Beginning in 1894, the first Monday of September was designated a federal holiday: Labor Day. While it represents all manner of workers in the U.S., the efforts—and sacrifices—made by construction workers are so important to how this country has grown and evolved that we wanted to make special mention of them.
What distinguishes construction workers from others is the sheer physicality of the jobs they do. While much of the heavy lifting is done by machines these days, workers can end up in difficult and dangerous situations every day, whether that’s at great heights building a tower or depths, digging and excavating. So while the typical pay is high, the conditions for work can be difficult and stressful.
No matter the job, there are sacrifices that these workers make that are universal. Acknowledging them is important because without these workers, so much of the infrastructure that the rest of us rely on wouldn’t exist or would be in disastrous shape.
Working all hours of the day and night
While some workers will have to get up and start very early in the morning, and finish earlier in the day (2:30 p.m.), some construction jobs don’t lend themselves to these hours. A job that has to adhere to sound restrictions, in a residential neighborhood for example, might not work that way.
Other jobs have extremely tight timelines, requiring shifts that run 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. This kind of changeable work can make it hard to maintain a good sleep schedule, something a physical job requires. Starting work at 3 in the morning and finishing at 7 in the evening for weeks on end is taxing. A well planned project shouldn’t expose its workers to this level of time stress, but situations do come up, where timelines aren’t flexible.
The odd hours—including weekends—can also mean that construction workers are missing out on some important family events and milestones, which is hard on them and their families.
Traveling to construction locations
The location of a project can also mean that construction workers are away from their homes and families for weeks, if not months, at a time. This is hard for everyone but with projects located in more remote places, it’s a regular issue.
Some workers prefer it this way, as they are able to concentrate and get their jobs done, and then fully give themselves over to their families and friends, when they’re home. But it’s not for everyone.
Working in extreme weather conditions
Since construction typically takes place in the great outdoors, workers could be facing any number of weather conditions, from ice cold to blistering heat. Wind is another issue, particularly on projects involving heights. Extreme rain and/or snow can bring an excavation project to a halt, but otherwise, the work goes on and the weather is just another factor to be dealt with.
Accounting for weather conditions isn’t always possible: sometimes, a project must move forward, but part of any good health and safety plan for a company will include ensuring that their team is properly equipped and hydrated, so they can work safely and in some measure of comfort.
The dangers of a construction site
The reality is that there are always dangers inherent in any site. Large machinery and a moment of inattention is all it takes for something to go disastrously wrong. That said, companies like OE Construction go well above and beyond the minimum standards and requirements to ensure that their teams are always as safe as possible, every minute of every working day.
Construction work, like any other physical jobs, have a time limit. You won’t see many 65 year old construction works for a reason! But when done safely, the work is rewarding, lucrative and so valuable to the growth of our economy and our country.