Yanik: The industry adjusts to the new normal

By |  March 24, 2020


I didn’t see this coming, but who among us did?

The coronavirus pandemic has taken hold of so many aspects of our lives. As I write this column on the morning of March 24, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports there are 33,404 coronavirus cases in the United States. Four hundred Americans have died, and the virus has reached every U.S. state.

By March 25, these numbers will undoubtedly change. And by the time April comes around, the nation may be in an entirely different place with the coronavirus.

As we’ve all experienced lately, our livelihoods are changing by the day. Fortunately, aggregate producers across the U.S. are largely operating with business as usual. Rock is still being crushed, although producers nationwide are taking new measures to keep employees safe on the job.

Rod Martin, the owner of Martin Stone Quarries in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania, notes that producers in his state are following CDC-recommended guidelines. Producers are practicing social distancing, asking employees to put six feet of space between themselves and others. Lunches are being eaten in vehicles, and shared surfaces are continuously being wiped down.

A new mindset is required to work in this environment, but safety is already priority No. 1 for our industry. So the adjustments producers make are really an extension of the policies and procedures so many already have in place.

The road ahead

While aggregate producers continue to go about their daily business, the road ahead for the industry is somewhat unknown. Construction continues to go on virtually everywhere, although that, too, could change.

Pennsylvania, for one, put a halt to its construction projects. It’s a concerning development for Martin, who serves as the board chairman of the Pennsylvania Aggregates & Concrete Association.

“It’s a shame, because in New Jersey they put a big lockdown into effect but their highway construction is still going,” Martin said during a March 23 interview. “From what they’re being told, now is a perfect time to do [construction].”

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) provided another indicator of what’s potentially to come when they published results from a March 17-19 contractor survey. According to AGC, 28 percent of contractors say an owner, government agency or official directed them to either halt or delay work on projects that are either active or expected to start within 30 days.

Moving forward, P&Q will stay on top of developments tied to the coronavirus. Keep tabs on our coverage at pitandquarry.com/coronavirus-coverage.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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