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Home > Nature of the Construction Industry > Working Conditions
Working Conditions
Earnings

Working ConditionsMost employees in this industry work full time, and many work over 40 hours a week. In 2002, about 1 in 5 construction workers worked 45 hours or more a week. Construction workers may sometimes work evenings, weekends, and holidays to finish a job or take care of an emergency. Workers in this industry need physical stamina because the work frequently requires prolonged standing, bending, stooping, and working in cramped quarters. They also may be required to lift and carry heavy objects.

Exposure to weather is common because much of the work is done outside or in partially enclosed structures. Construction workers often work with potentially dangerous tools and equipment amidst a clutter of building materials; some work on temporary scaffolding or at great heights and in bad weather. Consequently, they are more prone to injuries than are workers in other jobs.

Construction work is dangerous. And while safety on job sites has come a long way, many people still die on construction sites every day. Safety is one of the most dynamic areas of the construction business. In 2002, cases of work-related injury and illness were 7.1 per 100 full-time construction workers, which is significantly higher than the 5.3 rates for the entire private sector. Workers who do roofing, siding, and sheet metal work experienced the highest injury rates. In response, employers increasingly emphasize safe working conditions and work habits that reduce the risk of injuries. To avoid injury, employees wear safety clothing, such as gloves and hardhats, and sometimes devices to protect their eyes, mouth, or hearing.

Many South Asians are employed in the construction industry, as day laborers and an injury can be double jeopardy for the worker, because without work, he doesnt get paid. A day laborer is hired by the day, and a rainy day means a days wage is lost. Sometimes the contractors had insurance and would pay the medical bills, but occasionally some would not:

WorkerWorkers complain saying that the contractors pay workers from the money they get from developers, and some when they get paid, use the money to buy their own houses and cars and they dont pay their laborers. Probably this is one among the many unresolved complaints of almost the entire worker class from janitors to street vendors, gas station attendants, domestic workers and restaurant staff. Low wages and long hours are endemic.

The conditions are very bad because many of the workers dont have documentation, frequently they dont speak English (many a times not even the national language) and they are not necessarily aware of their rights as workers either. Immigrant communities are always at risk for discrimination. New immigrants are often concentrated in low wage industries. It is always a problem in terms of the power that they have to challenge unfair decisions made by their employers. Their access to justice and remedies when they are treated unfairly has always been a difficult issue.

However, this exploitation of undocumented and low wage-workers is by no means limited to the South Asians. It is equally widespread among Mexican, Dominican, Hispanic and other immigrant communities, which have even a higher proportion of blue-collar workers. It is part of a larger pattern and South Asian community activists are striving to join forces with other workers, crossing the cultural and racial divide.

To understand any working condition better we must know about the earnings of the concerned sector. So on concluding we will just do the same. 

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