Why Wye Mom, written by Melanie Foister and Jaylynn Markwald, illustrates Lakeside Industries’ safety culture.
By Cal Beyer
Lakeside Industries is a leading hot mix asphalt producer and paving contractor in the Pacific Northwest. The company has 12 divisions and two affiliated companies in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Lakeside has approximately 700 employees and operates 17 hot mix plants and a rock crushing facility.
Lakeside Industries has a long history of safety. Over the past several years, the company has been promoting an exceptional safety culture based on engagement and empowerment of employees for safety awareness, hazard recognition, voluntary compliance and improved decision-making. The idea for a children’s safety book was spawned by an employee’s then 5-year-old son who had a book on construction safety that his mother took to share with her boss to help keep all the workers safe.
Risk Management and Safety Coordinator Melanie Foister further described this catalyst for the book: “Being that I work for the company in the office, and my husband is on one of the paving crews, it was important to our son to keep us both safe at work. So, I brought the book to my boss, Cal Beyer, director of risk management, and shared with him my son’s concern for our safety.” Foister continued, “Cal suggested that I write my own children’s book on safety in the hot mix asphalt and paving industry on safety at work, home and play.”
Foister expressed appreciation to the book’s creative team: co-workers Jaylynn Markwald, Jake Pittman, and Jaylynn’s friend, freelance illustrator Candace Strong. “We created a strong demonstration of our company’s safety culture,” Foister stated proudly.
Foister highlighted that, “the goals for this book were to reinforce the idea of a Safety 24/7 culture of safety at work, home, and play. We not only want our employees to go home safe from work each day, but also return to work safely each day as well.”
One of the co-authors, Superintendent Jaylynn Markwald, added, “We wanted to share our ideas of WYE, which stands for ‘What’s Your Exposure,’ with our family, friends, and community so that everyone is conscious of their safety at all aspects of our lives.”
Markwald further shared that the entire creative team “wanted to make sure that the book featured each aspect of asphalt production and paving.” For example, “When the mom [in the book] talks about her day, she emphasizes specific job tasks that our employees do every day. Each task is extremely important to making our company safe and successful.”
Markwald offered this as a main reason the book has been so well received: Every employee can relate to the story in some way shape or form.
Foister said she is proud that the book has been distributed initially at the company’s 56th Annual Safety Awards Brunch, the only annual company-wide event for employees and their families. Foister stated,
“We ensured that each of our 700 employees had a copy of their own, and an additional 50 copies were provided to each of our locations to share with recent retirees, contractors, neighborhood schools or libraries, and local businesses in their communities.” In addition, at least 800 copies will be distributed during the company’s student field trip program.
Markwald expressed how the book “ties everything together full circle, safety at work, home or at play and it embraces family.” She said her “favorite part about the book is if there is something in there that kids don’t understand, it requires an explanation, so when an employee reads the book they are reinforcing their knowledge about safety and setting a good example by teaching the children.”
Perhaps the biggest lesson in the children’s safety book is the importance of every employee playing a role in making safety a core value. When every employee focuses on sharing safety, a company’s safety culture flourishes and employees share creative ideas to further promote safety.
Foister and Markwald are friends on and off work. They both are proud of how they have provided a gift for Lakesiders of all ages that has been well received already throughout the company, the communities it serves and the construction industry.
Melanie Foister and Jaylynn Markwald work for Lakeside Industries. Melanie, previously a middle school teacher and mother of two, joined Lakeside in 2011. She is the risk management & safety coordinator. Through her children always asking “why?” and her family’s practices of safety 24/7 at home, she was inspired to start a story. Jaylynn is a second-generation Lakeside employee beginning her career in 2006. She has worked in various capacities, including traffic control supervisor, assistant superintendent and superintendent. Jaylynn is a passionate safety advocate and serves as a long-term chairperson of her divisional safety committee.