It’s not just a job. It’s a lifestyle

Working in the Field.  It’s a lifestyle upon which our members demonstrate and maintain a passion and excitement for.

07, May, 2014

Technical and science professionals operate under various expectations and standards, throughout an array of disciplines and industries. Field work is one of the many specializations technical professionals train for, adapt to, and grow from on a daily basis.

There is an unspoken culture that goes along with working in the field, encompassing a structure that revolves around language, decision-making, behavior, adaptation, and ongoing training. The prospects are high and continue to intensify throughout a professional’s career. Technical professionals generally agree that, similar to any profession, working in the field presents challenges—difficulties that are achievable with the right perspective.

Technical professionals regularly encounter unforeseen obstacles that directly impact their daily activities and tasks. As a fellow Albertan, we are all aware of our province’s constant weather fluctuations, varying from very hot climates to extremely cold temperatures. Most field workers adapt to the changes accordingly, welcoming everything that comes with working outdoors to compensate for the unexpected. Professionals must remain readily prepared for any kind of situation that may arise, including freezing conditions, ravenous mosquitoes in the summer, muskeg, mountains, and the risks of working near wildlife.

Oftentimes, unpredictable weather causes risky driving conditions. Field workers are expected to commute from site to site. Upon arriving to the site, technical professionals are frequently greeted with complex and varied terrain. Field workers must settle on the best practice in approaching difficult situations, such as avoiding creeks or accessing steep gulch. Professionals exhibit a sense of fascination when approaching these circumstances. A sense of determination allows them to deliver optimal results to clients, who typically have limited time or tolerance for any delays.

Upon entering a work site, regardless of the weather or terrain, physical constraints often arise. Given the uniqueness of each job site, thorough analyses of the limitations that could potentially, or will inevitably, develop is crucial in the assessment of a job. Beyond the location’s physical restrictions, field workers must be physically capable of handling heavy-duty machinery, including chainsaws, quads, and the requirement to dig through meters of snow in the dead of winter.

In handling the above equipment, the know-how to spontaneously react to complex situations is equally important. Should someone injure themselves onsite, the ability to tend to the injury is crucial. Field workers undergo a comprehensive training program in order to respond to these intricate conditions in a timely, organized, and strategic manner. All field workers must acquire all necessary safety tickets as well as job-specific training to ensure that each individual is prepared for any potential hazards in their work environment.
“They’re out there working in the field, they’ve probably got a hundred and fifty, two hundred thousand dollars’ worth of equipment with them, they’ve got to take care of it and they have to work on their own. They’re in dangerous situations with very little support. So common sense is a big thing.” Bruce Winton, President, McElhanney Land Surveys Ltd.

To gain a better understanding of the different expectations and standard of working in the field, ASET connected with the McElhanney Group. Comprised of McElhanney Land Surveys Ltd., and McElhanney Consulting Services, the McElhanney family of companies is owned and managed by their senior employees, with a team of professional support staff who offer the highest quality service in a team-oriented environment. With over 25 locations throughout Western Canada, the McElhanney family continues to provide high quality, innovative and committed service, as well as corporate support to various initiatives annually.
“Each job site is different. There is always going to be a new problem to figure out.”
What drives our members to work in the field when the daily tasks and the outcomes come with a high level of unpredictability? Yearly, our members invest their energy and expertise into projects that matter—developments that directly impact Alberta’s infrastructure, agriculture, transportation, and resources. Without the dedication of our field workers, “Alberta Advantage” would be at a disadvantage. Alberta continues to be an innovative, progressive province, due in part to the hard work of our members.

While working in the field can often met with challenges, field workers can attest to the ongoing variety of their positions, along with the rewards of nature, wilderness, and changeability of their work. Working outdoors is more than “just a job,” it’s a lifestyle upon which our members demonstrate and maintain a passion and excitement for.