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A laborer is a person who works in
manual labor Manual labour (in British English, manual labor in American English) or manual work is physical work done by humans, in contrast to labour by machines and working animals. It is most literally work done with the hands (the word "manual" comes fr ...
types, especially in the
construction Construction is a general term meaning the art and science to form objects, systems, or organizations,"Construction" def. 1.a. 1.b. and 1.c. ''Oxford English Dictionary'' Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) Oxford University Press 2009 and comes ...
and
factory A factory, manufacturing plant or a production plant is an industrial site, often a complex consisting of several buildings filled with machinery, where workers manufacture items or operate machines which process each item into another. They are ...

factory
industries'
workforce The workforce or labour force is the labour pool either in employment or unemployed.https://www.bls.gov/bls/glossary.htm It is generally used to describe those working for a single company or industry, but can also apply to a geographic region ...
. Laborers are in a class of wage-earners in which their only possession of significant material value is their labor, this is the
proletariat The proletariat ( from Latin 'producing offspring') are the social class of wage-earners, those members of a society whose only possession of significant economic value is their labour power (their capacity to work). A member of such a class is ...
. Industries employing laborers include building things such as roads, buildings, bridges, tunnels, and railway tracks. Laborers work with blasting tools,
hand tools A hand tool is any tool that is powered by hand rather than a motor. Categories of hand tools include wrenches, pliers, cutters, files, striking tools, struck or hammered tools, screwdrivers, vises, clamps, snips, saws, drills, and knives. Outdoo ...
,
power tool A power tool is a tool that is actuated by an additional power source and mechanism other than the solely manual labor used with hand tools. The most common types of power tools use electric motors. Internal combustion engines and compressed air ar ...
s,
air toolsDrilling a blast hole with a pneumatic drill (jackhammer). A pneumatic tool, air tool, air-powered tool or pneumatic-powered tool is a type of power tool, driven by compressed air supplied by an air compressor. Pneumatic tools can also be driven by c ...
, and small
heavy equipment Heavy equipment or heavy machinery refers to heavy-duty vehicles, specially designed for executing construction tasks, most frequently ones involving earthwork operations or other large construction tasks. ''Heavy equipment'' usually comprises f ...
, and act as assistants to other trades as well such as operators or cement masons. The 1st century BC engineer
Vitruvius Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (; c. 80–70 BC – after c. 15 BC), commonly known as Vitruvius, was a Roman author, architect, and civil and military engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work entitled ''De architectura' ...
writes that a good crew of laborers is just as valuable as any other aspect of construction. Other than the addition of
pneumatic Pneumatics (from Greek ‘wind, breath’) is a branch of engineering that makes use of gas or pressurized air. Pneumatic systems used in industry are commonly powered by compressed air or compressed inert gases. A centrally located and electri ...
s, laborer practices have changed little. With the introduction of field technologies, the laborers have been quick to adapt to the use of this technology as being laborers' work.


Tools and equipment

The following tools are considered a minimum for a laborer to keep with them:
hammer A hammer is a tool, most often a hand tool, consisting of a weighted "head" fixed to a long handle that is swung to deliver an impact to a small area of an object. This can be, for example, to drive nails into wood, to shape metal (as with ...
, pliers w/ side-cutters,
utility knife A utility knife is any of various types of knives used for general or utility purposes.Peterson, Harold L., ''Daggers and Fighting Knives of the Western World'', London: Herbert Jenkins Ltd., , p. 1 The utility knife was originally a fixed bl ...
,
tape measure A tape measure or measuring tape is a flexible ruler used to measure size or distance. It consists of a ribbon of cloth, plastic, fibre glass, or metal strip with linear-measurement markings. It is a common measuring tool. Its design allows ...
,
locking pliers Locking pliers Locking pliers (or Vise-Grips or a Mole wrench or a vice grip) are pliers that can be locked into position, using an over-center toggle action. History The first locking pliers, named Vise-Grips, were invented by William S. Peters ...

locking pliers
, crescent wrench,
screwdriver A screwdriver is a tool, manual or powered, used for screwing (installing) and unscrewing (removing) screws. A typical simple screwdriver has a handle and a shaft, ending in a tip the user puts into the screw head before turning the handle. Thi ...
, margin trowel, carpenter's pencil or soapstone, tool belt and one pouch (bag). In addition: a five gallon bucket with additional tools, All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment, toolbelt suspenders, Canteen (bottle), water jug and lunchbox are recommended. Most safety equipment that is consumed or work specific, for example hard hat, safety glasses, Hearing impairment#Long term exposure to environmental noise, hearing protection, gloves, Safety harness, fall protection, high-visibility clothing, Wellington boot, concrete boots, respirator/dust mask and Steel-toe boots, toe guards are provided by the employer as part of construction site safety. Personal safety equipment, for example, full leather boots (some long time laborers believe steel toes are dangerous on the construction site; it is better to have crushed toes than toes cut off by the crushed steel, high strength pants - Carhartt or jeans (some modify thighs with a sacrificial second layer of jean fabric cut from an old pair) - socks, lip balm, and climate-specific outerwear, are provided by the individual (unless laborers are instructed to work in a climate different from what they typically reside in, for example, high elevation).


Types of work

Some of the work done by laborers includes: *concrete - shotcrete, gunite, grouting and formwork *demolition - concrete saw, concrete cutting, pavement breaking, cutting and removal of interior building parts (framing members, doors, windows, wiring, piping, etc.) *environmental remediation and hazardous waste *fences and landscaping *Mowing and keeping construction site free of weeds *Street sweeper, street sweeping *Cleaning of the construction site and trash removal *Setting up temporary lights, heaters and other things needed on site *hod carrier - masonry, plasterers and fireproofing *Pavement (material), paving - white paving formwork, Road traffic control, traffic control, road surface marking, striping, signs *piping - water pipe, sanitary sewer, sewer and storm drain *field technology *general digging and grading *tunnels - drilling and blasting *Dry utilities - electrical conduit, Electrical and communications conduit *loading and offloading - handling of physical goods, such as construction materials


Pay

As a manual labor occupation, to attract free workers the wages paid to laborers are higher than those paid in general to unskilled workers (see dirty, dangerous and demeaning). In the United States, a union laborer earns equal or greater than most work available to anyone with a bachelor's degree. This is one of a few fields where someone without a high school diploma can still earn a living wage. Union, heavy construction and highway construction laborers earn on average (2008 US) $25.47/h compared to 13.72/h for non-union laborers. In addition to paid earnings, union laborers enjoy the benefits of medical insurance, vacation pay, pension plans, representation and vocational schools; totaling $45/hr (2012 US) and some with special skills earn 'over-rate' wages. It is not uncommon for young civil engineers, construction management, construction managers and construction engineering, construction engineers typical salary of (2007 US$) 40,000 to 60,000 to fall short of their union laborers average wages of 50,000 to 80,000. However, unlike engineers, laborers are not usually employed full-time year-round and face significant hazards. The additional pay laborers receive is often balanced out by the lesser unemployment checks they receive while out of work and the disability checks they receive while injured—often debilitated for life. That is if unemployment and injury insurance is provided, which is often not the case unless they are labor union members. Engineers are also not immune to being out of work. In heavy civil work, some are employed on a project basis and mental injuries due to stress are a different but debilitating hazard. Because of the wide range of skills and ability to simply provide muscle, laborers often earn side-work as independent contractors and ''under-the-table'' work. In construction, the pay for laborers is low enough that planning problems can be solved by "throwing laborers at it." This can become a toxic and dangerous brew of unplanned work that slides forward on the blood and sweat of hard-working laborers—injury rates often soar. The value of work put in place by laborers and the value of avoided rework and increased efficiencies produced by the engineers' planning is a balance of resource utilization on any large project. Union laborer often earn more than nonunion and can be an avenue for those who are uneducated and with no resources to become educated and with resources.


Hazards and conditions

There are dangers associated with laboring. Many laborers are severely injured or killed in accidents each year while performing work duties. Many who work as laborers for even a short period of time will suffer from permanent work injuries such as: hearing loss, arthritis, osteoarthritis, back injuries, eye injury, head injury, chemical burn (Lime (mineral), lime sensitivity), pneumoconiosis, lung disease, missing fingernails and skin scars. Alcoholism, Performance enhancing drug, drug use, and drug abuse are common although most companies require drug screening for all new hires. If a laborer is injured on the job they are immediately given a drug test. If the test results are positive then they are ineligible for any Workers' compensation benefits. There is a gray area for the use of cannabis (drug), marijuana due to medical marijuana prescriptions. Some who have been dismissed for failing a drug test while possessing a prescription have been later reinstated with pay as having been Wrongful dismissal, wrongfully terminated. This job, at times, and depending on who is in charge, qualifies for the Dirty, dangerous and demeaning, 3D's, Dirty, Risk, Dangerous and Demeaning, Demeaning, or showing global connotation, as the Japanese say it ''wiktionary:汚い, kitanai'', ''wiktionary:危険, kiken'', and ''wiktionary:きつい, kitsui.'' Many other times laboring is a very gratifying job with much fresh air (pneumoconiosis, jobsite air quality) and sunshine. The sheer hardship, drudgery and physical demands of the job ensure that there is always a shortage of good laborers. But, mistakes can be made and laborers have been asked to go forward with ill-made plans.


Collective bargaining

The Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) represents laborers on public and private projects in North America. Some of the business representatives are laborers who have been so severely injured they can no longer labor. With a phone call and a good reason they will be on-site the next morning asking questions and demanding apologies for mistreatment of laborers."The Special Status of Union Stewards," last accessed 1/31/2020. https://www.labornotes.org/2018/04/special-status-union-stewards


Images

File:A Laborer at Celeyran 1882 Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.jpg, 'Un ouvrier à Céleyran,' by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1882) File:Laborer Resting, by Jean-François Millet (II).jpg, Laborer Resting, by Jean-François Millet (II) (1910) File:Brick kiln workers (1).jpg, Laborer at a brick kiln (2018) File:Stone laborer in Bangladesh.jpg, Child laborers (2011) File:Laborers at Candi Sukuh, 2016-10-13.jpg, Laborers (2016) File:Indian laborer at Boulder Dam during construction - NARA - 298637.tif, Boulder Dam project (1935) File:(1919) pic05 - Chinese laborers constructing a drainage at an American aviation supply field in France.jpg, Laborers at an American aviation field in France (1919) File:Laborers.jpg, Fab-yard laborers at a fab plant (2017) File:Saigonese laborers.jpg, Laborer crew (early 1900s) File:Laborers 2.jpg, Fab-yard laborers (2017) File:Guano Chinese laborers.jpg, Guano laborers (bird guano was used for munitions) (1865) File:Chinese Railroad Laborers.jpg, Central Pacific Railroad laborers (1867) File:American Indian laborers (1906).png, Laborer crew (1906) File:Panama Canal laborers ca 1900.jpg, Laborers (early 1900s) File:Afghan laborers building a school in 2005.jpg, Laborers (early 2005) File:France. Standing in a bog of cement, laborer wiring on the stiffeners. Workers in background have received load of... - NARA - 541671.tif, Concrete laborers (early 1950s) File:Laborers at a Russian boarding house by Lewis Hines, Homestead, PA, 1909 (cropped).jpg, Pre-communist revolution laborers in Russia (1909) File:Female laborers transporting volcanic sand for making concrete in Bali.jpeg, Laborers (2008) File:Afghan day laborers help Marines fill sandbags (5224388587).jpg, Laborers (2010) File:Portugal. On the site of the new mill, a laborer puts his shoulder to the job of dumping a loaded cart full of dirt.... - NARA - 541755.tif, Laborers (late 1940s) File:FMIB 44419 Native Indian Laborers--Thlinket Packing Co.jpeg, Laborers (1908) File:Laborers (4596808922).jpg, Unionized concrete road laborers (2010) File:Laborers at the Top.jpg, Building laborer crew (2017)


See also

* Hard hat, nickname for construction workers * Navvy, particularly applied to describe the manual laborers working on British major civil engineering projects * Proletariat, a Marxist category of people who earn for living only by their physical labor power * Working class * Tradesman


References

{{Commons category, Labour Builders' labourers' trade unions Construction and extraction occupations Production occupations