Oct 23, 2023
Have They Outlawed Common Sense Yet?
We don’t all see the same issues in the same light, but I’d like to think the asphalt paving industry is one that can come together with common sense and best practices to build and maintain infrastructure wisely. We have the opportunity in the United States to lobby our representatives for change—and I bet a few of them still listen.
Even if a majority of the “representatives” north of Richmond have stopped caring what the commoners outside of D.C. want or need, we have communities around us that need our services. And our commonsense ability to get the job done right, safely, in a timely fashion, without the constraint of ungainly mandates works in our favor out here in the trenches. I think there are entities referring to that as the parallel economy and the concept is intriguing.
There’s always that slim chance that one of the contractors available to bid on or perform a local job might cut corners. I’ll keep this anecdote vague to avoid besmirching a specific contractor’s hiring practices (and to avoid litigation), but during the mid 2010s, a pavement maintenance contractor in the southern portion of Florida employed a crew that “saved some time” at the end of a shift by dumping out what was alleged to be a tar-based sealcoating product into a pond rather than returning to headquarters and cleaning out tanks and equipment with proper, safe material handling protocol at the shop.
When fish in the pond died off, an investigation ensued.
It was a bad look for the industry. It left other members of the Southwest Florida pavement maintenance community to assure agencies, regulators and customers alike that not all sealcoat products pose a danger to wildlife. Not all pavement maintenance contractors have workers who take shortcuts—no matter what product they have in their tanks. For a contractor to show disregard for the environment or community is a rare occurrence. (Notice I had to go back to the mid-2010s for the example.) Just look at last month’s editor’s note to see how it’s more common for construction industry employees to jump in to rescue and assist others.
What disheartens me about the climate wherein we do business today is the supposition from lawmakers that business owners won’t do the right thing for workers, neighbors, communities, the environment, the world, and so on. It’s frustrating to look around and see the Angry Keyboard Warrior mentality taking up residence in the humans who are standing before legislators demanding more mandates, more laws, more regulations on an industry that’s already cleaned up the environment. Has no one noticed that the trucking industry alone has, as ATA Director Chris Spear recently pointed out, “eliminated 98.5% of everything that comes out of the tailpipe” in the past couple decades?
Most pavement maintenance, pavement preservation, and paving contractors employ excellent common sense. They don’t need it mandated to them. They need to be allowed to use it for the good of the industry and of the communities they pave and maintain.