Anyone who has raised teenagers knows that what seems to beat first look a good idea, often is not.

At last month’s Bauma, the global construction trade show produced by Messe München International, organizers learned there’s a significant difference in what is legal, but what is safe. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the effect of the show organizer’s decision may have long term effects on the public’s perception of construction safety.

Prior to the event, I received an invitation from Annett Munninger to book my flight ticket with AirEmotion on stand F 7 / 717. The firm, AirEmotion, offered daily “flights” during which participants were hoisted above the outdoor exhibit area to a height of more than 50 meters to enjoy an inspiring panoramic view. I was advised not to “miss out on the chance of this breathtaking BAUMA experience! “

When I went out to look at the activity, I saw a host of brave souls lined up ready to risk their lives for a brief bird’s eye view. There was festive music playing through a speaker system, and a DJ stirred up the crowd to cheer the “flyers”.

What I found even more crazy was that the participants paid to have a chance to violate one of the construction industry’s most sacred rules – never place a worker on the end of a cable unless absolutely necessary.

The cavalier approach to safety represented by this activity was a shame. In another portion of the event, Bauma organizers had presented a much needed interactive display area to which they invited school age children to learn about the construction industry. Hopefully the students learned that construction is not a daredevil career.

And it’s not as if the organizers didn’t know about the faux pas this activity presented to the construction industry. At the International Powered Access Federation’s press conference, Tim Whiteman, the group’s Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director, expressed his dismay that the carnival event was taking place just a few hundred yards from his booth.

Whiteman said that he had sent Messe München International a letter asking that the organizer not allow the activity. Whiteman reported that the show organizer recognized IPAF’s concerned, and promised not to include similar activities in future exhibitions.

Fortunately our industry is full of contractors who take safety more seriously than the Bauma organizers. For example, Grant Contracting, a St. Louis Mo. Based certified mason contractor, was named the 2012 Safety Award Winner by the American Subcontractors Association – Midwest Council. It is a combination of several factors, but starts with our field personnel’s daily attention to safe work practices. Brian Grant, the company’s president attribute the success of the safety program to the fact it is ingrained through management commitment and emphasis. “We provide on-going training and evaluation, and participate in industry safety-related endeavors,” said Grant.