McCormick Taylor employees have transitioned into the new normal of conducting work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the changes, our staff finds ways to stay productive, healthy, and connected. Below is a day in the life of Luz Vega, a Construction Inspector out of our Baltimore, MD office.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
In 2008, I started with the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) as a Transportation Engineering Technician. I drafted the plans for bridge and culvert repairs, assisted the inspection crew, reviewed their reports, and made repair recommendations. This was difficult in the beginning because I knew nothing about engineering. After about three years with MDOT SHA, I started working as a consultant with MDOT SHA District 4. I was the assistant to the area engineers within the construction department. After several years working in the office and upon completion of my degree, I felt that I needed a change. I wanted to learn more about construction, so I decided to go out in the field and become a Construction Inspector. I have been doing this for the past three years, and I learn new things every day.
What are your job responsibilities?
As a Construction Inspector, it is my responsibility to make sure that the contractor adheres to the state’s standards and specifications. In order to be a Construction Inspector, you must maintain certifications in pavement markings, erosion and sediment control, maintenance of traffic, asphalt, concrete, and OSHA 10. I inspect everything from concrete pours to excavation, support of excavation, backfilling, paving and resurfacing, pile driving, steel, curb and gutter, drainage, and installation of lighting and wiring.
Can you tell us a little about the project you’re working on?
I am currently working on the replacement of dual bridges, the extension of a box culvert, and the widening of ramps and a roadway.
How has working in the field been different during COVID-19?
Working in the field has become harder during COVID-19. Before, I only had to focus on inspecting and job safety. The minute the governor mandated a stay-at-home order, anxiety kicked in. Now, I also have to worry about a virus, and I can't hide from it at home.
Having to work while wearing a mask, sanitizing everything, social distancing, and communicate with the contractor took some getting used to. Working the day shift is worse because you have to wear a mask in 90-degree weather. After months of wearing masks and social distancing, it has become the norm. Now it’s a natural reaction to grab my mask when I grab my hardhat.
How do you stay connected with coworkers, friends and family?
I see coworkers on the site but I call and video chat with family and friends regularly. I have two nephews whose first birthdays we couldn't celebrate in person. I received a video of one of them taking their first steps and it broke my heart to know that I am missing out on them growing up.
I try to see my mom as much as possible because I know she gets emotional if she doesn’t get to see her children or grandchildren. Of course, we wear masks and disinfect the room we are in or we sit outside with our masks. I just recently had to drop off my youngest child to college. This should be an exciting milestone, but instead I am worried for her safety and health. The college rule is that she can not come home until November in order to reduce her exposure to COVID-19.
How do you recharge or take a break?
The number one thing I do to recharge is sleep in whenever I get the chance. On my days off, I do work around the house. I am almost done with painting the interior of the house. I just purchased it at the end of January, so now I’m painting, decorating, and doing landscape work to my liking.
What’s your favorite thing about working at McCormick Taylor?
My favorite thing about working for McCormick Taylor is how they genuinely care about their employees. During my quarantine and after my children tested positive, my construction manager, Don Smith, kept in constant contact with me. The company also wants to see their employees progress, which is very important.
What’s something new that you have learned during this time?
I haven’t had the time or opportunity to learn a new skill or hobby because I have been working throughout the pandemic. However, what I have learned is that once this is all over, I will change my introvert ways. Before this, friends and family had to beg me to get out of the house. When this is all over, I will get out there and make new memories and enjoy quality time with people.