Where has the time gone? May definitely snuck up on me and with it many of my responsibilities and hence, the newsletter is late this month due to yours truly. I have already have a topic for the June newsletter, but as I think that topic is more appropriate there I have admittedly struggled with a topic for May. As a result you are stuck with some general musings.
Safety is always a good topic. Construction season doesn’t necessarily have a strict definition around here, but I’ve got several higher-ed projects and those spring to life as the campuses start to clear out a bit for the summer. For me, this means lots of visits to locations around the state – usually too close to fly but resulting in a 3-4 hour one-way drive. Meanwhile, it seems like MANY road construction projects have started within the loop and as usual everybody is in a hurry. It is a challenge to stay focused and safe on these trips – not only making sure you stay alert but also staying aware of other drivers who are often also unfamiliar with the construction, possible alternate routes, and no doubt distracted. Despite our best efforts we usually leave a bit later than we should and add to the mayhem. One thing I do correctly is keep my field safety gear in the trunk this time of year, and keep basic field drawings and some water handy. The goal being that at least I end up at the project site with the things I need to do my job correctly. Don’t put yourself in a position where you can’t make a proper site visit because you left some critical safety gear back at the office. At best, you’ve got another road trip to make – at worst, you convince yourself that something doesn’t really need looked at or do something without proper safety gear. Don’t do it.
A recent safety meeting I attended focused on the “Fatal Four” – the top four injuries leading to fatalities in the construction industry. Of the top 4, the top 2 are falls and being struck by objects. These 2 are probably where we as infrequent visitors to a project site are most at risk. Be aware of your surroundings and site safety requirements.
Another thought that comes to mind, during these periods of perfect weather, is the constant struggle of work-life balance. With plenty of daylight and before it gets too hot – my mind turns to all those household projects that have sat idle for the last few months. Simultaneously, the kids are wrapping up school and all the family obligations start to get put on the schedule for the summer. It’s easy to start daydreaming, especially during those long drives noted above. In addition to possibly creating another safety-reducing distraction, it makes it difficult to get all those work tasks addressed appropriately and in a timely manner. I focus on organization and task lists when the distraction level is high. I’m always interested to hear how others deal with these types of pressures.
Finally, another large batch of engineering students will enter the workforce this May. Remembering back to when I was in that situation, your dreams of where your engineering career will take you often turn out to be significantly different from how they turned out – for better and worse! I’m hoping we can get some of these new engineers to our meetings. For me, chatting with a variety of practicing engineers gave me a broad perspective of the different paths available, and certainly provided guidance for me as my career progressed. I think this is one of the best benefits of an organization such as SEAoT, and I am glad that our participation levels have been increasing. Coming out of our summer break I hope that we can focus more on getting local students involved with the chapter.
That’s it for now – thanks for reading and hope to see you at the meeting in May!