, Inc. a husband, I want to make my wife proud. As a father, I want to make my kids proud. As a grandfather… you get the picture. I leave you with this: think of something at work this week that made you happy. If you are honest, I bet money was not the first thing that popped into your mind! While you may work for your salary, it is likely not the primary thing that makes you happy. It is the random thank you from a co-worker, your boss acknowledging your hard work, or the satisfaction of a job well done. I challenge you to hold on to that thought and use it to fuel your commitment to making a difference in your workgroup. Be the reason that all go home safely at the end of each day. There are a number of reasons our working environment is dangerous, but even one person can make a difference by doing things safely and with pride. Make safety your #1 priority. All of our actions have consequences, even our choice to get up and go to work in the morning. Most will say the reason they do any job is for the money; but, when you dig deeper, there's always more to it. Chris and Jennifer at Dallas Cowboys home field