Construction workers have been the most relied-upon trade workers in the history of human civilization. Construction workers are responsible for building homes, public buildings, skyscrapers, roads, highways, plumbing systems and all the important structures in the cities across the world.
The United States experienced its first great construction growth spurt after World War I, in the 1920s. This was largely due to the invention of motorized vehicles, which made new opportunities available to construction workers. During this period, the possibilities of what they could construct and how long it took quickly changed. Soon, cities became connected with paved roads and urban centers sprung up nationwide. It is estimated that 1.5 million new homes and 300,000 other buildings were constructed every year during this time.
The construction worker trade is comprised of several other specialty trades. These construction worker specialists work in conjunction to complete the complex buildings and homes of the modern age. These specialists include carpenters, bricklayers, heavy equipment operators, electricians, plumbers, and others.
Construction Workers and Asbestos
No matter what the specialty, all construction work is physically demanding and, in many cases, very hazardous. The most obvious hazards are working around large machinery, working from heights, working with electrical tools, and working in a busy and rapidly changing environment. However, many other hazards exist for construction workers that are not so apparent. These hazards include exposure to loud noise, toxic chemicals, and other dangerous materials, such as asbestos.
Indeed, construction work is one of the most hazardous jobs in the world, and a full 17 percent of all construction-related injuries are due to toxic material exposure. One of the most dangerous of these materials is asbestos. It is estimated that up to 10,000 former and current construction workers will die every year over the next 10 years from asbestos-related medical conditions. The total number of construction workers exposed to asbestos is thought to be over 1 million per year.
Every building and structure constructed from the early 1920s to the late 1980s potentially harbors asbestos and asbestos-containing products in such areas as walls, floors, insulation, pipes, boiler rooms, and more. Asbestos was used not only as an insulating material, but as a component in many other building materials, including tile, welding rods, and adhesives.