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“We’re only going to walk around. What’s the big deal here?”

By Theresa Trant

Matt recently wrote about construction safety. I experienced this first hand last week. Here’s my story.

I toured a construction site with a co-worker. We figured we’d just put on our steel toed boots, see what we wanted to see and then be on our way. Not much prep work needed. After all we were just planning to walk around; not operating machinery.

I guess I was a little naive about touring a construction site.

Before entering the site we were handed hard hats, reflective vests and protective eyewear. Then, it was off to a trailer to go over the safety rules. I remembered thinking, “We’re only going to walk around. What’s the big deal here?”

I can tell you it ended up being a big deal; thinking about safety that is.

“Simply walking around the site” was an understatement. My co-worker and I found ourselves walking through eight inches of thawing muddy ground trying to keep our balance. Our guide didn’t seem to have a problem but being office folk we obviously hadn’t toned up our ‘balancing’ muscle groups.


Next, we had to climb through hanging tarps to check out the interior of a structure which was aligned with heating pipes and more tarps. Between the uneven, thawing ground and areas of pooled water it was like walking on a waterbed mattress. I made sure I didn’t venture too far into the structure for fear I might be swallowed up in the hundreds of feet of tarps.

Moving to the upper floor involved climbing a narrow temporary metal staircase. By this time my boots were caked in mud. Try navigating up narrow stairs when your foot is two times bigger than normal because you are taking half the earth with you. I don’t think I’ve ever gone up stairs so carefully and slowly in my life. Not even when I was nine months pregnant.


Thank goodness the upper floor was cemented; no mud, no tarps. My co-worker and I were able to walk around with ease. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long because the only way to get down and back to the trailer was via those narrow stairs.

So much for thinking there wasn’t much prep work involved in the tour.

On hindsight the equipment given to us was no surprise. But what really struck me was the constant risk of injury simply by walking around. An activity which I normally don’t give much thought to became one of constant awareness. One where I needed to watch where I was stepping and what was around me.

This tour was not so much one of seeing what we needed to see; but rather, one of acute awareness. This is a daily exercise for construction workers.

Hats off (actually, really keep them on) to our construction workers!


Want to learn more about construction site safety? This construction safety guide was developed in memory of a construction worker who died on the job: or connect with Alberta’s Construction Safety Association at

Share your construction story by leaving a comment below or sending us a tweet @HeadsUpAB

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