Construction Laborers and Helpers
Construction laborers and helpers do many basic tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.
Construction laborers and helpers typically do the following:
- Clean and prepare construction sites by removing debris and possible hazards
- Load or unload building materials to be used in construction
- Build or take apart bracing, barricades, forms (molds that determine the shape of concrete), scaffolding, and temporary structures
- Dig trenches, backfill holes, or compact earth to prepare for construction
- Operate or tend equipment and machines used in construction, such as concrete mixers
- Help other craftworkers with their duties
- Follow construction plans and instructions from the people they are working for
Construction laborers and helpers work on almost 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.
The following are occupational specialties:
Construction laborers do a variety of construction-related activities during all phases of construction. Although most laborers 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.
Most construction laborers work in the following areas:
- Building homes and businesses
- Tearing down buildings
- Removing hazardous materials
- Building highways and roads
- Digging tunnels and mine shafts
Construction laborers 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, laborers 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.
Helpers assist construction 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, many helpers work with cement masons to move and set forms. Many other helpers assist with taking apart equipment, cleaning up sites, and disposing of waste, as well as helping with any other needs of craftworkers.
Many construction trades have helpers who assist craftworkers. The following are examples of trades that have associated helpers:
- Brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, and tile and marble setters
- Painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons
- Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters