“What do I need to work on a construction site?” This will completely vary depending on the trade. This post is not about the tools you’ll need. Honestly, that will 100% depend on what your trade is and what apprenticeship year you’re in. Talk to your boss about that.
What this post IS about, are the basics that every single construction worker has or should have!
9 Things you’ll need to answer “what do I need to work on a construction site?” question:
1. Steel Toes
I have seen some trades (drywallers and painters, I’m looking at you!) that don’t wear them, and I still can’t understand why they’re allowed or why they would choose not to wear them. You can buy them at Walmart, but honestly I strongly recommend spending a bit more and grabbing them from Marks Work Warehouse. They’re more durable and easier on your feet. You’ll be buying new ones every 6months – year.
- If you find breaking them in to be difficult, get some sole gel pads. You’ll be on your feet, more than likely on a concrete floor for hours. Your feet will hurt.
- If it’s winter I recommend getting a size up as you’ll be wearing thicker socks.
- Double your socks up.
- Scuff them up before you go to work. For some reason, guys make fun of anyone wearing clean boots. We buy them twice a year, so I’ll never understand why new boots are something you can get made fun of for.
- I don’t recommend low tops. Construction sites can be unsafe and cluttered, and I recommend having your ankles covered. If you’re going to be on a construction site I would also suggest not getting the steel toes that look like Blundstones. Typically those boots are for people that work in warehouses or managers.
- Make sure your boots are certified by the CSA (Canadian Standards Association). Most sites will not allow you on-site with boots that aren’t CSA approved.
2. Work Clothes
Winter work clothes are expensive! I’ll do a post on that another day. For the remainder of the year, I recommend going to a second-hand store and buying some jeans, sweaters, and t-shirts. They’re going to get ripped and dirty, so there’s no sense in buying new clothes.
- Wash your work clothes separately from your normal clothes. Construction debris is nasty!
- invest in a couple of pairs of heavier socks.
3. Safety Gear
Again, this is trade specific, and there’s a good chance your company will provide this.
The basics are:
- hard hat
- safety vest
- safety glasses
Hard hats should look like this. The other types aren’t for job sites. Make sure it’s not flimsy or it will not be allowed on sites. Also, stay away from white. White hard hats are reserved for owners/managers. Some sites use colours for specific trades. Your safest bet is dark blue.
4. Water Bottle
There is more than likely no running water on site. I highly recommend this water bottle as it holds a ton, is durable, and is easy to carry around.
5. Back Pack
You’ll need something to carry everything around with you. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Mine is a pink backpack my daughter had for school 4 years ago. Honestly, I would prefer any other colour, but it is what it is.
I have tons of travel packs of Kleenex in the house. Outhouses aren’t always stocked up. As a female, I learned very quickly to bring a pack with me at all times in case the outhouse has no toilet paper.
7. Hand Sanitizer
Again, we rarely have running water, so washing your hands is not an option. I sanitize my hands after using the disgusting outhouses and before I eat.
8. Lunch Bag
I know the stereotypical construction worker has Tim Hortons for a coffee break and fast food for lunch, but this isn’t always the case. Most of us eat a homemade lunch. It saves a ton of money in the long run, and you don’t have to deal with gut rot for the last part of your day.
- Make sure the lunch bag is insulated, so you can use ice packs and keep your lunch cold
- Fill your lunch up. There are some days you will be way hungrier than you anticipated. It’s easier to pack too much and then save for the next day than to pack too little and starve.
- For lunch idea tips, read about my lunch ideas that work for construction sites here.
9. Emergency kit
All of us keep a small kit in our bags.
It should include:
- My daughter and I add tampons and make-up wipes (if you have to use the eye wash station you’ll lose your make-up and look ridiculous for the rest of the day).
- Bandaids will always be in a first aid kit on site, but most times it’s just easier to grab one out of your bag than to walk to the kit.
Additional Information for Working on a Construction Site
- How to work in construction with no experience: There are two ways you can do this in Canada. 1. Apply directly, most of us are in a shortage and we’re looking to train. Even if it is asking for experience, apply. 2. Take a pre-apprentice course at your local community college.
- Construction Apprenticeship: In Canada, it’s a 4-year process. You work for a year and go to school for 6-8 weeks (collect EI). Rinse and Repeat for 4 years. In Canada, after you complete 1st, 2nd, and 4th year of schooling you can apply for a grant from the government for $1000 each year.
- How to get into construction as a woman: APPLY!!! We’re looking for you! There isn’t a company that isn’t biting at the bit to hire a female right now. It gives companies credit with the apprenticeship boards for having a female. You will get special privileges, and be given so many opportunities to help you succeed.
If you have any additional tips or must-haves for first-time construction workers, I’d love to hear them in the comment section!