What is a Construction Worker?

A construction worker is someone who does many basic tasks that require physical labour on construction sites.

Also known as: Construction Labourer, Construction Laborer

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What does a Construction Worker do?

Construction workers work on all construction sites, doing a wide range of tasks from the very easy to the extremely difficult and hazardous. Although many of the tasks they do require some training and experience, most jobs usually require little skill and can be learned quickly.

A construction worker typically does the following:

  • Cleans and prepares construction sites by removing debris and possible hazards
  • Loads or unloads building materials to be used in construction
  • Builds or takes apart bracing, barricades, forms (moulds that determine the shape of concrete), scaffolding, and temporary structures
  • Digs trenches, backfills holes, or compacts earth to prepare for construction
  • Operates or tends equipment and machines used in construction, such as concrete mixers
  • Helps other craft workers with their duties
  • Follows construction plans and instructions from the people they are working for

Construction workers do a variety of construction-related activities during all phases of construction. Although most are generalists—such as those who install barricades, cones, and markers to control traffic patterns—many others specialize. For example, those who operate the machines and equipment that lay concrete or asphalt on roads are more likely to specialize in those areas.

The following are occupational specialties::

  • Building homes and businesses
  • Tearing down buildings
  • Removing hazardous materials
  • Building highways and roads
  • Digging tunnels and mine shafts

Construction workers use a variety of tools and equipment. Some tools are simple, such as brooms and shovels; other equipment is more sophisticated, such as pavement breakers, jackhammers, earth tampers, and surveying equipment. With special training, workers may help transport and use explosives or run hydraulic boring machines to dig out tunnels. They may learn to use laser beam equipment to place pipes and use computers to control robotic pipe cutters. They may become certified to remove asbestos, lead, or chemicals.

Construction workers assist craftworkers, such as electricians and carpenters, with a variety of basic tasks. They may carry tools and materials or help set up equipment. For example, they may work with cement masons to move and set forms. Others may assist with taking apart equipment, cleaning up sites, and disposing of waste. The following are examples of trades that have associated helpers:

What is the workplace of a Construction Worker like?

Construction workers held about 1 million jobs in 2010, of which 59% were employed in the construction industry. About 23% of construction workers were self-employed. Most do physically demanding work. Some work at great heights or outdoors in all weather conditions. Some may be required to work in tunnels. They must use earplugs around loud equipment and wear gloves, safety glasses, and other protective gear.

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