Construction activities are generally administered or managed from a relatively fixed place of business, but the actual construction work is performed at one or more different sites. If a company has more than one relatively fixed place of business from which it undertakes or manages construction activities and for which separate data on the number of employees, payroll, receipts, and other establishment-type records are maintained, each such place of business is considered a separate construction establishment. Nearly 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the nation on any given day.

Three broad types of construction activity are covered: (1) building construction by general contractors or by operative builders; (2) heavy construction other than building by general contractors and special trade contractors; and (3) construction activity by other special trade contractors. Special trade contractors are primarily engaged in specialized construction activities, such as plumbing, painting, and electrical work, and work for general contractors under subcontract or directly for property owners. General contractors usually assume responsibility for an entire construction project, but may subcontract to others all of the actual construction work or those portions of the project that require special skills or equipment. General contractors thus may or may not have construction workers on their payroll.

Building construction by general contractors are mainly engaged in the construction of dwellings, office buildings, stores, farm buildings, and other building construction projects. Operative builders who build on their own account for resale are also included in this section. However, investment builders who build structures on their own account for rental are classified in Real Estate, Major Group 65, but separate establishments primarily engaged in construction for the investment builder are classified in this section.

General contractors and special trade contractors for heavy construction other than building are primarily engaged in the construction of highways; pipelines, communications and power lines, and sewer and water mains; and other heavy construction projects. Special trade contractors are classified in heavy construction if they are primarily engaged in activities such as grading for highway and airport runways; guardrail construction; installation of highway signs; asphalt and concrete construction of roads, highways, streets, public sidewalks; trenching; cable laying; conduit construction; underwater rock removal; pipeline wrapping; or land clearing and leveling.

Special trade contractors undertake activities of a type that are either specialized to building construction or may be undertaken for building or nonbuilding projects. These activities include painting (including bridge painting and traffic lane painting) and electrical work (including work on bridges, power lines and power plants).

Establishments primarily engaged in managing construction projects for others on a contract or fee basis, but assuming no responsibility for completion of the construction project, are classified in Services, Industry 8741. Establishments primarily engaged in renting construction equipment, with or without an operator, are classified in Services, Industry Group 735.

Force account construction is construction work performed by an establishment primarily engaged in some business other than construction, for its own account and use, and by employees of the establishment. This activity is not included in this section, but is classified according to the primary

activity which is or will be performed in the establishment. However, construction work performed as the primary activity of a separate establishment of an enterprise for the enterprise's own account is included in this section.

Installation of prefabricated building equipment and materials by general and special trade contractors is classified in this section. Similar installation work performed as a service incidental to sale by employees of an establishment manufacturing or selling prefabricated equipment and materials is classified according to the primary activity in the Manufacturing or Trade Divisions.

Establishments primarily engaged in the distribution and construction or installation of equipment often present classification problems. Since value added is not available for distinguishing the relative importance of sales versus installation or construction activities, payroll or employment may be used as measures yielding approximately the same results.

The following table represents only the potential occupational health concerns related to the entire construction industry based on type of construction, job task or work activity, and any related OSHA standards for regulatory compliance. The information presented herein does not indicate or suggest a relative risk of exposure based on the location within the table nor provide any exposure information. Health risks associated with fatigue, working long hours, stress living away from home, and other psychosocial disorders are not addressed. The focus of this information is to provide guidance to understand the occupational health hazards from chemical substances, physical and biological agents, radiological, ergonomic, and environmental hazards from exposure to plants and animals. The potential occupational health exposures in this industry were contrived from the OSHA Integrated Management Information System database between 1984 to 2020. OSHA reported that out of 64 construction companies surveyed (2014-2018) 79% of the air samples collected were above the OSHA PEL of 50 µg/m3 or air for an 8-hour time-weighted average.. Besides, inorganic lead, asbestos airborne contamination and occupational noise were most frequently cited by OSHA on construction sites.

NOTES: Welding fumes contain a variety of hazardous chemical substances depending on the base metal and the type of welding being done. Similarly, solvent vapors also vary depending on the product and manufacturer. Therefore, it is important to read product labels and Safety Data Sheets for more information. Under the OSHA Hazard Communication and Global Harmonization Standard, Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs) can obtain trade secret or classified information in any case whereby workers may be exposed to a hazardous chemical substance and/or their occupational health may be in jeopardy. In order to obtain such classified trade secret information, CIHs may agree to a confidentiality agreement with the manufacturer, distributer or supplier.

Equipment operators may use pile drivers, backhoes, bull dozers, excavators, graders/scrapers, earth movers, front end loaders, dump trucks articulated aerial trucks, fork trucks and manlifts along with electric and pneumatic powered equipment like jack hammers, nail guns, power drills, routers, and welding equipment. General laborers perform most of the work activities onsite. Supervisors and other specialty trades provide the overall guidance to develop the site, build or remediate a structure. Occupational health exposures vary based on the duration and frequency of the work task. Finally, ergonomic hazards will vary depending on the equipment or tool being used, weight of materials, posture and repetitiveness of the work tasks.

These photos were provided by the Construction Safety Council, Hillside, Illinois. They represent some occupational health hazards associated with work activities in the construction industry. Work in construction varies by project and duration and frequency of exposures to the air contaminants.

Worker Exposure Profiles in Construction

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