Spring Safety for Construction Sites

Spring Safety for Construction Sites

If you’ve spent all winter waiting for more sunlight and less cold air, congratulations; we’ve made it into spring! But the promise of nicer weather doesn’t mean we’re out of the danger zone. Spring brings its own challenges for those working in the industry. From rainfall to brisk temperatures to trench problems, here are some things to consider when working excavation jobs during the spring months.

The Right Gear Matters

Say goodbye to winter coats and coveralls and say hello to worrying about heat exhaustion and dehydration. Your warm weather gear should consist of loose, lightweight clothing and if you’re regularly working outdoors, start applying sunscreen. When working outdoors, it’s best to wear gear that’ll help you conserve energy; sometimes going too hard in warmer temperatures can lead to undue stress or worse, exhaustion or heat stroke. Don’t forget protective eye gear and reflective outerwear, a great help when working in conditions where visibility is poor.  

Watch Out for Cave-Ins

When working excavation, be extra careful when working with the earth. Moisture and warm air can loosen it, leading to a higher risk of cave-ins. When excavating, use a trench box to support both sides of the hole to establish stability. You can also dig the hole in a way that allows the sides to reinforce the hole.

The Problem with Rain

For a few short months, rain will be your enemy. Plenty of rainfall can present a hazard for workers working in high-rises and areas with surfaces slick with rain. It can be a hazard for those working with live cables. It can lead to a higher chance of cave-ins and trench problems. It also poses a bigger problem when mixing with dirt or sand to turn into mud, not only posing a danger to workers but also equipment and machinery too. When working in rainy conditions, make sure you're wearing boots that have great traction on slippery surfaces.

Be Smart About Your Equipment

Rain and mud can make it far more challenging to operate machinery. It’s absolutely important to check that whatever machinery you handle is properly rated for outdoor use and expect slopes to be much harder to maneuver around. Work with tools sporting textures, non-slip handles to keep your grip in the elements. Double down on wiping mud from your boots before climbing into equipment - it’ll make the difference later on when you have to clean it all out!

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5 Ongoing Construction Tech Trends

5 Ongoing Construction Tech Trends

As we get further into 2017, it’s now time to take a look at some of last year’s predictions, trends and buzzes to see what’s currently holding up. In the field of technology, these are all sure bets but it’s often these ongoing tech trends are discussed with little word as to why they’re important. Here are five construction trends in technology happening right now you should know about.

BIM - Building Information Modeling (BIM), a process of 3D modelling and project management, has continued to grow in importance in the construction industry and a need to improve communication between stakeholders and firms will fuel its upward trajectory. With the advent of VR tech, the next step will be taking the best of virtual immersion to breathe more life into future drafts, plans and designs.

Scanning - As hardware becomes more affordable, so does traditional scanning options. Meanwhile, 3D scanning is taking off, offering a robust option for firms looking to capture complex structures in a short period of time, converting scans into fully fleshed models easily shared and accessed.

VR/AR Tech - VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) are fast making an impact and they currently stand to make a greater splash in the construction industry, now that computer display technology and graphical interfaces have improved enough that both technologies are more feasible than ever. VR and AR can provide better levels of safety to job sites, allowing teams to detect potential hazards, view site conditions and provide stakeholders and clients a better understanding of the project through its progress.

Mobile apps - It’s easy to say just about anyone working on a job site has access to a cell phone or tablet, making mobile apps easily one of the platforms with the biggest potential for reach. There's an app for just about every aspect of construction industry culture from time tracking to project management to safety review to team communication and resource tracking and more. Hopefully we can see further app consolidation where more features can get integrated into fewer apps.

Cloud computing - The cloud itself is not new, especially in construction circles, but its pervasiveness and reach has fuelled the impact of just about every other trend on this list, making many applications and innovations possible. So far that integration has consisted of file sharing and team communication but what may hopefully come this year is an improved flow of communication between the job site and a firm's main office and better integration between the cloud and the trends it powers.

What else do you think deserves a mention? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

How to Better Use Technology In Promoting Safety On The Job Site

How to Better Use Technology In Promoting Safety On The Job Site

When it comes to workplace safety, technology is one great way to easily ensure health and safety standards for employees. Frequently mentions of tech come with the assumption that it’s being used to enhance productivity. However, companies now have access to a wide berth of technology allowing them to better report incidents, monitor employees and keep them safe from injuries. However, organizations looking to follow OSHA regulations are embracing technology to help them reach those health and safety benchmarks.

Here’s a look at just how organizations can use tech to promote safety on job sites.

Tracking Performance - At its core, technology can provide enhanced communication, a boon for any company. If technology can allow better communication between workers and their superiors on a job site, safety inspections can be better carried out. Feedback can be quickly sent out and used by contractors to continually improve over a project timeline. In the case of fall prevention, inspection data can be used by safety managers to take proactive action, thus preventing a potential accident from happening. Providing increased reporting and monitoring of active safety issues on a job site can give organizations the ability to mitigate that.

An example of apps that specialize in this include SafetyCulture and Canvas, tech that offers real-
time accident inspection, fall prevention checklists and job site safety analysis.

Increasing Accountability - Accountability can lead to a safer work environment whether you're reining in unruly workers or dealing with productivity mishaps. The introduction of advanced reporting software has given employers peace of mind when tracking the health and safety status of their workers. That data can be used by project managers to push accountability and easily transmitted to colleagues and stakeholders.

Sharing Data - One benefit of using a shared system to gathering and collecting data, whether that’s reinforced servers or storing it all in the cloud, means having an easy means of access and transparency. For larger companies working on multiple projects spanned over a period of time, it’s a lot harder to collect and manage data. Ease of access and better transparency means analyzing and sharing data will go a long way towards protecting workers on a job site and identifying potential issues.

What else can you think of? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

Safety Sign Essentials

Safety Sign Essentials

Safety signs are a must for any business; how else are you going to keep employees and visitors safe from potential hazards and dangers? Safety signs don’t have to be complicated to succeed. They’re an easy way to let the public know about hazards in troublesome areas or around machines. They’re universal, are oftentimes necessary to comply with OSHA regulations and can make a great difference in setting the tone for safety at your workplace.

Ideally, it’s best to keep signs in areas that feature a risk of injury, where proper protection must be worn, where hazards aren't visible, where large vehicles like forklifts and trucks work or confined spaces.

Here are a few steps on using safety signs effectively:

  • Keep It Simple, Keep It Immediate - Limiting your message to a few words helps alert people to potential dangers or hazards. Using simple, clear language avoids any situations where your words could complicate matters.
  • Know Your Hazards - Identify all potential hazards surrounding the area. Try and keep an eye not for obvious dangers but for unexpected hazards too.
  • Position Is Key - Make sure to post signs in areas where they can be easily visible and read from a distance to help people take note of hazardous areas. It's important to remember a sign's location relative to its hazard - it’s very easy for people to read it and forget by the time they get there!
  • Use Colours - Use bright, vivid colours to help your sign stand out in a busy environment.
  • Graphics Say It All - Think about how signs usually contain enough info to be understood and convey their message to everyone. More often than not, there's a symbol that clearly explains the danger. Using pictures, symbols or diagrams can help people easily pick up on the potential hazard from a distance - especially if they don’t speak English.
  • Know Your Signs - Ensure workers know about your safety signs and the necessary precautions to take for each one. Quiz new workers on the importance of each safety sign put up near your workplace and what steps they would need to take to properly address each one.


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5 Things You Should Know About Ergonomics

5 Things You Should Know About Ergonomics

One major aspect about working safely is to do what you can manage. As a supervisor working on a construction job site, that’s what ergonomics is all about: fitting the right task to the person to help them reduce risk of injury. Too many times, employees find themselves having to perform jobs that can leave them exposed to injuries and illnesses due to factors like poor workstation designs. Employing proper ergonomics during work activities can not only help you stay safe but usually helps you find ways to do your work in better ways.

So let’s talk ergonomics. Here’s five things you need to know.

1) MSDs a.k.a musculoskeletal disorders are something you should be worried about. They slowly develop over time and the soft tissues in your body - the nerves, tendons, muscles, ligaments and joints - are the most susceptible to them. Injuries like carpal tunnel and tendonitis are prime examples of MSDs and these injuries start in phases.

2) Pay attention to the phases and risks MSDs carry. It’s fair to say you won’t take it seriously at first. The phases of MSD start with mild discomfort and only begin to increase in severity if you keep returning to the same, strenuous activities with no breaks. At some point, your body will no longer be able to recover. One way to do this is to avoid ergonomic risk factors, characteristics that can be a major factor of stress upon your body. The three major factors involve force (how much you lift, push and pull), repetition and your body posture. Contact stress and vibration are also common hazards that can wreck havoc upon the body if left unchecked.

3) Be aware of what your job entails. Recognizing the potential risks that occur in job activities can help you gauge if a task is difficult to pull off. If that's the case, think about different solutions that can make the job easier to do. If you're required to lift a heavy load, enlist someone's help in assisting you and don't forget to use your legs, not your back. Use tools that can reduce shock or come with vibration dampers.

4) Rotate job tasks when you can. It helps to reduce repetitiveness and fatigue so it goes without saying that you should be taking scheduled breaks and paying attention to your level of fatigue because that plays a big part in how much energy you’ll exert in performing tasks.

5) If you’re a manager or employer, some things you can do at the workplace include providing ergonomic training for your staff on recognizing the primary risks and conducting assessments to identify major trouble spots. Creating job descriptions can help determine the risk factors associated and you can use that to make a decision on what to improve upon, whether that's buying new tools or changing the routine involved with the task. Most importantly, pay attention to which jobs are too demanding for your workers. If you can make effective changes with ergonomics in mind, the quality of work will increase and so will the health of your workers, an effective win-win for all involved.

Anything else we missed? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

5 Major Projects in Alberta Happening Right Now

5 Major Projects in Alberta Happening Right Now

If 2016 served as a fiery crash for Alberta, both as a metaphor for the state of its economy and in the case of Fort McMurray quite literally, 2017 represents its rebirth rising through the ashes. Thanks to the recent rebound of oil, the increase in spending by Alberta businesses, a surge in population increase, several ongoing massive projects and the rebuild of Fort McMurray, the province’s on the path to recovery. Alberta's expected to lead the country in GDP growth by 2.8 per cent, a crucial step towards growth. Despite the uncertainty, it’s business as usual in Alberta and the hopes are these aforementioned projects currently under construction should generate more revenue and optimism for Alberta when completed.

Alberta Carbon Trunk Line

Expected to be the world's largest carbon capture and storage project with a $1 billion price tag, the ACTL is a pipeline stretching 240 kilometres, collecting CO2 from industrial emitters and transporting it to older reservoirs. 14.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year will be compressed and stored, only to be injected into depleted reservoirs. The process is expected to yield over a billion barrels of oil, bringing in more than $15 billion to the province in the form of royalties. The project is expected to finish construction this year, with capture sites located at the North West Refinery and the Agrium Fertilizer Plant.

ATCO Energy Solutions’ Salt Cavern Storage

The Salt Cavern Storage is a series of salt caverns capable of storing more than 400,000 cubic metres of propane, butane and ethylene. In time, these caverns can help provide an alternative for hydrocarbon storage work. Three years in the making and expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2017, the $200 million project located in Fort Saskatchewan has the potential for further development to an upwards of 40 additional storage facilities.

Enbridge Norlite Pipeline Project

The Norlite Pipeline Project involves a 24-inch pipeline starting at Enbridge’s Stonefell Terminal in Strathcona and stretching to their south facilities in Fort McMurray, shipping hydrocarbons like diluent used to make heavy oil easier to transport. Expected to cost a $1.4 billion, the project is expected to wrap up in the spring.

Keyera NGL Expansion

The Keyera NGL Expansion intends to increase Keyera Corp’s capacity output of natural gas liquids from 30,000 barrels per day to 65,000 barrels per day. Boasting one of the largest independent energy companies in the country, Keyera’s facilities can mitigate supply-demand fluctuations by store liquids during times of slow activity, providing more when demand accurately rises. The cost for the expansion is an estimated $220 million.

Sturgeon Refinery

The first refinery built in Canada in three decades and coming in at a cost of $8.5 billion, the Sturgeon Refinery is being built in three phases, the first intended to process bitumen, produce diesel and is expected to be completed later this year. The refinery will be capable of processing 79,000 barrels a day, with the later two phases carrying the same capacity.

Any others you think deserve a mention? Let us know on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn!

Examples Where You Should Use Hydro Vac Services

Examples Where You Should Use Hydro Vac Services

Despite the concept and technology existing as far back as the 1960s, hydrovacing is still a relatively young form of digging. The process of using high pressure water to better break down material has made excavation an ease in areas where the climate makes traditional excavation far more difficult. Why use hydrovac? There’s numerous benefits to using hydrovac: they require less direct manpower and can safely remove contaminated materials or uncover buried utility lines, serve as the best non-destructive option for digging and speed up excavation projects in ways conventional digging simply can't.

Here’s a few examples where your best tool of choice should be hydrovac.

Accurately Finding Utility Lines
We touched upon this not too long ago but a problem with conventional digging jobs is that besides potentially hitting buried power lines that could wreck havoc to both your health and your utilities, it’s quite the destructive process. Whether you’re looking to map out an area for excavation or looking to repair a site, buried cable or utility lines can be damaged using traditional methods. The advantage of using hydrovac means not only will you be less destructive on the soil, saving time and money on future repair, you'll also be avoiding the use of heavy machinery that can take up precious space.

Draining Excess Water
As this situation in Saskatoon proved, hydrovac vehicles are well suited to dealing with an abundance of quickly melting ice water. Hydrovac trucks can be used to unearth just about anything, or it can be used as a vacuum. Alongside working to drain large pools of water in parking lots, the hydrovac trucks in Saskatoon worked to clear drains that remove water from roofs to prevent further collapses and leaks.

Prepping for Pile Holes
One of the services we offer is pile holes, digging holes meant for structural support foundations or installing poles. Oftentimes, these holes are designed to safely align with the city’s underground infrastructure but hydrovacs are the preferred method for these jobs. Making a quick and effective excavation in cold climates is cost effective for pile holes, whether these holes are for supporting utility poles or end-bearing piles. You’re capable of getting more done in half the amount of time.

What else can you think of? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

Current State of The Oil and Gas Economy

Current State of The Oil and Gas Economy

2016 was not the best year for a lot of the men and women in Alberta. That being said, the final quarter of the year brought with it a note of optimism, namely that the worst was truly behind us. The unemployment rate, the highest it had been in decades, had hopefully topped out. The plummeting price of oil had found a bottom. According to a variety of sources, the recovery was starting to begin.

A month into 2017, a fresh year and what do we know now? That promised rebound is certainly happening. Late last year, we briefly touched on how ATB had predicted a modest 2.1% expansion for the province's economy. Since then, the price of oil has risen to US $54 a barrel as a deal to reduce output between nations involved in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries took effect. It’s expected the price will likely hover between $52 and $55 for the rest of the year, signifying stability.

In Western Canada, there’s scores of industrial projects underway expected to help stimulate the recovery process (we’ve written about these projects here and here). Vehicle sales are making an improvement. It’s expected the rebuild of Fort McMurray will help make up for lost ground. There's a larger number of active rigs working in Western Canada than this time a year ago and the province's oil production increased by nine percent in November with 3.3 million barrels per day.

A study conducted by the Business Development Bank of Canada forecasted a return of confidence in the market. This study found smaller Alberta businesses are expected to increase spending this year by a record 17.1 percent. One thing that could certainly provide a boost would be the impact of the Keystone XL pipeline; already one small Alberta town is noting an increase in business interest days after the pipeline talks were revived.

So in short, things are starting to look up. But there's still a ways to go. It’ll be quite some time before businesses are ready to hire back employees laid off. ATB Chief Economist Todd Hirsch, a major cause for much of the cautious optimism surrounding the economy, claims the real sign will be when consumers begin buying houses and cars, displaying confidence in the market again. “We are expecting the recession will end in 2017.” Hirsch recently told Global News. Let’s hope he’s right.

What are your thoughts? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

When digging goes wrong - why you should have a professional around!

When digging goes wrong - why you should have a professional around!

Thinking about performing some DIY excavation on your property? Here’s a word of advice: if there’s one thing you should leave to the professionals, it’s heavy digging.

Let’s be honest. Your digging project probably won’t go well. Even if you make the choice to rent excavation equipment, you could be breaking important 'click before you dig' laws. You could likely cause damage to cable and power lines buried deep underground, meaning you can say goodbye to working utilities and hello to a skyrocketing repair bill. Any home digging project requires you submit utility location requests at least two working days before you're allowed to proceed, something you won't necessarily need to worry about by hiring an excavating company. And like the video above proves, you just might not know what you’re doing. The risks could turn deadly.

Why hire a professional? Besides paying for excavation equipment capable of more work than the best manual labour could, you’d be paying for safety and expertise. Companies specializing in excavation can offer a myriad of services that are not only efficient but also incredibly budget friendly, something many do not take into account when making the decision to dig sans help. There’s also the alternative of using a hydrovac, a safe method of digging that lessens the chances of hitting any pipes, gas lines or other structures in the area.

But it’s not just homeowners who have to be careful. Workers need to watch out too; digging can go wrong during professional construction projects too. According to OSHA, two workers are killed each month due to trench collapse and cave-ins are the likeliest accident to result in fatalities. Other hazards to watch out for include falls and unsecure equipment, meaning most trenches and other areas of excavation need some sort of a protective system - whether it be using boxes and supports or installing equipment to prevent cave-ins or cutting back the walls at a degree - and daily inspections.

In short, there’s plenty of circumstances and situations where digging can go awry. Safety is an absolute must to observe in these situations. Do you have an excavator and or any heavy digging equipment? If you do, make sure to get a professional to handle it. If not, then it’s best to pick up the phone and give us a shout.

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Common Myths vs the Reality of Construction

Common Myths vs the Reality of Construction

It's easy to get the wrong idea about working in construction. There's enough strange myths and jokes going around that the general public's perception can sometimes be clouded. In reality, the truth about working in construction may surprise you. Here are a few examples of myths people tend to have about the construction industry that we’re prepared to debunk.

1 - Construction Is All About Tools, Tools and Tools

Reality: The construction industry is full of designers, architects, planners, supervisors, tech designers, workers and more. Each job does not start and finish in the yard. Think of a construction crew as something like the Avengers, using their specific abilities, skills, and talents to do things many others can’t - namely construct something from beginning to end. Many times workers are forced to make split-second decisions on the jobsite or think outside the box to solve problems.

2 - Anyone Can Get a Job in the Construction Industry

Reality: Most construction workers being uneducated is a myth and an insulting one at that. Just to survive in construction requires having a grasp on basic physics, math or design. Construction isn’t a dead-end job either - oftentimes, you’re working with set hours and a solid wage to start with. It offers a variety of challenges for the ever-evolving skill set. Many people in the construction industry, in fact, acquire a degree or diploma in the trades in order to improve their skills and demand higher wages in a workforce that rewards quick hands and smart thinking.

3 - There’s No Such Thing as Advancement

Reality: Actually, you’re likely to be rewarded for good work and due diligence in construction. Education is important to many, with plenty of firms, groups and worksites offering training for those looking to improve their skills. Whether it's through self-training, on-the-job training, or acquiring the skillset to start your own business, advancement is possible.

4 - It’s A Dangerous Field of Work
Reality: Reckless behaviour can lead to an unsafe experience working in construction but that can be applied to any workforce. Thanks to the initiative of agencies like OSHA, job sites have steadily become safer over the past thirty years. Whether that means hosting orientations and training sessions, devising risk management plans or favouring equipment designed with safety first, adopting a safer work culture is “in” and companies and workers are beginning to wise up to that.

Got any more you want to add? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!


Dressing for the weather – 5 tips for staying warm while working outside

Dressing for the weather – 5 tips for staying warm while working outside

Let’s get one fact straight: Edmonton winters are unbearable. For those who make their living working in the outdoors, this reality is twofold. Forget about global warming for a minute; recently, we’ve seen temperatures as low as -40 C with no accounting of wind chill. Working in arctic conditions is risky - workers could fall victim to hypothermia or frostbite if they’re not careful. We still have a couple of months of winter left, and there’s no telling that we’ll be seeing warm weather make a return anytime soon. With that in mind, here are five tips for keeping warm while working in the cold.

1. Wear proper clothing
This may sound obvious but it’s an absolute must when working outdoors. It's important to dress in loose-fitting clothes, which can trap heat easily and allow you to move freely. You also want to make it so you can remove layers when necessary. Sweating during the winter might feel great but it’s also a sign you’re overexerting yourself.

2. Layers and layers
First things first: thermals are your friend. With layers, it helps to think of it as a system where you first start with a base to help keep moisture away from the skin. Go for fabrics that retain warmth like wool and polyester. Ditch the cotton; it works as an agent extracting heat out of the body once wet. From there, move on to light fleece or thin wool to complement your thick base. After that, you'll need a jacket to protect your body and keep you windproof and waterproof. For your hands, it's best to bring mitts with thin gloves underneath that will allow you to do complicated work without exposing your skin to the cold. And don’t forget your big winter toque!

3. Protect yourself
One of the most vulnerable areas for frostbite is the face, where a vast majority of body heat escapes through. Beyond hatgear and scarves, one way to help preserve body heat is through the use of eye protection. Besides helping play a part in influencing on-site work safety, glasses can protect the eyes from irritation by cold or dry air and keep the majority of blood flow going.

4. Fuel up
To work outdoors requires a lot of energy, thus it's important to ensure you’re eating plenty of food when you have breaks, preferably rich in carbohydrates and fat. Go for bread, meats and cheese. On a similar note, make sure to drink plenty of liquids. Try to avoid caffeine, for it can prevent the body from properly heating itself. Seeing your breath in the cold is a reminder of watching water leave your body, so you need to work twice as hard to stay hydrated.

5. Watch out for exposed skin
If you're unable to clothe every inch of your body in layers and layers of clothing, your next bet is to cover as much exposed skin in skin creams and moisturisers to help ward off hypothermia or frostbite. One way to preserve your neck and keep head heat is by getting helmet liners under a hard hat, preferably fleece liners.  

Anything we missed? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

Construction startups are capturing major industry and investor interest — Here's why!

Construction startups are capturing major industry and investor interest — Here's why!

Construction start-ups are beginning to capture massive interest from the industry and investors alike. Companies such as PlanGrid, who offer users the ability to make real-time changes to blueprints, are now capitalizing on that interest. PlanGrid succeeded in raising $58 million in investments. FieldLens, who offer field management tools in both web and mobile format, locked down $8 million in a Series A round several years ago. Meanwhile, Identified Technologies were able to expand their headquarters as a result of the renewed interest in drone technology since launching in 2013.

Why is the construction industry now so enamoured with startups? The biggest reason is technology - it’s finally at a point where it can greatly benefit the construction industry. Technology is now a huge aspect in many people’s lives off the workplace - making the case for their adoption in the workplace. With connectivity now making it so the most remote of sites are now able to get Internet service, technology now has the means to make an impact upon job sites.

"Until we had connectivity in the field for the folks that are actually getting stuff built, it would be really difficult to have that dramatic level of technology impact on the industry, but we're there now," FieldLens CEO Doug Chambers said.

In the past, your best bet with technology in the construction industry would have likely been decrepit and incredibly frustrating to use. Now, rather than get forced to learn to use cumbersome software, workers, engineers and architects would much rather bring in software and technology with functionality they're familiar with. Adopting streamlined, powerful technology into your workflow is something that's been drawing younger workers into the field - one that's been grappling with a labour shortage problem as of lately.


This excitement driving construction startups is what happens to be sparking major investor interest. In many ways, the construction industry’s late adoption to tech means there’s a wave of opportunity waiting - the value these tools and programs have to customers is visible.


"Investors are fundamentally excited about the construction industry because it's a big industry…” Chambers said. “It's pretty difficult to ignore the impact that construction has, and it's always exciting to get potentially involved with an industry that is about to undergo significant efficiencies from technology."


Got any questions or concerns? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!


5 Construction Industry Trends To Watch In 2017

5 Construction Industry Trends To Watch In 2017

We're just about a week into 2017, and according to economists, starts in 2017 should increase about 5%. 

However, despite positive economic forecast, there's a great deal of uncertainty leading into 2017, as there always is with a newly elected President. Besides that, here's five important industry trends to keep an eye on in 2017. 

1. Labour Shortage

If the economy in Alberta comes back online, all the tradesmen who were forced to find work in other areas of employment, or the ones who were forced to move back home during the recession, will no longer be there to fill in the employment gaps. 

Currently, the average age of a construction worker in Canada is 41 years old, and with the lack of emphasis on trade schools and a diminishing surplus of youth going into construction, labour shortages aren't likely to go away anytime soon. 

2. Future Infrastructure / Spending Boost
There was recently an article making the social circles that stated the "Post-fire construction boom in Fort McMurray expected to surpass height of oilsands frenzy."

Besides that, there's 8.5B earmarked for infrastructure spending in 2017, which should spur quite a bit of construction growth in the province, and aid in restarting economic activity in a province that sorely needs it. 

3. Modular / OffSite construction
With lagging economies, construction firms, contractors, and subcontractors, are looking for ways to cut costs and cut construction time, and modular construction and offsite construction is one such way to do just that. 

"It’s one of those things that people figured out would be a good thing to do. I’ve seen the problem being that no one wants to be the first to do it. If I’m the first and it fails, I’m an idiot," he said. "Things change slowly in construction. Once something is embedded, then it takes off pretty quickly." — Julian Anderson, President of Rider Levett Bucknall

4. Construction costs may rise due to labour shortage and materials
Many industry experts have cited rising costs in 2017 as their major concern for the year. Between October and November, construction materials fell .5% according to the Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of Labour Statistics. 

ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu cautioned that this drop was just the "calm before the storm" and he expects that prices will continue to rise in the near future, which will cut into contractors margins. 

5. VR / AR tech
Despite the buzz that surrounds virtual reality and augmented reality technology, its use is still lagging behind the vision that people have for it. But there's no surprise why there's such a buzz around VR / AR in construction. The ability to do walkthroughs of properties while they're still in the design phase is an unparalleled advantage to firms that can take advantage of it. 

Will 2017 be the year it finally takes off? Hard to say, but Tony Colonna, Senior Vice President for Innovative Construction Solutions, said about the new technology, "You can see a lot of very sophisticated presentations, but the challenge is with the software platforms today," he said. "It’s kind of cost prohibitive to use that on a regular basis. It’s in more of early deployment."

What are you looking out for as we venture further into 2017? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!


Top 5 Projects In Alberta On The Horizon for 2017

Top 5 Projects In Alberta On The Horizon for 2017

The Royal Bank of Canada’s quarterly report for the end of 2016 highlights a number of changes and policy shifts in the UK and US that create a positive outlook for the Alberta economy in the new year: “In 2017, a bounce-back in energy investment and anticipated fiscal stimulus are expected to provide a further boost.” As such, RBC is estimating modest to moderate growth for Alberta, among other provinces. According to the Conference Board of Canada, “Alberta can expect to see real GDP growth of 2.2 per cent in 2017.” With Trump’s presidential win, the Keystone XL pipeline may get the go-ahead and the federal government has already approved the Trans Mountain pipeline, which is good for Alberta construction sector. Similarly, ATB Financial is projecting a 2.1% expansion for Alberta’s economy in 2017, meaning that we are on our way to recovery.  These top industrial projects announced or currently underway in Alberta, are evidence of the province’s movement toward recovery:

1. Fibre-Optic Internet – Edmonton, AB

Started in 2015, Telus and the City of Edmonton began construction on a $1 billion, fibre-optic internet, a telecommunications innovation that is expected to reach 90% of buildings and homes in Edmonton and to provide the fastest and most reliable internet service. “Telus says its $1-billion fibre-optic Internet build out in Edmonton will give the city a technological and economic upper hand that will boost innovation, education and streamline health care.” Their PureFibre™ network is already available in some neighbourhoods, with the project slated for completion in 2017.

2. Polyethylene Facility Expansion – Joffre, AB

Finally nearing completion, this $1 billion expansion project at the Joffre  is an addition of a world-scale, poluethylene reactor designed to produce 950 to 1,100 pounds of Linear Low Density Polyethylene. This project will expand the polyethylene facilities at Nova Chemicals’ Joffre Site in Lacombe also includes a rail yard with room for 450 cars. This project is currently winding down in the commissioning phase.

3. North West Redwater Partnership (NWR) Sturgeon Refinery Project

The world’s only refinery with both gasification and a carbon capture and storage solutions, the $8.5 billion NWR Sturgeon Refinery Project will produce cleaner, high value products that meet low carbon standards, and that will capture 1.2 million tons of carbon per year with each new phases’ completion. The first phase of the NWR Sturgeon bitumen refinery is due for completion in September 2017 and will convert 79,000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen into ultra-low-sulphur diesel. An ongoing, three phase project, the NWR refinery will continually employ tradespeople in the industrial sector.

4. Alberta Carbon Trunk Line – Sturgeon and Clive, AB

A $1 billion project to collect carbon dioxide from the Industrial Heartland and transport it to reservoirs for storage in enhanced oil recovery project, building the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line is a 240 kilometre pipeline. The project’s ultimate purpose is to provide safe, secure reservoirs for 14.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually as oil is produced, essentially pulling over 2.6 million vehicles off Alberta roads.  The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line will lead the way in carbon capture and transport in Alberta.

5. TransCanada Grand Rapids Pipeline – Edmonton and Northern Alberta

A $3 billion dollar project, the TransCanada Grand Rapids Pipeline is about 460km long, with two parallel pipelines running alongside one another. The dual system will transport crude oil between Northern Alberta and the Heartland region. The project includes a crude oil pipeline, a diluent pipeline, and associated facilities along the line such as pump stations and tank farms. The project is expected to be fully operational in 2017.

The coming of 2017 is finally a positive outlook for Edmonton construction, with the new year comes new hope, new possibilities, and a modest economic recovery.

Looking towards 2017 — The North American Economy

Looking towards 2017 — The North American Economy

Recently, the publication, The Daily Commercial News did an excellent piece outlining where the economy currently stands. 

For your reading pleasure, here's a summary of their findings, which they summarize as "the soil is rich and the crop is abundant."

1.  The United States unemployment rate is currently at 4.6%, which is a testament to the underlying strength of the US economy. 

2. Jobless claims have been below the 300,000 benchmark for 93 weeks in a row. There hasn't been a period like this for almost four decades. 

3. The average month-to-month employment in the US is on average, +180,000, with construction sitting at 2.4% increase, outpacing the general economy, which sits at 1.6% (180,000).

4. Advances in payroll of some major industries: ‘motion picture and sound recording’, +7.7%; ‘warehousing and storage’, +5.7%; ‘electronic shopping and auctions’, +5.4%; ‘home health care services’, +4.1%; ‘building material retailers’, +3.7%; ‘elementary and secondary schools’, +3.7%; ‘real estate’, +3.2%; ‘investigation and security services’, +3.1%; ‘telephone call centers’, +3.0%; ‘telemarketing bureaus’, +2.8%; ‘hospitals’, +2.7%; and ‘food services/drinking places’, +2.2%.

5. Canada's economy and labour market isn't quite as upbeat as the US economy. Job growth in November of 2016 was only +1.0%, but with some subsets of industry improvements: ‘warehouses and storage’, +9.9%; ‘computer systems design services’, +8.7%; ‘call centers and telemarketing’, +7.1%; ‘home health care’, +6.6%; ‘employment services’, +6.0%; ‘community care facilities for the elderly’, +5.1%; ‘universities’, +4.9%; and motor vehicle and parts manufacturing’, +4.0%.

6. Home starts were strong for the year, but ended the year on a tumultuous note, going from an average of 1.340 million units sold monthly to 1.090 million units, which was a country-wide drop of -18.7%.

7. The year to year difference, comparing 2015 to 2016, was +5.4% for 2016, a respectable improvement. In Canada, the home starts have stayed on par with 2015 (a + of .06%). Alberta, on the other hand, saw a decline in 37%. 

8. The PMI rose from 51.9% in October to 53.2 in November and has been over 50% for the last 8/11 months. Anything above 50% indicates that the manufacturing industry is expanding.

9. Adjusted for seasonality and inflation, US retail sales were up 3.8%, when comparing 2015 to 2016. 

10. Trade between the US and Canada has been in balance (2% in favour of Canada). Canada's merchandise trade with the world at large has suffered with our slump of raw materials.

You can read the full report here. 

Eight Habits To Teach Your Team That’ll Instantly Increase Their Productivity

Eight Habits To Teach Your Team That’ll Instantly Increase Their Productivity

We frequently wish for more time in the day to get through our immense daily workload of tasks. For team leaders, learning to better prioritize where your time goes can help ease the anxiety and burnout that can come with juggling different hats. Here’s eight ways to help your team learn to manage their time more effectively.

Take Breaks
It's been proven scheduled breaks are a godsend for your concentration abilities while completing arduous tasks. The key is to make it predictable and consistent - breaks can help improve productivity but most importantly help restore morale for teams looking to maintain a consistent level of performance.

Keep Track of Your Tasks
Setting up systems of accountability (a smaller example includes setting self-imposed deadlines) can provide useful in granting focus and productivity. It’s the equivalent of having someone looking over your shoulder while working: allocating time for tasks and keeping track of that can keep slacking off at bay.

Set Realistic Goals
Sometimes having too much on your plate can actually impede your ability to finish tasks on a quick timeline. Set goals with keeping an eye on your team’s ability to juggle ongoing tasks in mind.

Clarify Lines of Communication
Meet with your team members and try to help them understand not just what they should be working on but the quality of the work you're hoping to draw and the expectations they need to meet. Avoid micromanaging by establishing clear targets that help to bring everyone on board. Encouraging an honest dialogue about progress ensures prioritization of important areas of work.

Set an Example
Whether you're the team leader or not, being smart about your behaviour and showing great examples of time management can help set the tone for the rest of the crew. We frequently look up to coworkers and bosses as role models for gauging behaviour - so why not model that behaviour yourself?

Set A Time For Tasks
Limiting the amount of time you have for each task can help you determine where to better spend your energies and time. One example of this is the "two minute rule" suggested by entrepreneur Steve Olenski. Make the most of smaller windows of time by immediately finishing tasks you know can be done in less than two minutes. This helps leave time for larger tasks.

Devote Time To Training
Avoid the problem of micromanagement by ensuring crew members are operating at the highest level they can. With training comes further autonomy; suddenly giving your team more permission to make decisions grants more responsibility - not to mention it leaves more time for you to keep at your work.

Improve Meetings
Meetings: an unavoidable block of time nobody ever wants to deal with. One way to improve meetings is ensure they have a clearly defined purpose. If you can’t prove the meeting is useful, is it worth keeping the meeting in your calendar? Make your agenda clear so team members can leave with actual takeaways in a specific plan. Another option is to see if you can find a way to do the meeting standing up - a method that helps to keep meetings short and to the point. Discuss what tasks were completed and what you have on your current to-do list. These can help keep everyone up to date on coworkers' progress.

Help over the holidays - Here's 5 ways you can give back to the Calgary Community

Help over the holidays - Here's 5 ways you can give back to the Calgary Community

At First Call Energy, we believe that those that work, live, and play in a city should do their part to make that city—whether you live in Calgary, Vancouver or Edmonton—the best place possible to live, for all those who inhabit it. And now, more than ever, while oil prices are still low, unemployment is the highest its been in over a decade, and people are having trouble finding work in this down economy, it’s important that we all pitch in and do our part.

In today’s blog, we thought it would be important to outline a few of the things you can do to help those in Calgary who aren’t quite as fortunate this year.

Brown Bagging For Calgary’s Kids

In Canada, between 1 and 6 Canadian children go hungry every day. Hunger has a huge impact on a growing child’s ability to learn and grow. With Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, you supply a children with a lunch for a very reasonable price. With just $20, you’ll feed one child with a lunch for a month. Your donation will enable a hungry child to be hungry for learning, not food!

The Magic Of Christmas Assistance Program

The Magic of Christmas program uses a fleet of volunteer santas and elves, who visit over 500 families, 4500 hospitals and a variety of other institutions and locations. The santas and elves raise funds through Christmas shows and donations from both corporations and private citizens. The reindeer buses are generously donated by Calgary.

You can either help with a donation or by volunteering your time.

Become a Snow Angel

Calgary has already received a fair bit of snow on its roads and sidewalks, and there are families and households who currently have no one who can clear that snow for them. With the Snow Angels program, you adopt a sidewalk and keep it clear for those who are otherwise incapable of removing the snow.

Twenty years ago, Al “Richie” Richardson was battling cancer. His condition left him unable to keep his home’s drive and walkway clear of snow, that is, until a snow angel took on the task for him. The following winter, with the cancer beaten and his strength returned, Richie decided to pay back the generous deed by paying it forward. He started shovelling snow for one neighbour and quickly took on 23 more.

Calgary Food Bank

Established in 1982, the Calgary Food Bank is a charitable, non-profit organization that is dedicated to gathering and distributing food to those in need. With the current economy, it’s under-supplied, under-staffed, and overworked! 

The majority of the people they assist are the working-poor Calgarians who struggle from paycheque to paycheque to scrape by. They rely solely on the generosity of their fellow Calgarians, who recognize the good the service does for Calgary’s low-income families. In 2016, they’ve distributed an average of 262 food hampers per day.

Donate here.

Seniors Secret Service

Seniors are often the most vulnerable demographic, and the most prone to depression during the holiday season. As demographic trends suggest, there’s a large portion of men and women over 60 who do not have family or a support network to see them through the holiday season.

The Seniors Secret Service works to make sure Calgary seniors feel special and cared for during the holidays and on their birthdays.

They currently work with: Meals on Wheels, Trinity Place Foundation, the Kerby Centre, the Way In – Calgary Older Adults Services, 1000 Voices – FOCUS on Seniors, Gracewood Housing, A.H.S. Community Geriatric Mental Health, Jewish Family Services Calgary, Beverly Centre Glenmore, Oddfellow Rebekah Tower, the Calgary Drop In Centre- Senior Complex, Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens’ Association, Women In Need Society, Immigrant Services, Southern Alberta Renal Program, Kerby Rotary House Shelter, nine area Carewest long term care facilities and numerous

Leading the way - 5 Major Projects in British Columbia

There's a spur of activity happening in British Columbia right now. Major construction projects in the energy and tourism sectors and condominium development are dominating the conversation, with more than 20 top projects bearing a $5.6 billion price tag. From infrastructure upgrades to real estate development, these projects are expected to create major boons for the province’s economy. Here’s a round-up of five projects currently underway in British Columbia.

South Surrey Area Reinforcement Project
One of the biggest infrastructure shakeups, BC Hydro intends to upgrade the transmission power line bringing electricity to a growing South Surrey population alongside upgrading multiple substations to continue powering homes and businesses. The upgrades are expected to bring South Surrey communities reliable electricity for five to ten years, help increase area capacity and most importantly, help bring about further economic development in the area. The project is expected to start in early 2017 to be completed by Spring 2018.

Abbotsford Airport Expansion
Upgrades to the Abbotsford Airport have been underway since 2010, with a $30 million infrastructure overhaul last completed five years ago. Currently, the expansion include the addition of a 14,000 square feet passenger terminal, runaway upgrades, further expansion of cargo and freight services as well as the inclusion of hotel and tourist-related services in order to attract major aerospace companies to the region and contribute economic growth for the city of Abbotsford. The airport hopes to be able to accommodate two million passengers per year by 2025 - a target number four times their current numbers.

Penticton Hospital Redevelopment
New additions to the Penticton Hospital include a new six-storey patient care tower expansion bringing expanded outpatient care alongside several operating rooms and minor procedure rooms, a rooftop helipad, retail space, a sterilization unit, three floors of single-occupancy inpatient rooms equipped with washrooms and more space for the UBC Faculty of Medicine program. Funding for the redevelopment is a joint venture between the provincial government, the Okanagan Simikameen Regional Hospital District and the South Okanagan Simikameen Medical Foundation. The tower is expected to open in 2019, with another phase of renovations to expand the emergency department to start soon after.

Narrows Inlet Hydro Project
Located on Chickwat Creek and Upper and Lower Ramona Creeks, 75 kilometers northwest of Vancouver and 50 kilometers north of Sechelt, the Narrows Inlet Project is an energy initiative consisting of three small-hydro generating stations intending to create up to 33 megawatts of clean renewable energy The project will also consist of interconnecting transmission lines to connect to the BC transmission power line. The construction process has already started, with an expected completion date of November 2017.

W.A.C Bennett Dam Riprap Upgrade Project
Intended to address long-term erosion protection for the BC Hydro facilities on the Peace River, the project is calling for massive renovations, including an upgrade to the dam’s core casings, resurfacing its concrete spillway, upgrades to the rip rap and continuing work on its generating station. Coming in at an estimated $170 million, these renovations are part of a ten year plan to continue investing in infrastructure renewal, and is expected to last until Fall 2019.

Quotes on leadership, entrepreneurship, and business from CJ Lefebvre, Managing Partner

At First Call Energy, we run a lean, efficient team, which requires a strong base that makes having strong leadership, a sense of entrepreneurship and firm business sense essential to the success of our company. 

These qualities start with managing partner, CJ Lefebvre. In this week's blog, we wanted to share with you some of his favourite quotes on leadership, entrepreneurship and business that motivates him to succeed in the hydrovac and fluid management industry. 

If you want to know more about CJ, take a moment to read his interview here. 


Welcome to our new website!

Welcome to our new website!

Over the past few months, we've been hard at work both in the field, and working on our brand new beautiful site. 

Don't hesitate to take a look around, read each page, and admire the photos of our men, women, and trucks in action. 

Visit our company page. 

View what safety means to us.

See what regions we can service. (Hint: it's all of Western Canada).

Get a glimpse into our services, our truck specs, and what we offer. 

View our brochure!

Bookmark our blog. 

We'll now be back to regularly scheduled blog updates on industry news, company news, oil and gas updates, economic news, client highlights, employee interviews, and updates on our equipment. We'll be posting on one of these topics every week, so if you're interested, go ahead and bookmark our blog and become a regular reader! 

If you've never been to our website before, some good places to start would be these blogs:




If you're looking for an excellent hydrovac and fluid management company in Western Canada, look no further than First Call Energy.

Contact us HERE to get a quote and let's start building a better Canada together.