Members of this Nuclear Pipe Shop welding crew take pride in working safely and looking out for one another. Photo by Nicholas Langhorne

Ownership and Accountability Keep Team Safe

Published August 9, 2022

Newport News Shipbuilding’s Nuclear Pipe Shop provides critical components for every program in the shipyard. Shipbuilders in the shop know their work is vital to national security. They also know working safely and preventing accidents is just as important.

“Our crew is quick to hold each other accountable if somebody is not doing the right thing. Everybody takes it in stride. Nobody gets bent out of shape. They’re just looking out for one another,” said Foreman Ryan Leroux, who leads a crew of welders in the Nuclear Pipe Shop. “Ownership and accountability have been big for our crew. Keeping things the way they need to be and correcting things on the spot.”

That ownership and accountability has helped keep the crew accident free for nearly nine years. Leroux has led the team for about a year. He took over after the former foreman, Billy Davis – who also set the tone for a safe workplace – retired.

James E. Holland Jr., who has worked on the welding crew the entire time it has been accident free, said it’s important to lead by example.

“If you have good leadership that is pushing safety, it gets ingrained in you,” he said. “As long as everything is done like it’s supposed to be, you can go home at the end of the day with no injuries. And when you do the right thing, you can help somebody else do the right thing.”

Michael Taylor, another welder on the crew, said his family is one of the reasons he always works safe.

“You have to pay attention to detail, pay attention to your surroundings and just listen,” he said. “I carry this home with me, and I tell my kids to keep their shoes off the stairs and things like that.”

General Foreman Rob Teel said teams at work spend so much time together, they can become like family. “You really have to look at everything almost as if you’re surrounded by family all the time,” he said. “You don’t want to get hurt yourself, but you also don’t want others around