Being a construction worker is truly satisfying, because at the end of the project you have a tangible product you can admire for all your hard work. You get up early, you work long hours in less than ideal conditions, and you sweat a lot. But, even though many find it satisfying, the main reason we work is for money.
In a report published in December of 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analyzed the median pay of 19 different construction jobs that only require a high school diploma or equivalent, like a GED. Based on their findings, it appears that construction workers, overall are much better off than most industries, as the median pay for those in the construction industry in general was $41,380 in May of 2014 versus $35,540 for all other occupations. That equals a 16.4% yearly salary premium more than non-construction workers.
Let’s get to the top 10 list:
10. Solar Voltaic Installers
2014 median pay: $40,020
Job description: install solar panels on roofs or other structures. As solar panels begin to get stronger, lighter, and cheaper, we can expect this technology to become more popular.
2014 median pay: $40,820
Job description: generally, carpenters frame and finish structures, such as doorframes, stairways, rafters, among others.
8. Construction Equipment Operators
2014 median pay: $42,900
Job description: drive heavy construction equipment, such as loaders, dozers, and excavators. Construction equipment can be very dangerous to operate, so it’s important to be very well trained and stay aware of your surroundings.
7. Sheet Metal Workers
2014 median pay: $45,070
Job description: fabricate and/or install products made from thin metal sheets, such as HVAC duct work.
2014 median pay: $48,520
Job description: install structural steel and other reinforcing steel
5. Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
2014 median pay: $50,660
Job description: install the piping for waste, water, gas and vent lines.
2014 median pay: $51,110
Job description: install and repair electrical systems, including lighting, controls, communication wiring.
3. Construction and Building Inspectors
2014 median pay: $56,040
Job description: examine and verify that application building codes are being followed on specific construction job sites
2014 median pay: $59,860
Job description: install and repair boilers and other systems that hold liquids or gases.
1. Elevator Installers and Repairers
2014 median pay: $78,620
Job description: install and repair elevators. Far and away the highest paid of all construction trades.
The BLS also included 9 other construction jobs and their median salaries:
19. Construction Laborer and Helper: $30,190
18. Roofers: $35,760
17. Painters, Construction, and Maintenance: $35,950
16. Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters: $37,380
15. Insulation Workers: $37,790
14. Glaziers: $38,410
13. Hazardous Materials Removal Workers: $38,520
12. Masonry Workers: $38,720
11. Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers and Tapers: $38,97
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We have a lot of safety rules in construction and it’s practically impossible to monitor your job site for compliance of every single rule. To complicate matters, many rules are based upon exposure limits, especially when airborne particles are involved. OSHA recently reduced the allowable exposure limit of silica dust, which is found in concrete, stone, and brick, before additional PPE or engineering controls are required. This rule change has caused a lot of grief among construction industry groups, who called the rule technologically infeasible, because what contractor is really set up to measure when 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter of air is actually reached?
Twitter, the social media site that people seem to either love or hate, has made people more aware of their surroundings and can be a soundboard for controversy. For some companies, Twitter is used for a large part of their customer service program, responding to complaints within the 160 character limit. Now, it seems, contractors could potentially have a powerful watchdog looking over their shoulder, as long as the tweets land in the right hands.
Billions of dollars are spent by cities and countries to prepare for summer and winter Olympics. Many stadiums, housing and other infrastructure are built to not only be able to handle the games, but also the enormous amount of people that will eventually inhabit the city for a few weeks. But, that’s just it, it’s only for a few weeks. What happens after the games are over and there’s no longer a need for an International Broadcast Center or a handball venue? In the past, the answer has been to let the area rot away and be a hotbed of vandalism, but Rio has taken a different approach.
If positioned the right way, paper is known to give some pretty mean paper cuts, so say to the office tethered thrill seekers of the world. Try to cut wood by running a sheet of paper against it, however, and you’ll end up a mangled piece of paper. But, perhaps we’ve been using paper the wrong way all along. Maybe it’s a metaphor for life, put an object or a person in the wrong situation and get poor results, but put them in the right situation and you’ll reap the rewards.
Remember when all phones did was make calls? Me either. Smartphones are becoming more and more powerful by the day, they’re already cameras, note takers, and thermal imaging cameras, but now they can add x-ray vision sensors to the list.
In March 2013, Flintlock Construction was building a hotel at a Manhattan construction site known as the 325 Project. OSHA inspectors visited the site and delivered three separate scaffolding violations that added up to a total of $249,920 in OSHA fines. Flintlock Construction immediately filed an appeal and that appeal was heard in July 2015.
There are some things in life that are promised… such as taxes, death, and buying something used that you will later wish you hadn’t. Whether it is a Craigslist flat screen TV or a used car, it is always smart to be slightly wary about used goods.
Hoisting equipment and construction are no different.
Plastic bottles are probably inside more buildings than we’d care to know about, as I’ve personally (and unfortunately) been on enough job sites to see way too many bottles thrown around the job site, outside of trash containers. A large percentage of the bottles that are lucky enough to make it in a dumpster, end up in a landfill where it takes them an estimated 500 years to fully decompose! In an effort to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our nation’s landfills, one startup company is hoping to turn recycled plastic into the next green construction material.
Though the venues of the Rio Olympics may look great on camera, the behind the scenes issues that occurred left Olympic officials stunned. It seemed that Rio was behind schedule from the start, which may have fueled some of the job site conditions that resulted in 11 construction workers’ deaths over the course of the project. Even back in 2014, John D. Coates, the Vice President of the Olympic Committee told reporters that Brazil was not ready for the Olympics “in many, many ways” and also called their preparation worse than Athens, Greece in 2004. Brazil was also the host of the 2014 World Cup and 8 construction workers were killed on the job, including 2 that were killed by a collapsed crane at San Paulo Stadium. Zero deaths were reported during the building process for the 2012 London Olympics.