Defined by the People: Tammie Nagel’s Construction Journey

Growing up on a farm, Tammie Nagel knew the importance of safety, how machinery worked, and what it was like to be in the field. She also knew she wanted a career where she could help people. What started as a career in nursing led to becoming a Regional Safety Manager with Graham, a construction solutions partner, and over 20 years of experience in an industry she loves dearly.

While working as a nurse in a small town, Tammie came to know a patient who suggested she come and work with him. She decided to visit the plant where he worked, interviewed for a position, and hasn’t looked back since. Starting in safety as a community affairs assistant and plant nurse, Tammie’s boss quickly pointed out she had a natural ability and pushed her to get her National Construction Safety Officer (NCSO) certification. 

As she went through her training, and helped conduct a safety audit, Tammie fell in love with the idea of safety as a career and knew she wanted to make a change. She was hired on the spot as a safety coordinator at a small construction company, where she spent many years building relationships with the workers and learning everything they did on a day-to-day basis so she could provide the most effective protection. 

The job is not just defined by the tools of construction, it’s defined by the people,” Tammie says. “I learned so much from the teams in the field. They were so open to having me there and to me learning every day. I had my boots on the ground and they made me feel like part of the group. They were my most valuable resource.”

Even after 20 years in construction, Tammie’s commitment to education has never waned. She obtained her Gold Seal Certification in 2010 as a Safety practitioner and her Canadian Register Safety Professional (CRSP) designation in 2013. She’s taken advantage of almost all the courses offered through the Alberta Construction Safety Association (ACSA), plus things like Workers Compensation Board (WCB) training, investigation training, fall protection training, respirator fit testing, and several communications and management training courses. 

During her time in the industry, Tammie has seen the perception of safety change. It’s no longer just something the safety team owns, but everyone on a project is aware of how important it is. Another change she’s seen is how many more opportunities there are for everyone. 

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what kind of education you have, there’s a place here for you in construction,” she says. “There’s all kinds of disciplines and strengths. We need all different aspects and views to come in. Whether you want to be a labourer or office worker, a career in construction is a great choice.”

Interested in a career like Tammie’s?

Here are some resources that have helped her, or that she’s been involved with, throughout her career:

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