5 Tips for New Construction Workers
Be prepared to stay safe and make a good impression.
Congratulations! You’ve landed a job on a construction project. Whether it’s your first job ever, your first job in construction or your first job with a new crew, you’ll want to make a good impression. Here are five ways to do it.
1. Show up on time. It can be a challenge to roll out of bed at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. to make it to a jobsite by 6 or 7. But that’s how the construction industry operates. Go to bed early the night before. If you tend to sleep through an alarm, set two and put one out of reach so you’ll have to get out of bed to shut it off. Make sure you know where the jobsite is and figure out in advance how to get there, ready to work, by starting time. Ask ahead of time where you’re supposed to park your vehicle. It’s a lot easier to function early in the morning if you’ve figured all these things out.
2. Come prepared. When you accept a job offer, ask what tools or equipment your employer expects you to bring to the worksite. Should you show up with a hammer and toolbelt? Supply your own hardhat, work boots, gloves or safety googles? Do they have to meet certain specifications? You don’t want to be sent home from a jobsite on your first day — or any day — because you didn’t come to work equipped. Dress properly for the weather so you’re not freezing or sweating by 11 a.m. It can’t hurt to bring a pen and small notebook so you can jot down important instructions. You’ll probably also want to bring a lunch.
3. Put away your cell phone. A recent study shows that Americans check their cell phones an average of 80 times a day. But a construction jobsite is not a good place to send a text, answer an email or look at a website. Bad things can happen if you’re distracted for even a second when you’re operating a power tool, working on a roof, holding one end of a long piece of lumber or driving a forklift. OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) prohibits operators of cranes and similar equipment from using cell phones while they’re working with their machines. In addition, many construction companies are now requiring workers to put their cell phones away until they’re officially on a break.
4. Show up every day. When you were in school, it may not have been a big deal if you skipped a day. But when you’re working construction, meeting project deadlines depends on everyone being there. If your company can’t meet those deadlines, it might not get paid — and that means you’re risking your own paycheck by not showing up. Make sure you know who to call if you can’t go to work because you’re sick or there’s a family emergency — and them be sure to call them.
5. Work safely and remain alert. The best construction companies make the safety of their workers a priority, and you should make it a personal priority as well. That begins with using personal protection equipment (PPE) and following the company’s safety policies. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about some aspect of the work, don’t wait for something bad to happen; talk to your supervisor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. But otherwise, keep quiet and listen.
Staying safe also means staying aware of what’s happening around you. A construction jobsite is a busy place. Taking a step backwards to admire your work at the wrong time could put you in the path of an oncoming vehicle. Stay alert to stay alive.
While these tips may seem basic, they’re key to doing well on your first day and every day throughout your construction career.
Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.