There are many highly skilled and specialized jobs on a construction site, but there are also hundreds of tasks to be done that don’t require any skill at all. These duties are often physically demanding and dangerous, and they fall to general laborers on the job site. Known as construction helpers or laborers, these workers are often at the highest risk of injury on a construction site. Regardless of their position on the site, construction helpers are just as entitled to compensation if they are injured as anyone else on the job.
Duties of Construction Helpers and Laborers on Job Sites
Often the lowest workers on the totem pole, helpers and laborers do most of the tedious but necessary jobs on a construction site, including site preparation, demolition, and clean-up. These tasks might include:
- Removing debris and cleaning up waste
- Managing traffic in road construction zones
- Loading and unloading materials
- Building and taking down scaffolding
- Digging trenches, backfilling holes, and preparing the ground for construction
- Assisting skilled workers with their duties
Because of the nature of the work, laborers are exposed to multiple hazards every day. The only construction-site workers who are injured and killed more frequently than laborers are roofers.
Why Prep and Clean-Up Work Is So Dangerous
Every job on a construction site exposes the worker to dangers, but helpers and laborers are often at higher risk of injury. This is because their duties are less specialized, and they are often put to work with little explanation or training. As low-paid, often short-term workers, laborers are often expected to get up to speed quickly, and supervisors don’t want to invest time and money in training them and providing safety gear. Risks these workers face include the following:
Working in hazardous zones
Construction helpers tend to be stationed in the more dangerous areas of worksites. In road construction, they are often responsible for directing traffic, putting them at greater risk of being hit by a negligent driver. On building sites, they are tasked with prepping a site, which puts them in contact with unknown hazards, and cleaning up debris and waste material, which could include toxic chemicals, sharp objects, broken tools, scrap lumber, and other dangerous refuse.
Using dangerous tools with no training
Unskilled laborers might be given access to power tools on a construction site, but they might not receive any training on how to use them safely. They could operate forklifts or diggers to prep or clean a work site, jackhammers to break up pavement, and vehicles to move material around.
Doing strenuous work with little instruction
Anyone lifting and moving heavy material is at risk of sustaining a musculoskeletal injury, especially if they are not properly trained and provided with tools and equipment to help. Helpers are often responsible for loading and unloading trucks, moving waste piles, and delivering goods and tools to skilled workers with little regard for their safety.
Handling difficult material
In the process of prepping or clearing a construction zone, helpers deal with all kinds of awkward and hazardous materials. They could be injured by mishandling heavy, toxic, sharp, or otherwise dangerous material.
Construction laborers and helpers might be unaware of the dangers they face and take unnecessary risks, but that does not mean they are not entitled to compensation if they are injured.
Common Accidents Involving Construction Helpers
Given the risky environment they are often placed in, construction laborers and helpers are at risk of having the following accidents:
Workers may suffer injuries due to falls from ladders, scaffolding, roofs, or other elevated surfaces.
Laborers can be hit by falling objects, such as tools, equipment, or construction materials.
Contact with live wires, faulty electrical equipment, or inadequate grounding can lead to severe electrical injuries.
Heavy lifting, repetitive motions, and awkward postures can cause sprains, strains, and other musculoskeletal disorders.
Helpers can be injured by machinery and equipment, including amputations, crush injuries, and entanglement hazards.
If you or a loved one was injured while working in a minimum-wage, unskilled job on a construction site in New York or New Jersey, our legal team can help you understand your rights.