Blog

Keep up-to-date with what's happening at Taurus Projects Inc, construction news in the region and local community news and events.

 

Safety is a primary focus at Taurus. Dedicated to quality and high standards, we focus on preserving the environment for employees, clients, subcontractors and the public. We are also certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The ISO sets quality management standards for organizations based on quality management principles. We support strong customer focus and provide the motivation and implication of top management in the process approach and continual improvement.

As part of our commitment to safety and the environment, Taurus is affiliated and certified with various organizations and associations well respected within the construction industry. All of these groups adhere to standards of health and safety within the construction industry. Taurus is committed to maintaining high standards in addition to proactively protecting the wellbeing and safety of their associates.
 

Certificate of Recognition (COR)

COR is an occupational health and safety accreditation program that ensures safety and health programs meet national standards. It provides employers with a safety and health management system to reduce incidents, accidents and injuries. COR establishes a safety culture within the workplace and improves overall efficiency at the work site. It also assists in lowering WCB rates and qualifies a company for refunds.

www.workalberta.ca

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Contractor Qualification Network (CQN)

CQN specializes in the automation of contractor management systems. They provide major cost savings and simplify data transfer and streamline document management. Through CQN, the security and safe transfer of online information is ensured.

www.canadvantage.com
 

ISN

ISN provides contractors with an online contractor management database. They provide services related to health, safety, compliance, environmental standards and quality. Dedicated to providing services for hiring clients and contractors they provide services which all members to access and analyze data with reporting tools that benchmark performance. ISN supports over 500 hiring clients to manage 63,779 contractors and suppliers in more than 85 countries.

www.isnetworld.com

 

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Alberta Construction Safety Association (ACSA)

This association builds links within the construction industry with the purpose of making workplaces safer. They partner with Alberta Labour in the Partnerships in Injury Reduction (PIR) program. PIR is a voluntary program in which employers and employee representatives work collaboratively with the government to build health and safety management systems. The PIR program in turn awards Certificates of Recognition (COR) to employers that have met established programs. These certificates are issued by the Alberta government. Employers must maintain this certificate to be eligible for financial incentives through the Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB).

www.workalberta.ca

 

Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE)

The CSSE is the largest national and most established organization for health and safety practitioners. They have more that 5,000 members and 36 chapters throughout Canada, the United States and worldwide. The purpose of the organization is to enhance health and safety within the workplace. Offering courses and connecting with members defines them as a resource for research and innovation within the field of safety.

 

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Explained simply, ergonomics is about fitting a task to a person. Employees often perform jobs that expose them to injuries and illnesses due to the poor design of a workstation or tool. Assessing and identifying ergonomic risk factors can instill changes to improve the fit between job demands and the capabilities of employees. Generally, the greater the exposure to a risk factor or risk factors increases the probability of an injury or illness. Three of the greatest ergonomic risk factors are:

 

  • Force - how often you lift/push/pull

  • Repetition - how often the task is performed

  • Posture - how someone holds their body while standing or sitting

 

Other factors include vibration, contact stress, cold temperatures and sustained exertion.

 

Employers can assess the workplace to determine safety and ergonomic risks. Workstation design, modified work practices and other tools can reduce or eliminate ergonomic risk factors. Job descriptions are a tool for determining the risk factors associated with each job. Examining the type of work involved can determine which part of the task needs to change. It may necessitate the use of new tools or working methods, but the overall goal of decreasing injuries and illnesses will be achievable.  If a job is too physically demanding on a worker, the quality of the job may suffer. By incorporating ergonomics into the safety and productivity of the workplace, turnover and absenteeism can be decreased. The quality of the work completed can be improved and overall performance improves. Both employers and employees can benefit from the changes.

 

As a construction worker, there are some simple ways to reduce ergonomic stress:

  1. Be aware of the job you are completing. If you are required to lift a heavy load, get someone to assist you. Use your legs to push up and lift the load. Avoid using your upper body or back and do not twist your body during a lift. Injuries to the back generate the highest frequency of disabling injuries and if untreated, can persist as a health problem for months or years.

  2. Avoid stretching or unnecessary stress when completing overhead work. Frequent and prolonged flexion is associated with low back pain. Raising your arms continually above shoulder level is associated with shoulder disorders. Adjust scaffolds to the appropriate height or use a lifting device to hold materials in place.

  3. Use appropriate tools such as hammers that are designed to reduce shock. Using tools with handles that maintain a neutral wrist position eliminates the repetitive action of twisting the hands and wrists. When using vibrating tools such as jackhammers, ensure that they are equipped with built-in vibration dampers. Be sure to wear gloves to help absorb the vibrations.

  4. Rotate job tasks to reduce repetitiveness. Organize and pay attention to work/rest ratios to reduce fatigue and make sure to take organized breaks when scheduled.

 

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Construction is a broad term and the pay varies according to the type of project or skills you have. The downside of construction is it's cyclical and you may have to work away from home for long periods of time. The upside is that hard workers with a great skillset will always be in demand. For a committed and reliable worker, the key to being constantly employed means making good contacts and developing a good reputation. Here are a few suggestions for anyone beginning a career in the construction industry.

  1. Be on time and be willing to work hard. Being on time not only impacts your job, but the jobs of others who can’t continue their tasks until you finish yours. Consider coming in 15 minutes early to get a feel for the jobsite and the other workers. This will also make a good impression and show that you are eager and reliable. Make a point of showing up every day and plan on working a full day as indicated by the supervisor. When you excel at your job and get your tasks completed on time, management will be confident that they made the right choice in hiring you.

 

  1. Come prepared. Have appropriate work clothes such as steel-toed boots, gloves, a hat and a reflective vest if needed. Dress for the season….keep warm in winter and cool in summer. If it is hot, a long sleeve shirt and lightweight pants or jeans will keep the sun off and prevent sunburn. For Canadian winters, warm clothing is essential when working outside. A layering system is the best solution to stay warm and comfortable. Start with a wicking layer of clothing next to your skin to absorb moisture; the next layer should be a light insulating layer such as light fleece or thin wool. Follow with a heavier insulating layer such as heavier fleece or wool and finish with a windproof/waterproof jacket. Don’t forget to keep your hands, feet and head warm with toques or balaclavas, gloves, mitts and two layers of socks.

 

  1. Bring supplies such as water, a lunch or sunscreen. Don’t assume that the employer will provide anything and be prepared to have whatever you think you will need for the day.

 

  1. Pay attention and learn everything you can. What you learn on the job may differ from what you already know. Be open to learning different approaches as it may be beneficial in the long run. People won’t expect you to know everything so don’t be afraid to ask questions or wait to get instructions.

 

  1. Stay off your cell phone. Construction sites can be dangerous and it is essential to avoid distractions. If you need to check your phone, wait for breaks and lunch time.

 

  1. Stay focused. Construction work can be repetitive and you may be doing the same thing for hours or days at a time. Focusing on the same task may be challenging but it is a necessary part of getting a job done.

 

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Most of us are familiar with many of the major construction projects taking place here in Alberta, but the rest of Canada has some interesting developments that should be completed over the course of this year.

Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine, Northwest Territories

Located at Kennedy Lake, 280 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, this venture is owned by DeBeers Canada and Mountain Provincial Diamonds. The plan includes extracting and processing more than 31 tonnes of ore and 49 million carats of diamonds over a 10-year operating period. Construction began in 2013 and is expected to be completed this year. The capital cost is estimated at $600 million.

 

Ruskin Dam and Powerhouse Upgrade

This project is located in Ruskin, B.C. and has four major components. The upgrades include:

  • The right bank of the dam being reinforced with a cutoff wall to control water seepage

  • Seven concrete piers and spillway gates being removed and replaced with new ones. The one lane road on top of the dam will be replaced with a two-lane road

  • The powerhouse facility will be seismically upgraded and equipment such as powerhouse turbines, generators and auxiliary equipment will be replaced

  • The switchyard will be relocated and rebuilt on the left bank.

The project is owned by BC Hydro and is expected to cost $748 million. The contractors completing the work are Dragados Canada and Flatiron Construction Corp.

 

Sunrise Natural Gas Processing Plant

 

This project involves a new gas plant being built in the Dawson Creek region of B.C. The new plant is expected to process 400 million cubic feet of gas per day. The owner of the project is Veresan Midstream Limited Partnership and the cost of the project is expected to be $860 million. The project manager is Encana and the contractor is Ledcor.

 

Spadina Subway Extension

Located in Toronto, Ontario, this project involves adding on to the existing TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subway system between Toronto and the municipality of York. It’s the largest subway expansion project in 40 years and the 8.6 kilometer extension will include six new stations. The project was started in 2011 and was funded through a combination of money from the Building Canada Fund, the Public Transit Capital Trust, Ontario Trust as well as municipal funds. The cost is anticipated to be approximately $2.7 billion.

 

Maritime Link Project

This project is located in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and is owned by ENL Maritime Link. It involves the design, engineering, construction, operation and maintenance of a new 500-MW transmission system between Granite Canal, Newfoundland and Labrador and Woodbine, Nova Scotia. It will include two 170 kilometre subsea cables across the Cabot Strait, close to 50 kilometres of overland transmission in Nova Scotia and nearly 300 kilometres of overland transmission on the island of Newfoundland. The cost of the project is expected to be around $1.6 billion.

 

Bipole III Transmission Line

In Manitoba, more than 70% of its’ hydro runs over side by side transmission lines in the Interlake Region. The Bipole III line is designed to be an alternate path for electricity as the close proximity of the existing lines make the electricity vulnerable to outages and bad weather. Construction began in 2013 and will cover about 1,384 kilometres. Construction will include clearing and installation of foundations and the design, supply and installation of equipment. The project is owned by Manitoba Hydro and the cost is estimated at $4.9 billion.



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It has been estimated that one in four adults experience an issue with mental illness. Statistics Canada reports that 33% of workers and labourers involved in trades report poor mental health. Substance abuse and addictions are often related to mental health issues as it is not uncommon for workers to go undiagnosed and untreated. Compared to the provincial average, construction workers were almost twice as likely to report that the use of alcohol had a moderate or extremely serious impact on their work performance. Dealing with seasonal unemployment, long hours and physical exhaustion add to stress, anxiety and have an overall negative impact on mental health. According to a report completed by Alberta Health Services in 2016, phobias accounted for approximately 28% of reported health concerns for construction workers, with feelings of hopelessness followed close behind at approximately 26%. Major depressive disorders were reported at 12%, anxiety at 7% and antisocial personality disorder between 5% to 9%.

Mental illnesses cost Canadian employers billions of dollars in absenteeism, disability and lost productivity. Some may expect the construction industry to be the last place workers would talk about depression or anxiety, but recognizing that mental illness can affect anyone regardless of their profession is the first step in treating the problem. The construction industry is becoming cognizant of the problem and is bringing awareness to the need for support and understanding.

The good news is that mental illnesses can be treated. With treatment, 65% to 80% of individuals with mental illnesses see improvement. Recognizing early symptoms or problems ensures that resources and referrals can be suggested. Each mental illness has different symptoms and how individuals experience the illness varies. If you or someone you know is experiencing some of the following symptoms, they may be dealing with a mental illness:

  • Feeling anxious or worried

  • Feeling depressed or unhappy

  • Emotional outbursts

  • Sleep problems

  • Weight or appetite changes

  • Becoming quiet or withdrawn

  • Substance abuse

  • Feeling guilty or worthless

  • Change in behaviour or feelings

If you feel you need help, ensure that you have a physical completed by your doctor to rule out any physiological problems. Don’t be reluctant to seek the advice of an experienced mental health professional. It is important to receive an accurate diagnosis so that the condition can be treated effectively. Avoid the temptation to self-diagnose; a trained professional will be able to do a thorough assessment by exploring various issues that may contribute to the problem.

On the worksite, as an employer or a co-worker, you can be helpful in understanding mental illness and how to deal with it when someone you know is affected.

 

  • Ask if and how you can help

  • Continue to include the person in usual workplace activities

  • Depending on the relationship, keep in touch with a coworker who has taken time off

  • When a coworker returns to work, welcome them back and don’t avoid them

  • Advocate for healthy workplaces and help bring awareness to the topic of mental health

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Taurus prides itself on the quality of services it provides. We are capable and experienced industry leaders in all areas of construction. With up to date equipment, we provide specialized services in earthworks, excavation, trenching, piling, roadworks, bridges, manage laydowns, installation, maintenance of trailers, snow removal, building erection and waste management. With a team of nearly 500 skilled professionals, we provide services in a competent and skilled manner.

Established in 2006, Taurus has a mission “to be a leader and be recognized by our strong belief in safety, history of accountability and commitment to continuous reliability for our clients, employees and the communities in which we operate.” Committed to the values of hard work and ethical practice, we promise to deliver products on time and recognize that quality and environmental issues are intrinsically linked. Our focus on safety in the workplace and the environment establishes us as leaders in the community. Taurus’s goals centre around the continued improvement of their core goals and values: safety, quality, time and cost.

Over the last decade, Taurus has received awards within the community and on a provincial level. We were recognized as an Ambassador for the City of Fort Saskatchewan. In 2012, we received the Fort Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce Award for the Manufacturer/Industry of the Year. In 2015, Alberta Venture named us the Heavy Civil Contractor of the Year and we were shortlisted for Canada’s Safest Employee by the Canadian Occupational Safety Standards Council.

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Taurus is proud to be a part of many construction projects throughout the years. In 2007, we were involved in gas and water underground utility installation with BA Energy. We worked at Shell Scotford in Fort Saskatchewan with site indirects and materials handling. In 2009, we completed a project in Regina at the Consumers Cooperatives Refineries. In 2012 and 2013, we provided services at the Northeast Redwater Partnership in Redwater; at the Bechtel ATCO yards in Duchess, Alberta and at the SNC Levalin WATL Access between Red Deer and Langdon. 2014 involved a project with the City of Leduc for underground utilities. Partnering with companies such as Keyera, ATCO Electric, Bechtel and Shell showcased the pride and quality assurances Taurus promises with every project we are involved in.

 

In addition to our excellent reputation in the construction industry, Taurus is a respected and active member in the community. We support NAIT Athletic Scholarships and actively contribute to the Fort Saskatchewan Minor Hockey program. In addition to providing support within the community, we extend ourselves to major causes such as the Olympics Hockey Marathon For Kids, the FSMA Cancer Ride and Rally and the ALS Society of Alberta. With high standards of service, commitment to strong goals and values, Taurus continues to grow and improve in all aspects of the services they provide. Safety, commitment to the environment, accountability and a strong sense of community are all factors that contribute to the way Taurus provides excellent service within and outside of the industry.

 

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Do you have a heavy civil construction project that we could help you with? Get in touch with us here!

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The success of any construction project relies strongly on the project manager. Skills such as management, leadership, technical knowledge and customer relationships are part of the diverse roles a project manager plays. Conflict resolution is also a special skill required for the job as approximately 42% of a manager’s time is spent reaching an agreement with others when conflict occurs.

 

Assertiveness is possibly the most important skill when handling conflict. You need to be able to express your views clearly and firmly without aggression. You also need to practice active listening to fully understand the dynamics of the conflict.  Through active listening, respect for individual differences is demonstrated and an environment of understanding is fostered. It is also helpful to have an understanding of emotional responses so you are able to recognize and explain when emotions are inappropriate and when it is beneficial to express them. When a manager is able to understand the needs, interests and emotions of individuals, trust, and relationship bonds are established and the chances of satisfactorily resolving the conflict are increased.

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Conflict is not always a bad thing….conflict can be constructive and healthy for an organization. It can expose underlying issues and force people to confront problems. People can change and grow personally from conflict and cohesiveness among team members can be the result when a problem has been resolved.

 

Destructive conflict has a predictable pattern and many individuals fall into roles when conflict occurs. A persecutor is a person who uses aggressive behavior against another person, a victim refers to a person who uses nonassertive behavior and views themselves as being persecuted; a rescuer is a person who is neither aggressive nor nonassertive but assumes the responsibility for solving the victim’s problems. These roles are usually learned in childhood and many people fall into them based on past history. When conflict occurs and these roles are triggered, win-lose outcomes are inevitable and do not provide an opportunity for win-win resolution.

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Dealing with conflict in the workplace is common and finding resolution is essential. The role of a manager involves creating strategies to promote positive teamwork. The American Management Association outlines some simple steps that are a guideline for establishing effective conflict resolution:

 

  1. Identify the source of the conflict. Give both parties the chance to share their story and be impartial to each story. Ask questions to clarify how, when and why the incident occurred.

  2. Look beyond the incident. The source of the conflict may have occurred previously and the level of stress has increased over time. Looking beyond the trigger incident can reveal the true cause of the conflict.

  3. Request solutions. After you have heard both parties explain their side of the story, ask them how the situation could be changed. As a mediator, be an active listener. Your goal is to stop the fighting and steer the conflict away from blaming and towards resolution.

  4. Identify solutions that disputants can support. Point out the merits of various ideas, not only in terms of each individual’s point of view but from the point of view of the organization.

  5. Reach an agreement. Once an agreement has been reached, get the participants to acknowledge the plan; if necessary have a contract written up outlining timeframes and actions. Ask them what they plan to do if problems arise in the future.

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Despite upsets and uncertainty in Alberta’s economy, there are some massive construction projects currently underway in the province. When these projects are completed they are expected to generate more revenue for Alberta.

 

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Image via www.enhanceenergy.com

 

Alberta Carbon Trunk Line

 

The ACTL is a 240 km pipeline that will collect CO2 from industrial emitters in Alberta and transport it to reservoirs for secure storage. The capture sites are located in the Agrium Fertilizer Plant and the North West Sturgeon Refinery located in Sturgeon County. The Enhanced Oil Recovery Site (EOR) is located in Clive, Alberta. Over 14.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year will be compressed and stored which is the equivalent of removing 2.6 million cars off the road annually. The stored CO2 will then be injected into depleted oil reservoirs which will result in over 1 billion barrels of oil. It will be the largest carbon capture and storage project in the world when completed. The project is being completed by Enhance Energy Inc. and will cost close to $1 billion. The pipeline was approved in 2011 and work at Agrium is currently underway. Work on facilities at the North West Refinery will occur in conjunction with refinery construction.

 

 

Atco Energy Solutions’ Salt Cavern Storage

 

Atco Energy in partnership with Petrogas Energy Corp. is developing four salt caverns that are capable of storing 400,000 cubic meters of propane, butane, and ethylene. The facility is located in an underground salt layer located below the ATCO Heartland Energy Centre in Fort Saskatchewan. Construction on the salt caverns began in 2014 and is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2017. The cost of the project is $200 million and there is the potential for further development to upwards of 40 additional salt caverns.

 

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Enbridge Norlite Pipeline Project

 

This project involves the construction of a 24-inch diameter diluent pipeline which originates in Strathcona County at Enbridge’s Stonefell Terminal and terminates at Enbridge’s Fort McMurray South Facility near Fort McMurray. There is also a transfer line to Suncor’s East Tank Farm. The 446 km pipeline will be capable of shipping diluent (a product used to make heavy oil lighter). The project was started in the summer of 2015 and should be completed by the spring of 2017. The estimated capital cost of the project is $1.4 billion.

 

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Image via edmontonjournal.com

 

Sturgeon Refinery

 

North West Refining is a 50% owner of the North West Redwater Partnership. Canadian Natural Upgrading Limited owns the other 50%. This partnership is responsible for building the Sturgeon Refinery which is the first refinery to be built in Canada in three decades. Phase One which will process bitumen and produce diesel fuel will be completed in 2017. Approximately 80,000 barrels per day will be processed and available to world markets. There will be a total of three identical phases constructed by the end of the project. The total cost of the project is projected at $8.5 billion.

 

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Image via keyera.com

 

Keyera NGL Expansion

 

Keyera Corp. operates one of the largest independent mainstream energy companies in Canada. A project is underway to expand the existing facility’s fractionation capacity of natural gas liquids from 30,000 barrels per day to 65,000 barrels per day. Located in Fort Saskatchewan, Keyera is able to mitigate supply-demand fluctuations by having the capacity to store liquids in slow months while providing increased volumes as the demand goes up. The estimated capital cost for this project is $220 million.

 

Did we miss any of your favourite projects currently underway in Alberta's Industrial Heartland? Let us know on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter!

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With the year rapidly coming to an end, pause for reflection includes looking at some of the positive accomplishments of the construction industry in Alberta. With uncertainty in the economy, it is reassuring to remember that several outstanding projects were completed this year. Many of the projects included buildings located in Edmonton.

 

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Image via @enbridgecentre on Instagram

 

Enbridge Centre

 

In October, the Enbridge Center was the first new office tower to have opened in the financial district in downtown Edmonton in 30 years. The 28 storey tower was built on the historic site of the Kelly Ramsey Building. The original building was damaged by a fire in 2009, but the original bricks were removed, cleaned and reinstalled at the base of the tower. The projected $300 million budget cost an additional $3.8 million for the restoration work. The City of Edmonton paid half the cost of the facade reproduction. An overhead pedway connects the building to Manulife Place while an underground pedway connects to Scotia Place.

 

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Image via @rogersplace on Instagram

 

 

Rogers Place

 

The most advanced sports and entertainment venue in North America has 24,000 square feet of public event space. Ford Hall provides a pedway connection between Rogers Place and the Public Plaza, surrounding towers, hotel, LRT and the rest of downtown. Seating capacity for hockey games is 18,641 and for concerts; 20,734. The arena opened on September 8, 2016, and was awarded the top prize at the Alberta Construction Magazine’s 15th annual top project awards.

 

 

Edmonton Tower

 

Located in the Ice District in Edmonton, the office building opened in December 2016. It has 40,000 square feet of retail space and over 520,000 square feet of office space for lease. Floors 3 and Floors 5-19 will be occupied by the City of Edmonton. Over 200 city employees will work hotel style with only lockers, a tablet and a briefcase. The space is designed to save costs and empower employees to choose how and where to work. They will have access to sit/stand desks throughout the building if they need a place to work. Also located within the building will be a floor for child care services, restaurants, cafes and other conveniences.

 

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Image via @royal_alberta_museum on Instagram

 

Royal Alberta Museum

 

Designated as the largest museum in Western Canada, the new building provides double the exhibition space of the old building. At 419,000  square feet, the museum has over 82,000 square feet of exhibition space. The building was completed in August 2016 but transitioning the exhibits will take some time. The anticipated opening date is scheduled for later in the year in 2017. With the capability of providing facilities for cultural and historic exhibits, Edmonton can establish itself as an attractive destination for a variety of exhibits.

 

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Image via @fly_yyc on Instagram

 

Calgary International Airport

On October 31, 2016, Calgary International Airport opened a state of the art International Terminal. The project added 2 million square feet to the terminal building as well as a 14,000-foot runway for arriving and departing flights. The new construction provides passengers with the ability to connect from concourse to concourse without leaving the secure area. With the International Terminal opened, construction will begin on improving the Domestic Terminal building.

 

What were your favourite construction projects of 2016? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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The Christmas season is a good time to be thinking about helping others. There are many people who struggle through the Christmas season and are in need of a helping hand. If you are looking for charities to donate to in the Fort Saskatchewan area, here are a few ideas.

 

The Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank (also know as The Fort Saskatchewan Food Gatherers Society)

 

The Society operates a Food Bank within the City of Fort Saskatchewan. Hampers are filled with staple items and supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables. People who apply to the food bank are provided with food and toy hampers during the Christmas season. Manned entirely by volunteers, this is an organization that can make a difference to a family’s Christmas memories and perhaps give them the opportunity to share a meal together.

 

The Christmas Hamper Campaign Committee

 

Working in conjunction with the Fort Saskatchewan Food Gatherers Society, this organization holds charity drives to raise fund. The demand for food and hampers is greater than ever due to the downturn in the economy. The generosity of the people of Fort Saskatchewan and several businesses have made it possible for many families to have the opportunity to share Christmas dinner.

 

Families First

 

Partnering with other organizations and government initiatives, this organization provides services, programs and support efforts to any families needing a helping hand.Throughout the year Parenting Programs such as Positive Parenting or Creating Confident Kids are a few of the many programs that are available for people wishing to learn more about parenting skills. Family supports such as community kitchens and home visitations are also available. In addition, they have a variety of drop-in programs that parents can attend with their children.  As a charity, they accept donations to pass along to families. The need for donations increases at Christmas time and they welcome new or lightly used items which are suitable for children of all ages.

 

The Strathcona Christmas Bureau

 

This charity has been helping people since 1979. Each year, qualifying residents of Strathcona County are provided with hampers of food and gifts. More than 370 families a year benefit as a result of the work of this agency. As a non-profit organization, they rely on the effort of volunteers as well as donations from residents and businesses within the community. Donation locations are located throughout Sherwood Park. Look for the Christmas Bureau sign in locations such as Costco, Sherwood Park Mall, Wal-Mart, Home Sense, and Winners. Suggestions for donations include cash, gift cards, toiletries, books, games, music, and electronics. They are also willing to take donations of non-perishable foods.  Gifts for all ages are accepted, but at the present time, they are in need of presents for adults and teenagers.

 

We should all remember that Christmas is a time for giving and sharing. Extending support and care to those that need it most is your opportunity to share the spirit of Christmas in your local community. Your generosity and kindness will be greatly appreciated by those in need.

 

How are you celebrating the season of giving this year? Get in touch with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter!

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Alberta’s economy has been in a tailspin since 2014 when the price of oil crashed. The Fort McMurray fires further contributed to the economic decline. Uncertainty remains about the future of oil prices and global economic conditions; the outcomes are difficult to predict. Some financial experts believe 2017 will be the year of recovery for Alberta while others believe growth and recovery may take longer.

 

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  • Financial experts at TD Bank anticipate oil related investments to stabilize with oil prices reaching a point above $50 per barrel. Global oil market rebalancing has started however crude inventories remain high. Uncertainty about demand and the timing of market rebalancing are reflecting volatility in oil prices. Energy investment has weakened due to this volatility and any rebound will be slow compared to past experiences.

 
  • Outside of the energy sector, investments have also been affected by declining commercial and industrial spending. The past two years have shown a decline in business activity, however, it appears as though it’s starting to stabilize. Bitumen production appears to have recovered from the outages from the Fort McMurray wildfires and manufacturing outputs are expected to pick up with a 4% recovery being expected in 2017.

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  • The labor market deteriorated in the first half of 2016. Employment fell nearly 38,000 between December 2015 and July 2016 with job losses increasing in the second quarter. More recently, between July and October, employment has started to improve with 25,000 jobs being added mostly in the private sector. Employment is expected to continue improving in 2017 and should expand by 1.2%.

 
  • Alberta has the highest hourly wage rate among the provinces, however, sustained economic weakness has seen a decline in total earnings. Reductions in overtime, declining full-time employment and gains in part-time employment have affected the number of average weekly hours worked. As a result, average weekly earnings have fallen and primary household income has been affected. A small rebound is forecast for 2017 and growth will likely be around 2.4%.

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  • The housing market is expected to exhibit more signs of stability. Housing sales of existing homes have remained well below pre-recession levels and vacancy rates have gone up. It is anticipated that in 2017, there will be a higher than expected increase in housing starts and existing home sales, partly due to reconstruction activity in Fort McMurray.

 

Risks to the Alberta economy are still elevated, however, it is predicted that the GDP growth should top 2%. If global growth is weak, or if OPEC fails to reach an agreement to freeze output, the Alberta market could be affected and economic recovery would be slower than expected. On the positive side, higher than expected growth in the US or easing pipeline constraints could significantly improve Alberta’s prospects. Decisions that Donald Trump makes as President are likely to affect the Alberta economy in some fashion. At this point in time, we can only wait to see what those decisions will be.

Do you have any insights into Alberta's economy for 2017? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

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With the recent election in the United States, uncertainty is rampant as many are pondering the decisions Donald Trump will make as they have the potential to affect the world economy. In Canada, we are certain to be affected by any changes made to current or future policies.

 

Trade

 

Trump has promised to cancel or renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). If he changes the existing agreement, it will create change for Canada as we currently send three-quarters of our exports south. This could adversely disrupt existing partnerships involving businesses included in NAFTA. Although Trump may have the power to scrap NAFTA, Congress would have to re-establish tariffs as well as the Canada-US agreement that pre-dated NAFTA. Changing policies between Canada and the US would be complicated. It appears that Trump’s main issue may be with Mexico where he has threatened to impose taxes on American companies that establish cheap labour plants there. He does not appear to have any direct issues with Canada. The indirect way that Canada may be affected is if Trump confronts China over trade which would affect our economy and/or the dollar.

 

Climate Change, Oil and Gas

 

Justin Trudeau has pushed for a solution to tackle climate change by levying a price on carbon which will assist Canada in limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. An agreement that has already been established between Trudeau and Obama regarding these emissions could be struck down as Trump has stated that the climate change deal is “bad for US business”. With Trump’s goal of investment into traditional energy infrastructure, developing renewable energy technologies may be disregarded.

 
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The traditional energy perspective gives renewed opportunity for energy projects that couldn’t pass under Obama. The Keystone XL pipeline project and other similar pipeline projects could be approved which would give Canadian oil companies a better price on their output with more direct access to international markets.

 

Immigration and Skilled Labour Migration

 

Donald Trump has indicated that he intends to deport millions of illegal immigrants. In Canada, our government is accommodating to immigrants. The benefit to Canadian businesses is that Canada would have access to skilled immigrant workers who have been displaced or are no longer interested in living in the United States. The potential drawback could be that many immigrant employees may have to be trained to ensure they have the same skills as current employees.

 

Infrastructure Investment

 

If Donald Trump follows through with campaign promises, we could see significant money being spent on infrastructure. He has stated that he is planning to spend money on stimulus programs for highways, bridges, and tunnels. Canada could benefit from this if the two governments focus in a similar manner on building the infrastructure capacity and framework of the two nations. Whether or not this will be open to Canadian businesses and firms remains to be seen. It could adversely affect Canada however if NAFTA is renegotiated or in question; the policy in the US may be to Buy American and Canada might be on the outside looking in.

 
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With so many possibilities, it will be of interest to all Canadians to see what decisions Donald Trump makes as President. During his campaign, he was vocal about changes he would implement if he was elected. Only time will reveal what claims he intends to follow through with and how he proposes to create change.

Do you have anything to add to this story? Get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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Winter has arrived bringing with it the challenges of bad weather. Before winter strikes full force, make sure you and your car are ready. During the busyness of the holiday travel season, take your time to follow these tips to ensure you get to your destination and back home safely.

 

 

  • Before driving, make sure snow and ice are cleared off of your car. If snow has fallen when your car was parked, take the time to thoroughly brush it off the vehicle including the roof, windows, side view mirrors, headlights, taillights, and license plates. Driving through a small cleared spot on your windshield reduces visibility and is dangerous.

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  • Slow down when conditions aren’t ideal. Follow the posted speed limit but use common sense. If a road sign posts the speed limit of 100 km/h, that doesn’t mean you should drive at that speed if the road is icy or snow covered. Check road conditions often and choose the route you’ll take ahead of time. Stay off of roads during major storms unless travel is absolutely necessary. When driving behind a snow plow, maintain a safe distance behind. Snow plow drivers do not always have the best visibility and can create clouds of snow that reduce your visibility.

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  • Allow for longer braking distances. Start braking sooner than what is normal in dry weather. On a wet or slick surface, allow yourself at least three times the normal following distance to stop. Use gentle pressure on the brake pedal and avoid locking the wheels when braking. Locked wheels can make a vehicle slide or skid. If you have a vehicle without an antilock braking system, apply gentle pressure repeatedly to avoid locked wheels. If your vehicle starts to skid, steer in the direction you want to go. When the wheels regain their grip, brake firmly and smoothly. Avoid sudden actions such as quickly turning the steering wheel, acceleration or shifting a manual transmission.

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  • If you don’t already have them, get winter tires. They provide better traction and can shorten your braking distance by as much as 25 percent. All season tires are not the same as winter tires as they tend to lose their grip when the temperature drops below 7 C. If have four or all wheel drive, don’t develop a false sense of security. 4WD and AWD systems only provide traction when accelerating. They provide no advantage when braking or cornering. Do not use cruise control on slippery roads.

 

  • Keep your vehicle’s fuel tank more than half full. The extra volume can help reduce moisture problems in your fuel system and a topped up gas tank is an asset if you become stranded. Carry an emergency road kit in your vehicle’s trunk or cargo space. Carry supplies such as: a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, blanket, road map and compass, extra clothing and footwear, rags or paper towels, sand or road salt, a flashlight with extra batteries, emergency food such as granola bars or nuts, an ice scraper and snowbrush, a cell phone, a candle in a deep tin and waterproof matches, a shovel and booster cables.

Are there any other preventative winter driving tips that we should add to our list? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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Winter conditions in Alberta can start in October and continue through to April. Weather and environmental conditions during this time create hazards. Pre-season planning is an important aspect of handling winter conditions. Planning is the best way to ensure risks such as minimizing cold exposure and protection from blowing wind. A risk of injuries to workers may include: slippery ice or compact snow, poor driving conditions, falling snow and ice from overhead, blowing snow reducing visibility and inadequate lighting. Here are some important factors to consider when getting a site ready for winter.

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Safety

Roadways, walkways and parking areas should have adequate drainage to avoid water accumulation and be properly marked so they are easily identified during heavy snowfall. Permanent or immovable objects are to be marked with reflective barricades or stakes to allow for visibility. In work areas where snow drifts can occur, a snow fence should be installed. Installing a snow fence prior to freezing is recommended as it becomes more difficult to install once the ground is frozen. Grit or sandboxes can be placed in centralized locations for easy access. Cords and cables need to be away from walkways and raised off the ground or buried if possible. All buildings and trailers used during winter should also be assessed. Proper lighting, snow removal, handrails and other safety features are to be taken into consideration to ensure the workers safety.

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Lighting and Heating

With less sunlight in winter it’s important to have lights set up on the jobsite. In permanent work areas such as laydowns and office areas, permanent lighting may be more practical. In temporary work areas, portable lighting may be more suitable. Paying attention to the placement of lighting is critical as is placing barricades around lights. Gas powered lighting, heaters and generators should be placed so exhaust does not enter enclosed spaces and all equipment must be properly grounded. Heating and temporary power should meet with designated standards.

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Excavations

Before the winter season arrives, any unnecessary excavations should be filled. Consider snow that will be removed from the excavation and where spoil piles will be placed. If space is available, the excavation should be bermed to create a physical barrier preventing vehicles and equipment from entering the excavation. If berming is not possible, high visibility markers should be placed at a distance from the excavation.

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Equipment

Identify what equipment will be required for snow removal. Equipment such as graders, front end loaders, bobcats, snow and leaf blowers, shovels, brooms and ice scrapers or chippers may be needed. As snow removal equipment creates slippery surfaces, after the snow has been removed, grit should be placed soon after the snow removal has been completed. Snow disposal areas can be determined according to the site. Temporary snow storage areas can be created where snow can be compiled and transported to a centralized snow dump. To avoid flooding during spring melt, snow disposal areas should not be placed on high ground.

 

How are you preparing your construction site for the snow and cold weather? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

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In the latter part of our decade working in Alberta's construction industry, we've invested more time and effort into our online presence to further our company values of transparency and accountability. Now, we're celebrating a recent accomplishment of hitting over 2,000 followers on Facebook and 7,000 followers on Twitter by taking a look back at some of our greatest posts on social media!

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Did we miss any of your favourite posts? Get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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November 11th marks the anniversary of the 1918 Armistice agreement that ended the First World War. The perception of war changed for Canadians after the reality of this experience. As the victory of the war ending was celebrated, the awareness of the loss was devastating. 61,000 Canadians lost their lives and the need for commemoration was started as a way to show gratitude towards the soldiers who lost their lives fighting for their country.

 

During the Second World War, Canadians fought valiantly on battlefronts around the world. More than one million men and women enlisted in the navy, army, and the air force. When the war was over, over 42,000 Canadians had lost their lives. The hard fought end to this war did not provide the troops with a long peace. Canadian soldiers were mobilized to South Korea to fight an invasion by North Korea. When this war ended in 1953, Canadians stayed as part of the peacekeeping force. More recently, the War in Afghanistan has been another war that Canadians have served in. Over the years, more than 118,000 Canadians have died in foreign conflicts.

 

From observing all the realities and tragedies of wars, it reminds us of the true nature of conflict and the devastation and destruction that war can bring. The red poppy has become the symbol of Remembrance Day as it is associated with death and renewal; the seeds of the flower may remain dormant in the earth for years, but blossom in abundance when the soil is churned. In 1914, poppies appeared in the fields of Flanders and in Northern France and became an inspiration for the famous poem “In Flander’s Fields” by John McCrae. Wearing a poppy has become synonymous with Remembrance Day all over the world as we honor those soldiers who lost their lives in battle.

 

Monuments commemorating the lives of Canadians who died in conflicts overseas occupy a prominent place in towns and cities throughout Canada. Canada’s most prominent war monument is the National War Memorial in Ottawa, where the Remembrance Day ceremony is attended by the governor general, the prime minister, senior Legion officials and a parade of veterans. It is also attended by the Silver Cross mother; the Royal Canadian Legion chooses the mother of an Armed Forces member killed in military service to represent the mothers of all Canadian veterans killed in military service. The Unknown Soldier is located at the foot of the National War Memorial and contains the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who was killed in the First World War. The Tomb represents all Canadians killed overseas who lie in unmarked graves.

 

We often take for granted our Canadian values and institutions. We have the freedom to participate in life the way we want to under a government of our choice. The Canadians who went to war believed that our values and beliefs were being threatened. On Remembrance Day, honor the veterans who have dedicated their lives to helping us live a life free from war by making a donation to:

 

vetscanada.org - committed to helping homeless and at-risk veterans reintegrate into civilian life.

woundedwarriors.ca - honors and supports Canada’s ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, First Responders and their families.

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The benefits of community-business partnerships are numerous. From a business perspective, the relationship provides visibility for companies working within the community. A partnership can open up new business opportunities when the community directly or indirectly supports the business. Working within the community can expose a company to processes and/or skills that if implemented, can improve business operations. For Taurus, the main reason for a community-based partnership is simply to give back to the community. Contributing to the greater good and the betterment of society is a core value that Taurus is committed to.

 

Taurus believes that being involved in sports assists in creating and developing a healthy lifestyle. By promoting teamwork and healthy lifestyles, young people are provided with the foundation to succeed in life. Some of the agencies Taurus has been involved with are the Fort Saskatchewan Minor Hockey Association, Devon Minor Baseball, and Fort Saskatchewan Lacrosse. In addition, they supported the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation in 2014 by being involved with the Olympics Hockey Marathon for Kids. They are involved with the NAIT Athletic Scholarship Program which awards athletic scholarships to students. NAIT parallels Taurus’s values as it recognizes that participation in intercollegiate sport has a positive impact on the overall development of students.

 

Taurus also supports a variety of other community agencies. They have been directly involved with the Fort Saskatchewan Toy and Food Drive. For many years the Fort Saskatchewan Motorcycle Association holds a Cancer Ride and Motorcycle Weekend to raise funds for the Cross Cancer Institute. The ride encompasses a route of about 200 Kilometers through towns and hamlets around Fort Saskatchewan. Over the past years, the event has grown and has become the second largest contributor from the ranks of the nonprofit organizations raising money for the Cross Cancer Institute.

 

The ALS Society of Alberta is another association that Taurus supports. ALS, often known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a rapid, serious neurodegenerative disease which attacks the nerves in the body. Individuals affected by this disease are left completely immobilized with an inability to talk, swallow and breathe. The society is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing information and support for people suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). It is one of the largest funders of ALS research across Canada. Once again, this agency complements many of Taurus’s core values. They believe in respect, caring, service and accountability and are dedicated to the betterment of people affected by ALS.

 

Creating a successful business often includes caring for a wider community. A partnership can help employees feel that the effort they put into work every day contributes to the greater good. Having happier staff can lift morale and increase productivity. Knowing that the firm you are working for compassionately contributes to society in meaningful ways promotes connection and involvement on an individual and corporate level. Taurus sets an exemplary example for staff and all members of the community who are involved with the company.

 

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The commitment and transition towards green construction or sustainable building is increasing as society is becoming more conscious of the environment. Building green is good for the environment, the community, and the economy. By using less energy, less water and fewer materials and natural resources, green building has a less harmful impact on the environment.

 

Five focused areas are to be considered with sustainable construction: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental air quality. These categories are interconnected and are to be considered at all stages of construction. The benefits of green construction translate into a growing demand for construction companies and investors over the next several years. It is predicted that Canadian firms expect to grow their green practices from one-third (reported in 2014) to one-half by 2017. Investment in green construction can help to reduce energy use and emissions through increased efficient energy and water use, adoption of renewable energy generating technologies and improved integration of buildings and communities.

 

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The World Business Council for Sustainable Development identifies three pillars of sustainability - the environment, social reasons and economic benefit.

 

  • A green building has less a less harmful impact on the environment. Using recycled materials and minimizing waste during construction has a beneficial impact environmentally. After the building is completed, the owner benefits by saving as much as 70% on energy and water savings.

 

  • In a report completed by the Canada Green Council and McGraw Hill Construction, social reasons were identified as being an important factor in building green. 42% of people surveyed said client demand and “doing the right thing:” were the top triggers for future green building projects in Canada. 60% considered the ability of green buildings to promote greater health and well-being among occupants as the most important social reason to build green.

 

  • Investors are assured that significant dividends on their investment as 68% of owners reported decreased water consumption in their buildings.  82% of owners/developers reported decreases in energy consumption. The median reduction in  operating costs over five years for green building was reduced by 17%; the median payback for the investment in a green building is approximately eight years which was consistent with studies conducted in the U.S and globally.

     

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Taurus is a leader in the area of sustainable construction. Every precaution is taken to ensure there is no negative impact on the environment. They utilize trained and qualified personnel, implement qualified assessment services and ensure environmental standards are met when constructing and managing environmental holding areas. Site reclamation, recycling programs and proper waste handling and storage are other measures that are taken to create eco-friendly construction processes. There is currently little pressure on companies to adopt green approaches, however, many construction companies are beginning to incorporate green practices into the building cycle. Companies are realizing that the long term benefits of becoming green are positive and will become the standard down the road. With this in mind, it is likely that the green building trend will continue to expand in the coming years. Also, as the public develops a clearer understanding of what green means, energy efficient approaches will become standardized.

What do you think of the construction industry's move to more environmentally friendly processes? Let us know in the comments and get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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Taurus was established in 2006 and is comprised of a management team with extensive history in the construction industry. Our mission to be a leader in the field of construction is supported by a belief in safety, accountability, reliability and superior customer service. Our team of experts employed at Taurus are knowledgeable about best practices and are committed to providing customers with the facts they need. Change is constant in the construction industry and Taurus rises to the challenge of exploring new and creative ways to implement ideas and solutions.

 

Located in Fort Saskatchewan, Taurus provides services all over Western Canada. Our Projects Group is managed by engineers and technologists who employ specialized technologies and systems to achieve a productive outcome. With a stellar reputation in our field, Taurus is always committed to their vision which encompasses safety, quality, respect, innovation and teamwork.

 

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Taurus has a commitment to meeting deadlines and staying within budget. We have an accommodating approach to meeting client’s needs and take pride in the quality and efficiency of our work. Whether the project is restoration, site preparation, a new facility, earthworks, or industrial work, Taurus offers experienced personnel to provide the highest quality of work. With safety being our primary focus, we are dedicated to preserving the quality of the environment for future generations. Taurus has achieved success in a variety of major projects since we were established in 2006.

 

  • In 2006 Taurus provided site grading for the All Star RV Superstore located in Sherwood Park, Alberta.

  • We provided underground utility (gas and water) for BA Energy located in Fort Saskatchewan in 2007.

  • In 2008 we completed a project in Sherwood Park for Lockerbie and Hole. The project involved a 30-acre module yard expansion.

  • A project at Consumers Cooperatives Refineries in Regina, Saskatchewan was undertaken in 2009 with Taurus providing common services on site.

  • In 2012 we worked with the Northwest Redwater Partnership in Redwater Alberta providing common services and civil works.

  • 2013 involved projects of yard management at Bechtel, ATCO Yards in Ryley, Forestburg and Duchess, Alberta.

  • Also in 2013, Taurus was involved in the construction of ROW Access along the power line

and related field works. The project was for SNC - Lavalin, WATL Access Central and

South from Red Deer to Langdon in Alberta.

  • In 2014, we completed a project for the City of Leduc installing underground utilities.

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Commitment to clients and employees ensures that Taurus continues to grow as a leader in the construction industry. We are dedicated to improvement in all areas and consider Safety, Quality, Time and Cost as our main project goals. Senior executives are involved in every project from the beginning to completion which ensures that efficiency and high standards of performance are maintained. A strong commitment to clients’ needs and a capacity and commitment to improvement are inherent within the vision of the company. Our focus on leadership and commitment to quality will continue to be standards Taurus upholds in all future projects. 

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Injuries on construction sites is a concern for workers, but civilians should also be informed about potential hazards they may encounter if they are entering a construction zone. Dangers such as unstable work surfaces around holes or trenches are an example of why it is necessary to be cautious and aware of safety when encountering an area under construction. Be aware while walking around scaffolding, ladders and other building structures and be alert to possible obstacles. Pay attention to guardrails and other structures that define boundaries...it is likely that workers have established the boundaries as a safety precaution.

 

Equipment that is used on-site should only be operated by qualified personnel. Every year, workers are injured while operating powered industrial trucks and forklifts. Civilians should be aware that operating this equipment requires special training and if they hear the reverse signal alarm they should exit the area where the equipment is in use.

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Workers on construction sites follow specific safety standards such as wearing head protection or other protective clothing. There are strict guidelines that must be followed when dealing with hazardous chemicals or materials. Precautions vary depending on the construction site and while workers may be aware of potential dangers, civilians may not be as informed. Using caution while being around any construction project is crucial for employees and civilians alike.

 

Road construction has been steady in Alberta and many major projects are currently underway or have recently been finished. Unfortunately, road construction means slower drive times as well as the possibility of increased car accidents. In order to minimize the risk of traffic accidents, motorists should consider the following:

 

  • Motorists must obey the posted speed while driving through construction zones. When workers are present, fines for speeding in these areas are doubled. A worker is deemed to be present when they are on or near the road and are operating heavy equipment. Flag persons and other workers working with tools on the ground are also considered to be present and at risk.

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  • Drivers convicted of violating the Traffic Safety Act can have demerit points applied to their driver’s record if they are convicted of the fine. 1-15 km over the speed limit can amount to a fine of between $57 - $89 with two demerit points, 16-30 km over the speed limit can amount to a $103-$177 fine and three demerit points, 31-50 km can cost $187-$351 in fines with four demerit points; anything over 50 km requires a mandatory court appearance with the court setting the fine and a possible six demerit points.

 

  • Even if it seems like there is no activity in a construction zone, there may be other less obvious hazards such as loose gravel chips and uneven pavement that can be dangerous for vehicles traveling at high speeds.

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  • Cooperate with other drivers to keep moving smoothly. When traffic needs to merge due to a lane closure, ease into the driving lane early and leave gaps for other vehicles to merge. Expect that travel will take longer due to construction and plan accordingly. If you know the whereabouts of a construction zone or if it is a route you  travel regularly, consider using an alternate route.

 

Do you have any safety tips for civilians to add to this story? Get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!

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