Recently, I saw a video of a construction worker hanging from a crane in Toronto. They’re okay, suffering minor injuries to a hand (though, no one talks about mental health, and I can imagine this was a rather terrifying experience). Their hand became stuck in a cable, which is how they ended up in this position, but I have to ask how there wasn’t another person with a radio present to command the crane operator to put this pallet back down immediately after it became apparent there was a problem (or even earlier, before it became dangerous).
No one has an answer to that question at the time of writing, but it brings my attention to an important part of construction work.. doing nothing. There is a trope of seeing construction workers standing around, apparently doing nothing, and this is often used to justify calling them lazy, and construction overpriced.
The beginning of the following video covers what’s actually going on in these situations very well, but the tl;dw of it is: Things don’t always go according to plan, everyone needs breaks, and looking out for problems is very important. Why wasn’t someone standing around to notice a stuck hand before it became dangerous?
While keeping a watch for safety is a specific job that is only employed for certain activities at certain times, everyone who is standing around is another set of eyes that can notice a problem before it becomes dangerous (or even just.. a problem that will hinder the construction effort), or who can respond in the event of an emergency.
Breaks are important, and supervising takes less effort than physical labor. People standing around to take a break are also supervising the work. They may not have the documents or job title to say they should be watching, but everyone with experience watching activity onsite is helpful.
The above was written in July, shortly after the publication of the embedded video. I have much more to say about work, but it has been half a year without publication. I feel it is important to not leave this draft lying around.