Construction crews work on bridges, buildings, roads and other structures for both private and commercial use. They also help with renovations on homes, churches, schools, public buildings and water lines to make them safe and convenient for residents and visitors. Most construction work requires the use of power tools and specialized equipment to prepare, install and complete building projects. Even though construction workers have typical work-related responsibilities, some unusual and unexpected facts make them stand out in the labor force.
Age and Job Outlook
The average age of a construction worker is 47, according to the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, as reported at Buildingc3.com. Even though young apprentices are joining the industry, many construction workers are "baby boomers" and are nearing retirement age. As a result, a large number of them will leave the industry over the next decade and will be replaced by less experienced workers. Although the expected national job growth rate of construction workers is 21 percent between 2010 and 2020, 40 percent of that workforce demand is for construction helpers, not experts in the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012.
Most construction jobs require minimal skills, and work tasks are learned quickly, the BLS reports. Even though some construction jobs are highly technical, dangerous and complex, only a minority of construction workers are needed to perform those procedures. General construction workers often install barriers and cones to manage traffic patterns or use brooms and shovels to prepare and clean up work sites. A limited number of specialized construction workers lay concrete, transport and install explosives, operate hydraulic equipment, use surveillance equipment to get accurate measurements and operate laser beams to install pipes, says the BLS.
Personal Safety Gear
In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed to help protect workers against unsafe construction practices and hazardous conditions. Workers can take a OSHA training and safety class and receive a certificate showing completion of the course. During the class, workers learn about the importance of safety gear. Hard hats must be worn on most construction sites, so it is common to see businessmen in suits and businesswomen in suits, skirts or dresses wearing hard hats while they are on location. Boots must have a steel toe and be puncture-proof, and American National Standards Institute safety glasses are marked Z87.1, according to the website Buildingcareers.org. The Z87.1 marking signifies that extensive testing was performed to ensure protection against flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids, chemical gases and dangerous light radiation, in keeping with OHSA requirements.
Famous 1932 Photo of "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper"
The famous 1932 photo that was made into a highly commercialized poster and shows 11 men sitting on a beam of the GE building eating lunch is authentic, with no modifications or computerized alterations, according to Jamie Frater, software developer, historian of lesser-known trivia and founder of the ListVerse website. The photo was taken on the 69th floor just months before construction of the building was completed. It wasn't until 2003 that the risk-taking photographer was identified as Charles Ebbets, and for many years the poster was credited to "Unknown."
- BuildingCareers.org: A Little Safety Goes a Long Way!
- Building California Construction Careers: Construction Industry Facts
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Construction Laborers and Helpers - Job Outlook
- ListVerse: 10 Interesting Facts Behind Popular Posters
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Eye and Face Protection
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images