With every building we pass, we may not always remember the amount or type of rigorous human labor that went into it, especially when it comes to the dangers. For these workers, safety is “the most important thing that you can bring onto the job site,” says Matt Blashaw, contractor and host of HGTV's “Vacation House For Free.” Blashaw stresses the importance of construction workers being able to have the constant, acute awareness necessary for this type of work. Long, grueling hours can make this more challenging. “Most of the accidents happen when you think, ‘Just this one time, I can take shortcut here.’ It only takes one time for a serious injury to happen.”

ON SITE: For Blashaw, when it comes to construction sites, the most important safety protocol is awareness, in terms of both your environment and personal comfort.

Concentration is key

Blashaw notes that safety protocol must be a priority for the corporations, and often is: “When I did “Project Extreme”, [the managers] took a good hour just to go over the safety walking around the job site, being aware and that when you're doing your job you need to maintain focus.”

"'Not only are you thinking about your safety, you’re thinking about the job you’re doing as well.'"

“The number one thing for safety that is the most important is awareness. Every day, [construction workers] need to be reminded that their job and what they do requires concentration, and if you feel uncomfortable — to stop.” In moments of uncertainty, a pause to reassess, readjust or seek assistance could be the defining moment before serious injury. “You may finish the job two minutes later, but it's worth it,” says Blashaw.

In addition to being extremely physically demanding work, it’s mentally exhausting. “It’s scary, you get mentally tired as well and that's when the most dangerous things happen,” Blashaw warns. “That's when workers can get harmed.” Especially when it comes to high-stakes jobs like building construction 100 feet in the air. “There are so many things to think about. Not only are you thinking about your safety, you’re thinking about the job you’re doing as well. It takes a while to get used to it. You’ve got to have a sense about your surroundings, about the work that you’re doing. My hat goes off to these men and women that are out there every day in these conditions.”

HIGH STAKES: Situational and personal awareness are especially important in situations where the work is physically demanding, as injuries are largely due to physical and mental exhaustion.

Sky-high standards

For this type of grueling work, there are often lengthy training procedures. Brashaw discusses a three-week training course that he was once required to take solely for use of the harness. The corporations, according to Brashaw, take this training very seriously: “If you are on a jobsite and management sees that you're not doing your job, it’s potential to be fired. They are looking out for your best interest and that could be your life.”

A lot of these companies take pride in their high safety standards, and often the foreman will speak with each worker before a shift to remind workers of what they need to do, wear and be aware of that day. Typically, they’ll spend 15-20 minutes downloading that information to construction workers so that they can be in the right mindset.

“It’s not like showing up to work and sitting at a desk and doing paperwork,” says Brashaw. “There are so many other factors that go into it, and it can be very stressful. Not only because you're trying to do your job, but you're trying to make it home at night. I have such respect for all these men and women that enter these jobs and make these incredible buildings and incredible structures.”