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Mega-events such as the Pan American Games in 2007 and the FIFA Confederation Cup in 2013 translated into an era of massive construction for Brazil. In the late 2000’s Brazil was on an economic hot streak. Fast paced construction was the driving force of the Brazilian economy. Projects such as large hydropower dams, railways, oil rigs and offshore platforms all contributed to the prosperity of the country.

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In 2011, Brazil’s thriving economy began to fail; income rates decreased and unemployment rose. Oil prices fell, shipyards closed and office buildings and hotels were left empty as hopes of a continuing boom died. Coordination between city, state and federal governments became increasingly difficult and construction projects began to lag behind.

 

In June 2016, the acting governor of Rio declared a state of financial disaster and requested $900 million in federal funding.  Combined with completing construction projects related to the Olympics, Brazil also faced political and health crises. The President and other members of Congress were under investigation for corruption and with one-quarter of Zika virus cases occurring in Rio, completing necessary construction projects for the upcoming Olympics was a major concern.

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Under pressure, workers were expected to put in overtime which far surpassed the maximum 10-hour shifts stipulated by law. There was a lack of required safety equipment on sites and over 600 workers were hired informally. Accidents increased and when the Ministry of Labor conducted over 260 audits and inspections between January 2013 and March 2016, a total of 1,675 infractions were found and 38 temporary suspensions were issued on construction.

 

It was difficult to enforce regulations due to outsourcing by the main companies heading the construction projects. There was a lack of integration and it was not uncommon to find 50 companies working on one site. The tragedy of these issues is that 11 workers died on the job during construction for the Rio Olympics since January 2013.

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When the Olympic Games finally approached, construction workers were still putting the finishing touches on several Olympic sites. The velodrome was completed in the nick of time and workers were still completing work on the Olympic Village right up until the Games started. Projects that were completed were not always up to par as evidenced when an elevated waterfront bike path collapsed into the sea when it failed to withstand a large wave. Concerns over water pollution, unrest, and crime all contributed to the serious problems Rio faced as the host city for the Games.


From a different perspective, many people believe that Rio 2016 was successful as it implemented reusable construction projects. The handball court is an example of what is called nomadic architecture. After the Games, it will be dismantled and the materials will be used to help build four schools. For a country that has spent billions of dollars amid a period of economic crisis, it remains to be seen what challenges Brazil will face in the future.

 


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Hazards during excavations can lead to serious incidents involving workers at construction sites. Trenches are the most serious threat as workers can be critically injured or die in cave-ins. Hazards such as falling into trenches or excavations, tripping over debris, objects falling on workers, exposure to underground services or overhead electrical cables, unstable adjacent structures, hazardous atmosphere such as toxic or explosive gasses and incidents involving vehicles and other mobile equipment all pose serious threats to safety.

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Many workers may have a casual attitude toward safety, on the part of both employers and workers as they believe a cave-in will not happen to them. Because they believe cave-ins rarely occur, they are willing to enter an unprotected trench for a short time. A single cubic yard of dirt can weigh between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds depending on the soil type and moisture content which highlights the importance of protecting workers from cave-ins. Statistics from the US indicate that cave-ins caused 67% of excavation injuries.  Injuries from backhoes were the second leading cause of injuries.  With these facts in mind, here are five ways to prevent injuries during excavation:

 

  1. Having a plan in place prior to excavation is the first step towards ensuring injuries or emergencies do not occur. Knowing in advance what tools and equipment are needed contributes to safety. Both workers, employers and project designers should be involved in identifying and implementing proper safety practices. Provide all employees with information regarding health and safety or safe work policies specific to the workplace. Workers should be advised of any potential health or safety dangers and appropriate precautions such as wearing personal protective equipment should be taken.

  2. Use protective systems against trench or excavation cave-ins. Sloping which involves cutting back trench walls at an angle should be inclined away from the excavation. Shoring using timber and hydraulic systems should be used as supports to shore up walls. Using prefabricated support systems such as trench boxes and shields can also be used for safety. Prior to excavation, strip the walls of trenches of any loose rock that may slide or fall on workers. Inspect trenches at the beginning of shifts and following heavy rainstorms.

  3. Mark and locate utilities before excavation.  Employers must ensure that all gas, electrical and other services are located or marked in or near the area to be excavated.  If a service poses a hazard, it must be shut off and disconnected before the excavation begins.

  4. Ensure that workers do not enter unprotected trenches. Trenches l.5 meters deep or greater require a protective system unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock. There must be safe access to all excavations, including ladders, steps, ramps or other safe means of exit for employees working in trench excavations. Keep the area around the excavation free of debris or construction material.

 

Operate and use all equipment in a safe manner. Defects in equipment should be reported to supervisors or employers. Be aware of mobile equipment or vehicles which can cause the soil to vibrate.

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Taking reasonable precautions during excavation ensures that a project proceeds in a safe manner for everyone involved. Incidents at the work site are minimized and injuries are less likely to occur when safe work practices are followed.

 

Do you have more safety tips to add to this post? Reach out to us on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter, or contact us here
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The economic downturn has certainly affected Alberta’s economy, but despite setbacks, construction projects are continuing to thrive. As the economy moves towards recovery here are some current interesting projects that are having a positive impact on the Alberta economy.

 

1. The North West Bitumen Refinery Phase 1

 

Alberta’s first refinery to be built in more than 30 years is located approximately 45 km northeast of Edmonton in Sturgeon County. The North West Redwater Partnership’s project is dedicated to maximizing the efficient use of resources. With the environment in mind, the refinery will provide integration of gasification with carbon capture and storage. 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 will be captured yearly while products such as bitumen will be converted into ultra low sulphur diesel and other products. The location of the refinery further contributes to the environmental footprint as local resources can be easily accessed and close proximity to major crude oil and diluent pipelines is advantageous.  The first phase is expected to be completed in September 2017 and approximately 3,500 workers are bused to and from the site daily.  The estimated cost of this project is 8.5 billion dollars.

 

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2.  Edmonton Office Tower

 

The 27 storey tower developed by the Katz Group/WAM Development Group is expected to be finished in November 2016. Approximately 2,300 city employees will share the space with the private sector. The building features large floor plates where several city departments can interact. Located at 104 Ave and 101 St., the main level will include retail shopping and other services. The estimated cost of the project is 300 million dollars.

 

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3.  Composting Facility, Shepard Landfill

 

In 2015, the work began on the City of Calgary’s new organics composting facility. It is expected to open mid-2017 and will be the largest of its kind in Canada. The facility will be able to produce high-quality compost from food and yard waste as well as dewatered biosolids. The facility is located south of 114th Avenue in South East Calgary and will consist of three buildings...the main building, curing building and storage building.  The total square footage of the facility is 521,000 square feet. Calgary city council approved a capital budget of 143 million dollars.

 

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4.  University of Lethbridge Destination Project

 

The University of Lethbridge is developing a new science and academic addition to their campus.  The centre will be 36,000 sq metres in size and will become a science centre for southern Alberta.  With education, resources, and training unmatched anywhere in the world, the centre incorporates some unique features such as floating meeting rooms and a winter garden.  It will provide an interactive and educational experience for students and visitors. The estimated cost of development is 200 million dollars and is expected to be completed in 2019.

 

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5.  Zoo Redevelopment Phase 1

 

The Calgary Zoo has a two-phase plan for redeveloping and improving their facility. At a development cost of $162 million, the First Phase will include changes to the areas of Destination Africa as well as the Shadow of the Himalayas.  The zoo plans to develop the area of the Himalayas to provide a home for giant pandas expected in 2018. Also included in the development are the Gardens area which includes the Enmax Conservatory. The project is expected to be completed in 2018.

 

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Do you have more current construction projects to add to this story? Reach out to us on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter, or contact us here

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With the uncertainty of the economy in Alberta, making decisions regarding career and job choices is becoming more and more difficult. There is no assurance that jobs will be available and it may be time to re-evaluate the belief that a university education guarantees a secure future. People have always sought the ultimate white collar job as the perfect career goal. As the economy changes, here are some reasons to consider working in a skilled trade as a career choice.

 

1. For anyone considering their options, expensive tuition fees for post-secondary education can be a deterrent.  On average, a university student currently pays $7,000 per year for tuition fees. Add living expenses to the budget, and total costs become extremely high.  According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the average Canadian student owes around $27,000 after graduating. This translates to paying student loan payments of $300 per month for a decade. Starting a career with debt makes it difficult to move forward financially especially when you factor in life goals such as buying a home or having a family.

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2. With more than 50 trades and occupations in the construction industry to choose from, pursuing an apprenticeship is a good option to consider.  If you become an apprentice, you will begin earning money immediately. Obviously, the rate of pay is less than what a journeyman makes, but each year of apprenticeship means an increase in salary. Training programs associated with getting a trade are shorter in duration, therefore the educational expenses incurred are much less. The long-term benefits of becoming a skilled tradesman are apparent when income potential is considered….most trades pay very well and there are opportunities for advancement or becoming self-employed.  

 

3. The demand for skilled workers has continued to increase even during periods of economic decline.Canada is a resource-rich country and many huge construction projects are centered on resources. This creates a variety of job opportunities and an opportunity to relocate to different areas within Canada.  

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4.Given the nature of construction, things are always changing as is the potential of finding a variety of work opportunities.  With so many options, work is never boring. Finding work in other countries is also possible... trades are in demand all over the world.

 

5. The number one factor in job satisfaction is being able to use your skills and abilities.  Finding a way to use your skills can make you more passionate about your work.  When you are working with your hands, it is not so easy to disengage from what you are doing. There is a satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from manual work that simply cannot be achieved in any other setting.  In addition, when work is done, you can go home content with the work day being over….no e-mails and after hours communication with the office.  You aren’t always “plugged in” and have a better chance to refresh your body and mind for the next day’s work.  

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For too long skilled trades have been neglected.  The tide appears to be turning as blue collar work offers real advantages over white collar work.  Factors such as job availability, good pay, job security and benefits all contribute to a high rate of job satisfaction. The benefits of working in the skilled trades deserves serious consideration.

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Almost everyone today can relate to stress. Coping with the demands of everyday life is sometimes overwhelming and most of us don’t even realize how stressed we are. In simple terms, stress is our body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. Our body releases stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which make our hearts beat faster and muscles tighten. Blood pressure rises, breath quickens and our senses become sharper.  The nervous system rouses for emergency action, preparing you to either fight or flee from what is perceived as a threat.  When stress becomes unmanageable, it can lead to serious mental and physical health problems. Effects of chronic stress can lead to problems such as depression and anxiety, auto immune diseases, pain, heart disease, digestive problems, sleep problems and cognitive and memory problems.

 

Work related stress is often brought on by fear of being laid off, more overtime due to cutbacks, pressure to perform or pressure to work at optimum levels. Construction workers are vulnerable to work-related injuries and pain and often put themselves at risk for more injuries and mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. The industry has one of the highest rates of work-related injuries and also has a high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain among its workers.  A 2012 study found that 40% of workers over age 50 had chronic back pain and 45% were more likely to be diagnosed with depression than non-injured workers.  

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In addition to physical stress, construction workers often feel pressure when projects fall behind.  Delays and tight deadlines increase the amount of stress on workers and working overtime hours is often necessary to meet demands. Working long hours sometimes involves shift work which creates another set of stressors. Job security, worry about finances and physically demanding work all contribute to cumulative stress which is often overlooked or ignored.

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Identifying factors that create stress is the first step in initiating change.  We may not be able to control the circumstances of our life but we can be proactive in how we manage stress. Here are some simple suggestions for coping with stress that can make a world of difference:

  • Exercise: activities such as walking, running, swimming and other aerobic exercises are good choices to shift the feeling of immobilization that a stress response creates

  • Engage socially: interaction with other people who listen and relate can quickly put the breaks on the stress response

  • Set aside time for relaxation: take up meditation, yoga or deep breathing to help your body initiate a relaxation response

  • Eat a healthy diet: minimize sugar and refined carbs, eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost (i.e. salmon, herring, sardines, flaxseed, and walnuts)

  • Get plenty of sleep: feeling tired can increase stress by causing irrational thinking...avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime and aim for at least 6 hours of sleep per night

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Keeping a balanced life can all contribute to effectively dealing with stress.  At work, try to break projects into small steps and take scheduled breaks.  If you can, delegate responsibility and resist the urge to set unrealistic goals.  Don’t try to control the uncontrollable and keep your sense of humor -- lightening the mood has a positive impact on most workplace environments.

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At Taurus, we pride ourselves on the comprehensive Global Code of Conduct policy that guides our day-to-day operations. We work together as a collective to prioritize safe, ethical practices in our daily routine, and our Code of Conduct acts as a reference for any questionable situation an employee, client, or business partner may be involved in. Taurus is committed to delivering sustained growth through empowered people acting with responsibility and building trust, and we can't do that without a total team effort day in and day out.

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How We Treat Each Other

First and foremost, safety is our primary concern for everyone on or near a job site. Each one of us is expected to take every safety precaution necessary to ensure a safe and secure workplace for all. We ask all employees to always speak up and raise a concern if there is ever a task being done that they consider unsafe or a vehicle or piece of equipment that's not operating properly. As a result of this policy, Taurus offers several channels to seek guidance, raise a concern, or file a report through our anonymous Speak Up program. Safety is everyone's responsibility, and you must insist that work is done safely no matter what your job is. 

Taurus employees and representatives are also expected to show respect and act with integrity in the workplace, ensure ethics in our business relationships, and perform work responsibly for our shareholders. We have detailed anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and anti-violence policies that ensure all staff equal opportunity and a safe work environment.  

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How We Treat Our Clients and Suppliers

Our contracts with customers always reflect the importance and value we place on their business. Integrity in the marketplace requires all Taurus employees to treat customers fairly, ethically, and in compliance with all applicable laws. When dealing with clients, we ask our employees to always earn their business on the basis of superior products, customer service, and competitive prices, present our services and products in an honest and forthright manner and deliver on our promises. 

At Taurus, we hold our suppliers to the same standards of integrity we hold ourselves. All suppliers must adhere to our Supplier Code of Conduct in order to do business with us. An unethical or illegal act of a supplier may hurt Taurus's reputation as a world-class company and cause a loss of goodwill in the communities we serve. 

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How We Treat Our Community

Taurus' role in the community is guided by the principles of Performance with Purpose that has four core concepts - Performance, and Human, Environmental, and Talent Sustainability. Performance is our ongoing dedication to delivering financial results and ensuring long-term profitable growth; human is our commitment to providing customers with a variety of product and service choices to help them lead healthier lives; environmental is the way we protect earth's natural resources through innovation and efficient processes; and finally, talent sustainability refers to how Taurus invests in our associates to develop skills while creating employment opportunities in our community. 

 

If you're interested in finding out more about how we incorporate our values into daily operations check out our Global Code of Conduct policy, reach out us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, or contact us here!

 

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The British referendum that took place just a few short weeks ago has already had its impact felt the world over. Soon after the United Kingdom decided to exit the European Union with a narrow 52% majority, the British pound and Canadian dollar plummeted, as did stock markets worldwide. The next few months will see increased fiscal conservatism as international markets wait to see how the dust settles from this unexpected decision that will have a huge impact on Europe’s economic outlook. Investors will be drawn to “safe” investments like government bonds and the steady U.S. dollar, which would further strengthen American currency and put downward pressure on oil prices. The decision will have serious implications for British exporters and European trade partners that must arrange new deals with the newly independent nation - but what does this mean for Canadians?

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Brexit most immediately impacts Canada’s trade relationship with the United Kingdom and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union currently set to take effect late 2017. New independent trade agreements must be made between Canada and our third highest trade and investment partner, the United Kingdom, that was responsible for exporting nearly $16 billion worth of Canadian goods in 2015. These new trade deals can take decades to form, and the Canadian federal government has already said that they’re not willing to renegotiate the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement in place with the European Union to compensate for Brexit.

CETA will be the most far-reaching deal this country has concluded in decades, and would eliminate duties on tens of thousands of products, covering more than 95 percent of everything Canada now sells to Europe. It would provide Canadian-based auto manufacturers, as well as beef and pork producers, with significant access to EU markets. However, with Britain exiting the European Union and subsequently the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, we’ll no longer be able to access their 60 million citizens that account for roughly 20% of the EU’s annual economic impact. Alongside a complicated trade situation, Canadians could very likely see negative impacts on investments tied up in the United Kingdom through retirement funds like the Canada Pension Plan. The CPP has $20 billion (approximately 7.5% of assets) in the UK, and financial instability in Britain could spell trouble for Canadian foreign investment.

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While Canada will undoubtedly feel some effect from Britain’s exit of the European Union, we are by no means getting the worst of it. British exporters like Brammer, a British supplier of industrial gear for factories in Europe, have to scramble as share prices have fallen by two-thirds since voting day. Certain Canadian industries could actually benefit from the global market uncertainty, with interest rates set to hold at all time lows and mortgage rates falling accordingly. This is good news for our residential construction industry; further fuelling Canada’s strong domestic housing market. With any luck, our strong housing market could be a stabilizing factor during this time of great international uncertainty.

 

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Canada’s construction industry is subject to the influence of local, national, and international markets, just like any other major industry that actively contributes to our economy. A rapidly diminishing workforce due to retirement, a complicated situation in Alberta’s oilfield, and a waning demand in the new housing market are just a few of the challenges Canada’s construction industry will face in the near future.

 

1. Worker shortages and skilled labour challenges

 

The biggest challenge facing Canada’s construction industry is offsetting a rapidly aging workforce. There’s a need to replace approximately 210,000 workers that are retiring in order to fulfil building needs before 2021. Replacing 24% of the workforce over the next few years will be a difficult challenge because of a diminishing pool of young job seekers

 

There’s also a need for skilled workers in the electrical generation and transmission, mining, and oil and gas pipeline industries. If Canada’s construction industry is to have any chance of keeping up with demand, we must focus on training, labour mobility, and immigration while retaining the experienced, specialized workers currently in the industry.

 

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2. A complicated situation in Alberta’s oilfield

 

Alberta has risen to the challenge of the ebbs and flows of construction cycles before, but we haven’t faced a situation this complex in several decades. Labour requirements in oilfield construction are set to decrease 28% from the peak in 2014 to 2020. Low oil prices also prompted a decline in engineering, institutional, and industrial construction that’s set to hold steady through to 2019.

 

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3. Demand for new housing slowing down, despite slight growth in renovation work

 

Steady growth for renovation work in the residential construction industry isn’t enough to combat the decrease in demand for new housing developments. Total residential construction is set to fall by 9,000 jobs between now and 2019. Mortgage rates are expected to increase, which will put pressure on Canadian household budgets. International regulators are also worried about the temperamental Canadian housing market and are beginning to implement policies to weaken it.

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Despite these challenges, the construction industry is countering the downward fluctuations with major infrastructure projects, sustaining capital, and maintenance work that supports Canada’s new resource capacity. Despite oil investments declining, opportunities in pipeline, transportation systems, electricity generation and distribution projects are on the rise. The federal government promoted these important drivers of labour market demands during their election campaign, and government investment in infrastructure couldn’t come at a better time for Canada’s construction industry.

 

Have something to add to this story? Reach out to us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter!

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In the construction industry it is important to be up to date with what is happening in your local area, province, country, and the rest of the world. It is a highly competitive market and if you want to be a leader, you have to put in the time to fully understand every aspect of the business world you are operating in. To help you do this, we've compiled 10 of the best construction resources you can find online. 

 

Journal of Commerce

The Journal of Commerce has been delivering essential construction news and tender information to western Canada's construction industry for well over a 100 years. They publish twice weekly and offer a range of easily navigable topics and subject matter. Fully comprehensive with just about everything you need to know about the industry in Western Canada. Sponsored content, procurement perspectives, interviews, regular segments such as “construction corner” and much more characterize a site that you could spend hours in.

Twitter

One of the best ways to stay up to date with any aspect of the world is through twitter. Log on and start follow organizations, news agencies, contractors, co-workers, and people of interest. Eventually you will become part of a online twitterverse community, with up to the second knowledge of what is happening in the industry. 

As this is the second part of our "staying up to date" series, here's part one, that looks at the 10 best construction accounts on twitter!


Canada Green Building Council

The CGBC is your source for everything green when it comes to construction in Canada. Since 2002, they have been working to advance green building and sustainable community development practices across Canada. They are a non-profit organization that has grown to become an authority in sustainable development. If you are thinking of building green, this should be your first stop.


CCD Canada

CCD is a Canadian day-to-day surveillance tool for construction and investment projects in the industrial and real estate world. They publish a comprehensive list of projects in Canada, featuring information and data on commercial, industrial, institutional, multi-residential, and civil projects; whether for construction, modernization or major supplies. This database is consulted by a client base comprised of architects, engineers, contractors, manufacturers and distributors of products and services.


Alberta Construction Magazine

For everything in Alberta construction this digital magazine is the destination. It's Alberta's only business magazine devoted to covering the construction industry. Reporting on the latest commercial, industrial, and institutional projects, association news, environmental design, and project management strategies for over 35 years. It takes the pulse of the market, monitors the trends, and celebrates the industry's movers and shakers. This magazine will give you the local perspective that may not be found in other magazines.


On-Site

As one of Canada's main construction magazines, it offers a plethora of easily accessible online content.  The user friendly layout of the website allows for easy navigation, and the feel that you are reading a magazine rather than conducting research. With plenty of news, features, products, events, and videos to choice from, it's a great stop for any construction enthusiast. 


Construction Canada

Another one of Canada's best online construction magazines gives you another option for finding material that suits your needs and interests. Full disclosure: it isn't as user friendly as On-site, but is still chalked full of great articles and information. One thing to note is that it has a bigger focus on the design aspects of construction. Interior layout and design, exterior architecture, appliances, etc. It also gives you access to a job board for those in employment transition.


Construction Knowledge.net

Although the layout of the website isn't anything to write home about, the information on it is. For those just getting into the industry or are looking to get ahead, this website offers technical know how, tips, learning resources, experiential accounts, skills, and information on all aspects of construction. Worth a look if you think you are in need of some personal improvement.


LinkedIn

If you are looking to connect and build business relationships with other companies, organizations, co-workers, clients, or other company employees LinkedIn is a fantastic resource to use. One of the toughest aspects of running a company is proper recruiting. LinkedIn brings qualified people to you, and allows you to find possible candidates with ease.

Enjoyed the article? Add us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, or if you're interested in working with us, contact us here!

 


 

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At Taurus Projects, we have our pulse on our industry. We are constantly striving to stay up to date on who to follow, what publications to watch or read, and the latest in the construction industry, whether it's in the general construction industry or the Alberta construction industry. 

One of the best ways to stay up to date on everything in your industry is to follow the best in your industry. For that reason, we have compiled some of the accounts that we follow. 

Here are our top 10 construction accounts to follow on Twitter.

1. @conappguru

Followers: 5300

Rob McKinney is the king of construction apps, technological advancements, reviews, and an expert analysis of new products on the market.

2. @EquipmentToday

Followers: 24.3K

Equipment Today is a highly active aggregate construction source that relays industry tweets from other news outlets. They generally tweet construction-related news, resources and information for construction businesses.

3. @Fieldlens

Followers: 2500

FieldLens is a mobile platform for construction communication that tracks every task, every conversation, every note. It's one of the new construction apps available, but it's also a construction Twitter that stands out from the noise, retweeting and reposting unique and interesting construction articles from around the web.

4. @ktom17

Followers: 4000

Katy Tomasulo offers a mix of both building, construction, and marketing tweets, giving her a unique perspective on a market that is traditionally channeled through industry people. 

5. @DodgeData

Followers: 30.4K

Dodge Data is a construction industry data & analytics provder that gives comprehensive and timely info on construction projects, companies, people, and the general industry. 

6. @dietz_econ

Followers: 1700

For general economy news, Robert Dietz is a great source, as he is the Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders. He also has a blog, titled "Eye on Housing," which goes over the latest in residential industry and the economy at large, relating to the housing industry (which, as we all know from 2008, is closely related to the general economy). 

7. iContractornet

Followers: 1000

Although this is a company selling resources to contractors, it keeps a pulse on industry news, retweeting and reposting big infrastructure projects, everything construction, economics, and more. Bonus: they're not afraid to use a little comedy to get their point across.

8. ConstructionMag

Followers: 32.5K

Construction executive covers a complete A to Z on the construction industry in North America, from commercial, industrial to speciality projects. A must follow!

9. AGCofA

Followers: 28.7K

the AGC of America focuses not on construction news, but the construction professionals who work in the industry, promoting their skill, integrity and responsbility of those who "build America." Beyond that, they also post general construction updates and news!

And last, but not least, if you're not following Taurus Projects, you need to get on that! You can find us HERE

Stay tuned for next week, when we go over part two: the best 10 online resources to stay on top of the construction industry. 

 

 

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At Taurus, we believe the way towards teamwork, integrity, and high performance standards is by our leaders and managing team embodying those qualities. This is why our senior executives are involved in all levels of our projects, starting from day one, and stay involved until the project is complete.  

How else does our management team form the backbone of our company?

They are beacons of strength, performance and passion, exemplifying the values that stand for Taurus Projects.

Each one has a specific and strong commitment which has contributed significantly to the continued growth, success, and leadership of the company. 

No matter what it is that our team is working on, be it restoration, site preparation, a new facility, or facility renovation, earthworks, industrial works, and much more, we have the experience and personnel who are committed to providing the highest quality construction on schedule and within budget. 

Because of our central location, right in the heart of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, we have the added advantage of a strong local presence, but a broad geographic reach, right across Western Canada.

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The type of business relationship you’ll get with Taurus:

On every work site, you’ll be met with a company that prides itself on professional and timely delivery of quality services, with an up-to-date fleet of top-of-the-line equipment.

A team that will always do their best to meet and succeed the client’s expectations.

A team that has a strong belief in safety and a history of accountability.

Our main goals on every project include safety, quality, time, and overall cost, with secondary goals including careful growth and continued improvement. 

We have a keen determination to finish every project on time and within budget. 

Is this the type of team you want to work for? Contact us here and let's start working together today!

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Many pundits claimed that the recent Alberta wildfires would send the province’s economy tumbling back to the Stone Age, but a peek behind the numbers reveal that those fears may have been exaggerated.

The flames that destroyed vast swaths of the Fort McMurray area, including many of the oil sand facilities, made crude oil production plunge by about one million barrels a day. Even worse, this reduction came at a time when unemployment and idle factories brought on by the oil price collapse had begun to affect other sectors, like existing homes sales. As a result, economists predicted that the fires would further damage Alberta’s economy.

“The fires will create major distortions in the economic data over the second quarter, if not longer,” opined Frances Donald, an economist at Manulife Asset Management.

Regional Economy Remains Firm

There’s no doubt that both the fires, and the drop in oil prices, have hurt the economy. But, the fact is that oil production accounts for only 7 percent of Alberta’s economy. The construction sector, which employs almost twice as many workers, has remained profitable through several economic downturns. This strength is one of the main reasons that unemployment in Wild Rose Country is still below the national average. Long term projects that involve heavy construction are often planned and funded months or years in advance, making this sector more immune to sudden economic dips. On top of that, recent funding has helped keep construction projects afloat and has increased the rate of new projects.

There is more good news as well:

  • A low dollar has increased tourism (the Calgary Zoo is in the midst of a record year),

  • Alberta’s economy is on the verge of diversifying, and

  • The technology sector is on the rise.

Long Term Outlook

In addition to energy, many other economic weak spots, such as exports and residential investment, are in nonessential areas. Instead, most economists predict slight growth for the remainder of 2016, fueled in part by solid growth in the construction sector. Moreover, despite the wildfires, crude oil production should increase significantly, to roughly 2.56 million barrels per day. Looking slightly further ahead to 2017, even more growth is forecast as energy prices stabilize and other sectors reap the benefits of this improvement.

Here’s a quick snapshot an RBC economist report:
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In 2006, Taurus was the coming together of over 80 years of construction experience and like-minded leaders in their field, creating the best Heavy Civil construction company we could imagine. Since then, we've had a ton of successful projects and have grown immensely.

Here's why we think we've been successful, thus far: 

  1. Taurus is managed by a group of extremely talented engineering professionals and technologists who are dedicated to the highest in quality and performance. 
  2. We make use of advanced technologies, systems and processes that deliver, not only the desired results, but also rationalized productivity.
  3. Through a high level of communication and the integration of a large variety of services, we offer advanced engineering support at all levels, from construction management, commissioning, start-up, operation, to maintenance. 
  4. Every project is managed and scheduled with an unparalleled level of attention to detail and care.
  5. While we always deliver the end product on schedule, we also recognize that quality and environmental safety are intricately linked with one another. Both are considerations in everything we do.
  6. During our work, we are continually re-evaluating the on-going safety risks that are inherent in a project.
  7. We have built a reputation of understanding the needs of our clients. 
  8. We always ensure that our clients receive the highest level of expertise and dedication throughout the entirety of any given project. 

Taking all these points into account, we believe we have a bright future ahead in the Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan and general Alberta construction scene. 

Do you have any questions about Taurus, our equipment, or our services? If so, visit our Contact page. We pride ourselves on answering any questions that we receive and we promise to respond to you as soon as we can.

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We recently completed our Quarterly Safety Symposium and it was attended by over 180 staff, craft and client representatives. We had two speakers attend the symposium. 

 

Shawn Farquhar

 

Shawn Farquhar has been entertaining audiences around the globe for over two decades. His magic has been seen on television, in motion pictures and on the most luxurious of cruise vessels.

 

His recent appearances on television, including ELLEN and Penn & Teller's Fool Us, have garnered him a worldwide following.

 

He has been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Pacific Coast Association of Magicians and the Vancouver Magic Circle, twice named Magician of the Year by the Canadian Association of Magicians, Grand Prix D’Honneur by the Pacific Coast Association of Magicians.

 

He has been awarded both Stage Magician of the Year and Sleight of Hand Magician of the Year by the International Brotherhood of Magicians – the only person to win both of the top categories in the history of the organization, and has won the highest award in magic the Grand Prix World Champion of Magic at the Olympics of Magic in Beijing, China.

 

He is one of the world’s top lecturers in Magic, has his own company that designs, manufactures, and sells illusion equipment, is a frequent performer for the Disney Cruise Ships, including the Disney Magic, and has performed for Queen Elizabeth and the Hell’s Angels – although not at the same gig.

 

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Our second speaker was Robert Day

 

Robert Day is a recently retired Senior Regulatory Advisor, licensed investigator and paralegal with over 21 years experience in multiple aspects of risk management in jurisdictions including, but not limited to, Canada and the United States, the United Kingdom and China. Robert started his career working as a Canadian Armed Forces Fire Fighter and Emergency Medical Technician. He holds numerous designations in the fields of health and safety, emergency response, human resources and security.

 

He was retained by McLennan Ross LLP (leading OHS law firm in Western Canada), until he retired, as a resource relating to the provision of legal advice and opinion on the interpretation of existing and proposed occupational health and safety legislation.

 

Rob directed the Office of Regulatory Change Management, whose activities include monitoring the regulatory change processes prior to proclamation. His work includes introducing proposed legislative wording and determining the operational impact of proposed legislative change.  He also works with both regulatory bodies and industry/standard setting organizations that endeavour to have legislative input.

 

The theme of the symposium was "The Magic of Competency." Magic, like any other profession, requires the development of a specific set of competencies - to hold the title of World Champion of Magic, a level of mastery is demanded. This keynote presentation looks at commonalities in assessing and developing functional competency in the areas of health and safety risk management and magic. 

You can view more here: www.themagicofcompetency.com

 

The feedback from the event was very positive. We look forward to the next one.

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In every industry, an effective project management system will be a crucial factor in successfully completing any and all tasks. Without it, your project can break down, creating problems among your client, your company, your team, or anywhere in between. 

No matter what position you are in your company, whether front line worker, or background project manager, follow these 5 tips for managing your projects. 

Schedule weekly meetings

When something goes wrong with a project, the culprit can often be traced back to a lack of communication between team members. One way to combat this is by having weekly meetings where you discuss the progress, problems, and solutions of current projects. It’s also a great time to set future expectations for the members of your team and allows team members to voice their opinions and feel empowered in the development phases of a project. 

During each meeting, make sure you have dedicated one person to recording the notes for the meeting, so that suggestions and ideas aren’t lost to chatter, but are recorded and considered later. 

Set out clear expectations for your team

In project management, there’s a term that is thrown around quite often: scope creep. It generally occurs when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled, and can end up costing you and your business a significant amount of money, as the scope increases, but the budget does not. To avoid project creep, setting clear expectations, outlining the required tasks, and tracking the amount of work going into a project, will be your course of action. 

Understand that things will go wrong and plan for it

No matter how much planning you do, there’s always a very good chance that something will go wrong. Always anticipate the road blocks that could go wrong, even if you believe you’ve planned enough that they won’t, and have a plan b in the event that they do. It’s simply not realistic to think that every project will go seamlessly. 

Create milestones

Progress begets more progress. Having milestones and accomplishing them will revitalize your team to keep going, improving moral and worker satisfaction. What are milestones? They’re specific progress points in your timeline of a project that represent the success of your project. When your team members are aware of how far they’ve come, they’ll have a clearer understanding of the work that has gone into the project, and how far is left to go. 

Remain Positive

As a project manager, you should be a source of positivity for your team members. There will be difficult points in the project, ones that are filled with frustration and negativity. Your job will be to turn that negativity into optimistic positivity. As a leader, or someone in a position of authority (even if you aren’t, this is a good time to create an air of authority through positivity), it’s important to lead by example. 

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In any industrial field, project managers should place a high priority on the safety and security of workers. Unfortunately, safety boots and equipment best practices aren’t all that workers need to stay safe.

Encourage Sleep

Sleepiness on the job, especially in a demanding job like earthworks or heavy civil construction in Alberta, can be extremely detrimental and very dangerous. Oftentimes, sleepy employees will lose focus during detail-oriented work, become more easily distracted (on events around them or with wandering thoughts), or have concentration lapses. It has been shown that losing even an hour of sleep can cause a significant amount of accidents.

To avoid a sleepy crew, a project manager should avoid working “lean” (not to be confused with the philosophical construction method of LEAN). This means that working with the absolute bare minimum amount of employees should be avoided. Also, allowing for shorter days so that employees are well rested is beneficial. Finally, developing seminars and trainings on the benefits of “sleep hygiene” will allow employees to gain more restful sleep.

Encourage Fitness

A healthy crew is a happier crew. An employee shouldn’t just be healthy enough to get the job done. Ideally, an employee should be healthy enough to do their assigned tasks and enjoy life after the workday is done.

Encouraging a physical fitness program at work - through classes, seminars, or competitions – can help crew members be healthier and happier. Many of these programs can take place on-site and will be a benefit to the business and the staff.

By encouraging health and fitness in every aspect of your employees’ lives, a project manager is helping decrease heart disease and blood pressure, increasing lung capacity, helping the employees’ bones and muscles, alleviating depression, and improving stamina and strength. This will in turn improve productivity, self-reported happiness, quality of work, efficiency, and most importantly, their safety!

Encourage Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention is an oft-overlooked facet of many workplaces, but it is especially important in the construction industry. Many businesses don’t consider this aspect of worker health because suicide is more likely to occur off work hours, but it is directly related to workers’ well being on the job.

Read our blogpost on mental health!

The construction industry is in the top ten most at-risk industries for deaths by suicide and are 1.5x more likely to die by suicide than males in other industries.

There are several ways that a project manager can set up a suicide safety and awareness program. Promoting safety, emphasizing teamwork, encouraging employee brotherhood, cultivating a culture of wellness, and allowing workers access to insurance and mental health care can help crew members on and off of jobs.

 

What is one overlooked part of safety that you think most people miss? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIN!

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During the first week of May, the North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (also known as NAOSH Week) strives to promote safety practices in and around the workplace. Now in it's nineteenth year, the event is not just limited to the construction and heavy civil industry.

According to the NAOSH, the goal of Safety Week is to "focus employers, employees, partners and the public on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home, and in the community. To do this, they've partnered with some of Canada's most notable safety-related organizations, including the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering. 

Regardless of your position, it's important that we all take the same approach when it comes to safety. That means following the tried and true practices to ensure we're not putting ourselves and those around us at risk. By holding each other accountable, we can prevent bad habits from becoming accidents waiting to happen and can set a good example for those around us.  



But what is Taurus' relationship to safety? Ask any of employees or contractors and they'll tell you that promoting safety is our highest priority. Our one-of-a-kind safety program, designed by our corporate safety manager, Floyd House, combines the concepts of health, safety, and the environment to achieve the best possible system for employee wellness. Read this blog post to get an in depth look at our safety process.

 

We start each and every day with a morning stretch lead by a supervisor. Besides getting the blood flowing, these stretches help prime the joints and muscles for what's to come on the job. To learn more about the benefits of stretching, make sure you read this post.

 

PPE is also a crucial aspect of safety, as we all need the right tools for the job. From hard hats and hand protection to the proper footwear and safety glasses, wearing personal protective equipment is a crucial aspect of staying safe at work. See the PPE guidelines we give everyone at Taurus HERE.  

 

But this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how we're continuously improving our safety systems. For more on our approach to health and safety, visit this page. What are you doing for Safety Week? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter today! We encourage you to spread the world about NAOSH Week online and amongst your co-workers!

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Many people believe that the construction industry is resilient to change, but this simply isn't the case. We've shown you three advancements that have already made a mark on the industry, but we want to make sure you're aware of these emerging new technologies that are sure to be commonplace in the world of construction. Not only will these technologies improve productivity and safety on the job site, but they will also cut costs and improve overall efficiency of every job. 

Augmented Reality 

 

Imagine being able to see the length, width, depth, and weight of a particular structure or building material without having to use any measuring devices. While it might sound like a stretch, this will soon become possible thanks to technologies like Google Glass and the Oculus Rift. These devices will also be able to work in tandem with specialized software that can serve as an alternative means of communication between members of a team via instant message and even recorded videos. But this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what's possible—as the demand increases, so does the incentive to create solutions to lingering problems.   

 


3D Printing 


Although this innovation has gained attention thanks to its possibilities for residential construction, 3D printing also has applications for the heavy civil industry. Planners and contractors can now bring their projects to life by creating models that display the finished project for their clients and team members. 3D printing also enables equipment to be fixed and replaced at a fraction of the cost of traditional means. Most recently, the Centre for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power revealed a working excavator printed using 3D technology.


"Smart" PPE 



What if technology was able to track and analyze everything from core body temperature and repetitive motions to the location of a team member on the job site? Thanks to the latest advancements in PPE, this will soon become possible for every construction company around the world. New hard hats and safety vests are revolutionizing the way workers approach their job duties. UK based Laing O'Rourke has developed a sweatband that can be retrofitting on any existing hard hat that tracks the wearer's temperature heart rate, and surrounding humidity: an essential resource during the summer months. Using data collected by these new forms of PPE, supervisors, management, and OHAS advisors can design and implement programs that can specifically address their company's problems.  

 

What did you think of these emerging technologies? Is there one that we missed? If so, let us know via Facebook and Twitter today! 

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If there's one thing that Taurus takes seriously, it's safety. As a company that is constantly seeking to improve our safety processes, it's something that each and every member of our team holds in high regard. That's why we have to shake our heads these photos. We know how much our readers love seeing safe one of our most popular series, The Best Safety Fails Around the World, so we brought it back to show you what not to do. If you haven't seen the last 3 editions, make sure you check them out Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, and Part 3 HERE to get up to speed! 

 

 

1) Have some cinderblocks lying around? Take a page from this guy and use them for a boost! 



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2) This must be some new PPE in the works!  

 

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3) We can't even begin to describe what's wrong with this one! 

 

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4) We're pretty sure the Occupational Health and Safety Association won't approve of these safety glasses!  

 

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5) Need some shade on a hot summer day? This probably isn't the safest place to cool off!

 

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6) We wouldn't want to be around when that load is in the air! 

 

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What did you think of these safety fails? If you've come across a picture of a safety fail, feel free to send it to us on Facebook or Twitter!  

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April is Safe Digging Month and part of our job at Taurus is to promote safe working practices wherever possible. Part of this commitment means being proactive and knowing the area we're working on before we start working on it. Although this is standard practice in the construction industry, this also applies off of the job site. 

 

According to the Alberta Common Ground Appliance, there are more than 1,500,000 km worth of buried lines throughout Alberta, including 400,000 km of high pressure pipelines. These lines are used to distribute everything from water, oil, and electricity and can easily be tampered by digging. What most people don't know is these lines are located underneath urban, suburban, and rural parts of the province and puncturing a line is one of the most common ways of putting your life and property at risk!


Regardless of how big your project is, it's important that you take the necessary steps to stay safe. These rules apply whether you're a contractor working on behalf of a client or you're an everyday person looking to upgrade the perimeter of your home with a DIY project.

 

Unsure of what to do before your next project? Before you start planning everything out, use the handy acronym C.A.R.E to make sure that you're not putting yourself or your community at risk:

 


Click Before You Dig is a site anyone can use! This free service offered by Alberta One-Call makes it easy for anyone to get a second opinion before you start digging. 

Allow at least 2 business days for a representative to survey the area and give you the go ahead

Respect the judgement of the operator. If they do not deem the area as safe, don't try to ignore their words. Doing so can lead to dire consequences.   

Excavate safely! If you reach this stage, your representative has deemed the area to be free of buried lines. You are free to start your project!

 

For more information on Click Before You Dig, make sure you visit this link. Not only can C.A.R.E. save you time and money, but you can also protect yourself from any potential underground hazards. What are you doing for Safe Digging Month? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!  

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