Construction operatives, also known as building operatives, groundworkers or labourers, work on all types of construction projects, including housing, factories, offices, roads, bridges, airports and many others. They prepare the building site, marking out and digging shallow holes and trenches for foundations and drains, and erect hoardings, safety signs, barriers and site huts. They also set up and dismantle ladders and scaffolding; prepare building materials such as cement and plaster; transport, stack and remove materials; and lay drains, pipes, manhole covers and inspection chambers.
Common tasks include:
Construction operatives work a basic 39-hour week, often starting early in the morning. Overtime at weekends and evenings is required when deadlines need to be met. Seasonal work is quite common and working away from home for short and long periods may be necessary.
Construction operatives work on site, inside and outside in all weathers and often at heights. Protective clothing such as safety helmets, ear defenders, goggles and boots are worn for most jobs. The work is physically demanding, and involves using a range of tools and carrying heavy or awkward materials.
To be a construction operative you should:
Construction operatives work for building or engineering contractors, local authorities and other public organisations. Although the main construction shortages are in the skilled trades, opportunities are still good due to the increasing expansion of the sector. There may also be opportunities for overseas contract work. Relocation may be necessary for some projects, for example, the 2012 Olympic Games site facilities.
It is possible for operatives to progress to technician level or to become site supervisors, and to move into specialised areas of work.
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