A construction worker is a tradesman, labourer, or professional employed in the physical construction of the built environment and its infrastructure. Those involved in commercial, large scale, and government jobs typically wear protective hard hats, giving birth to the descriptive term "hard hat worker".
While most construction workers learn on the job, apprenticeships are common, particularly in developed countries with trade unions.
The division of labour of construction encompasses a diverse range of skilled and manual labour.
Among the most common construction trades are those of carpenter, electrician, heavy equipment operator, ironworker, laborer, mason, plasterer, plumber, pipefitter, sheet metal worker, steel fixer (also known as a "rodbuster"), and welder.
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In 2008, a Human Rights Watch report described unsafe and unfair working conditions and failure on the part of the Chinese government to enforce labor standards in the construction industry. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that, at the end of 2006, 90% of the 40 million construction workers in China were migrant workers. Many of the migrant workers turned to construction work after their farming communities collapsed into poverty.
In the United States, illegal immigrant labor is prevalent in the construction industry. Because of the questionable legal status of these workers, employers often have the ability to commit crimes such as wage theft and violation of workplace standards without fear of facing consequences.