'The Little Things are the Big Things'

Martin Marietta's Vance Quarry Celebrates
500,000 Hours without a Lost-time Incident

It’s time for a little safety exercise.

Take a moment to imagine the safest mining operation you can. Go ahead. Close your eyes. We’ve got time. …

Do the grounds and equipment not only meet, but exceed Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) standards?

Is the crew of varied experience levels and dedicated to a robust safety culture?

Do the members of that crew look out for each other as they would a brother or sister?

There are hundreds of Martin Marietta sites that could pass as your dream safety operation, but if you live or work near Vance, Alabama, you probably pictured Vance Quarry, where a crew of 15 employees who have achieved world-class safety recently surpassed 500,000 work hours without a lost-time incident.

Josh Sloan, a mechanic at Vance for the past three years, said the team constantly prioritizes safety and leaves no detail to chance when preparing for a task.

“The little things are the big things,” he said. “If you take care of the little things first, the big things fall right into place.”

Vice President-General Manager Steve Reel shakes hands with Vance Quarry Plant Manager Tony Gay.

It’s that type of diligence that has allowed the team to enjoy more than 12 years without a lost-time injury, an achievement they celebrated during an April 7 luncheon with Southeast Division President Joe Reilly, Martin Marietta’s Vice President of Safety and Health Michael Hunt, HR/Safety Director for the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast divisions Carlton Brady, Vice President-General Manager of the Alabama and North Georgia districts Steve Reel, District Production Manager John Stalcup and HR/Safety Manager Allen Owen. A number of representatives from MSHA’s Southeastern District Office also attended, including District Manager Sam Pierce and Supervisory Mine Inspector Rory Smith.

Vance employees were each presented with a golf shirt during the luncheon along with a Martin Marietta tumbler and a Visa gift card.

Plant Manager Tony Gay said the extra attention is well deserved.

“Our team ranges in experience. Our most senior person has been here for 20 years and our newest employee was hired just a month ago,” he said. “No matter how long they’ve been here, they know there’s no job we do that’s important enough for us to compromise our safety. If we can’t find a safe way to do the job, we won’t do it.”

One of several contributing factors to the team’s safety success is the Guardian Angel safety program, which Gay said has been widely embraced since its introduction in 2015.

Brian Garner, a quality control technician at Vance for nearly four years, said he and his co-workers practice Guardian Angel every day and benefit particularly from the program’s wingman element.

“We’ve created a family-like atmosphere,” he said. “Everyone feels as though they’re family with the person next to them and you always protect your family because they’re the people who mean the most to you.”

Stalcup, the district production manager, was quick to note that Vance’s success comes on the heels of 500,000-hour safety celebrations at three other Alabama locations – Maylene Quarry (no reportable incidents) and Auburn and O’Neal quarries (no lost-time incidents).

While praising the employees as the driving force behind the area’s safety achievements, Stalcup said management at each site has also worked together to provide outstanding leadership.

“These operations share people, equipment, ideas and experiences – whatever it takes for things to run smoothly,” he said. “But this success is also about people believing in what we’re doing and believing in a culture that values what’s right and values what’s safe.”

Vance Quarry Employees

Alphabetically: Patricio Arellano, Gary Wayne Banks, Sheldon Dean, Dylan Ellenburg, Brandon Epperson, Travis Freeman, Brian Garner, Tony Gay, Nathan Ray Hicks, James Horn, Jason Lutz, Mary Alice Patterson, Ashley Ramsey, Joshua Sloan, Chris Whitehorn

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