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Three Cheers for Labourers!

Apr 1, 2008
The unsung hero of a builder's team is the labourer. He doesn't have a high profile and his contributions to a building project are rarely publicly recognised, so who are labourers, what do they do and can anyone be one?

Not everyone is suited to the job of a labourer. Its tough work - both physically and because its low in the building hierarchy. Its not particularly well paid but it can provide steady work, and for people who like to be within a team but who don't want too much responsibility it can be a good option.

All building projects need a labourer, either at certain times or throughout. The range of building projects labourers work on is endless. From home improvement to the construction of factories, offices, hospitals and schools, roads, airports, bridges and countless other structures.

Labourers tend to be needed most during the first fix phase of a project ie demolition, clearing and creating the basic structures. Second fix (plastering, fittings, decoration) is left to specialist trades.

Their first job is to prepare the building site. This includes setting up site huts, safety barriers, signage and marking out where work is to take place.

Once work begins they may need to demolish old parts of a building and clear the site of rubble, then set up ladders and scaffolding. Labourers will also transport, carry and stack materials. In addition they prepare building materials such as cement and plaster and assist in laying pipes and drains and digging foundations.

When working on roads a labourer lays concrete, kerbs, paving and surfacing. On municipal drainage projects he will guide a crane operator in laying pipes into place, and when large concrete structures are being built it's labourers who bend and fix steel bars which reinforce the structures from within.

Labourers need to know how to use a variety of hand and power tools and may also drive builders vans to transport materials.

So who can become a labourer? First off you need to be physically fit as it's a demanding job involving a lot of carrying of heavy materials and other tasks that require strength. Quite often you will be up high on scaffolding so a head for heights is a must. On a busy site you will need to follow verbal and written instructions without delay, so you need a good grasp of builders' terms including methods and materials. It is of course essential to have a good awareness of health and safety issues - both for yourself and the people around you.

You may be working inside or outside, rain or shine. You'll need to wear protective clothing such as boots, goggles, a helmet and sometimes ear defenders. Training is usually given on the job and some employers will give time off for day release courses at local colleges to attain NVQ qualifications in Construction and Civil Engineering Services.

So who are likely employers? Obviously building contractors large and small need labourers. But there are also jobs with local authorities and other public organisations. Many building contractors offer temporary work as and when required. This can lead to opportunities in all parts of the country and even abroad. And it can make for a good holiday job for students looking to earn some extra cash.

Labourers work hard and make building jobs possible. They make sure the basics of a structure are solid and safe, allowing the more specialist trades to embellish it with lights, plumbing, decoration and carpentry.
About the Author
Expert builder India Cooper singles out the labourers praises as the unsung hero within the builder team. To find out more please visit http://www.ratedpeople.com/find/builder
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