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Sky-high in Edmonton

Ironworkers posing for a photo on a steel beam 69 floors up were suspended - and one worker was fired


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August 7, 2018 by John Bleasby

Celebrating the topping off of the tallest building in Western Canada took a negative turn when photographs of ironworkers posing without harnesses resulted in job suspensions and firing. The Building Trades of Alberta (BTA) posted photos of the highly skilled trades atop the 69 floor of the Stantec building on their Facebook page. It was a direct homage to the project workers and an indirect tip-of-the-hard-hat to the famous photos taken in the 1930’s of ironworkers working on a New York City skyscraper.

A group of ironworkers pose 69 floors above Edmonton
(photo: Alberta Building Trades Facebook page)

However, someone was not amused. Within 24 hours of posting, the North American Steel Erectors employees were suspended from the site and another worker fired. It is not clear whether the issue was a safety concern or a violation of social media policies. No one seemed willing to comment on the situation.

“When you’re constructing the tallest building in Western Canada, you need the very best skilled trades workers you can find,” the BTA website says. “Work at the top of Edmonton’s skyline — it’s not for the faint of heart, but it is symbolic of the quality work and top-notch skills Local 720 ironworkers bring to every project.” The five high quality photos and commentary remain online.

Almost 200 online comments are posted, all in praise of the workers.

“This is so amazing!”
“Shame these guys all had to lose their jobs or be suspended over this!! What bullshit.”
“Pride in your job is an amazing thing. I understand non-disclosure but what confidentiality did they actually disclose, other than pride!!”
“These MEN should be rewarded, not penalized for these milestone photos. Put them back to work and give them a raise! FABULOUS moment! Great job. The suits put the plan together, MEN make it happen!”

High altitude workers on Toronto’s TD Tower back in the ’60’s take a break

The work site suspensions are expected to be short — the workers will be back on site next week. However, the fate of the fired worker is unknown. Interestingly, Alberta Occupational Health and Safety did not receive any complaints about the photos, despite being aware of them, according to local media.

It was only this past April that Canadian Contractor wrote about the 1975 high altitude work of steel workers on the CN Tower in Toronto. A short video celebrating the work at heights showed many workers scurrying about steel frames without harnesses. It wasn’t that unusual. Back then, trades on  skyscrapers were often seen at heights without harnesses, either working or on breaks. It was indeed a different era!

Needless to say, the Edmonton workers were in violation of a number of safety codes. Yet, the celebratory nature of the photos was clearly lost on someone.

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