What is a laborer

What means the term “Laborer”?

Construction Craft Laborers (CCL) are the most diverse craft in the industry. The term “Laborers” belies the complex and critical functions they perform on commercial construction sites. Unlike ironworkers, electricians, plumbers, heavy equipment operators, masons, carpenters and other skilled crafts, there is no word in the English language to describe the breadth and diversity of tasks skilled Laborers perform. They are a skilled craft in their own right and they are simply called “Laborers.”

The following are examples of what laborers typically do on different job sites

Structures Heavy Civil/Highway Environmental Specialty


On a construction site, laborers do all these things and more:

  • Clean and prep construction sites.
  • Eliminate possible hazards.
  • Mix and place concrete.
  • Set braces to support the sides of excavations.
  • On building construction projects, identify and distribute building materials to the appropriate location.
  • Tend equipment that pumps and places concrete, grout, cement, sand, plaster or stucco through a spray gun.
  • Saw or core concrete.
  • Use air-actuated tools.
  • Operate high-tech equipment like lasers and transits.
  • Demolish and remove structures and buildings.
  • Assist other craft workers, including carpenters, plasterers, operating engineers and masons.

Heavy Civil/Highway

On heavy civil projects and highway construction sites, construction laborers do the following and more:

  • Clean and prep construction sites.
  • Clear and prepare highway work zones and rights of way.
  • Install traffic barricades, cones and markers.
  • Control traffic passing near, in and around work zones.
  • Install sewer, water and storm drainpipes.
  • Check road grade.
  • Place asphalt on roadways.
  • Place concrete on roads, bridges, dams and in all civil structures.
  • Break and remove old structures.
  • Operate a variety of equipment including jackhammers, pavement breakers,
  • Concrete mixers, earth compactors, boring machines, mechanical hoists, lasers, surveying equipment and measuring equipment.


At a hazardous waste removal site, the following tasks performed by construction laborers require a high level of training and experience:

  • Prepare the site and safely remove asbestos, lead, radioactive waste and other hazardous materials.
  • Operate, read and maintain air monitoring and other sampling devices in hazardous environments.
  • Sample, identify, handle, pack and transport hazardous and/or radioactive materials.
  • Clean and decontaminate equipment, buildings and enclosed structures.


The work of a construction laborer is becoming increasingly technical. Tasks range from skilled to highly skilled. It requires workers not only have knowledge of all common construction work activities, but specialties as well. Some of the highly specialized tasks laborers perform include the following:

  • Operating laser guidance equipment to place pipes.
  • Control air, electric, and pneumatic drills.

Tunnel projects are becoming more prevalent each year. This work includes the following:

  • Tunnel safety.
  • Rail and shoring.
  • Utilities installation.
  • Locomotive operation.

Most construction laborers are generalists who perform many different tasks during all stages of construction. However, many laborers tend to specialize in a type of construction, for example demolition or underground construction like tunnels.

Tunnel projects are becoming more prevalent each year. This work includes the following:

  • Tunnel safety.
  • Rail and shoring.
  • Utilities installation.
  • Locomotive operation.

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