There is nothing like a nearby construction site waking you up at 8 A.M. the morning after your night shift. Loaders, trucks, and excavators seem to wake up more people than smartphones. But why do construction workers start so early?
Construction workers start early to avoid the afternoon heat, finish the job sooner, and maximize good weather and daylight. Construction workers can’t work when it’s raining or when it’s exceedingly cold. It’s a seasonal job, which is why construction takes place throughout spring and summer.
In the rest of this article, I’ll go further into detail as to why construction workers start early in the morning. I’ll also look at how local laws can affect construction.
Reasons Why Construction Workers Start So Early
Being a construction worker isn’t easy. They have to get up early for breakfast and often leave at dawn to get to the construction site on time.
Let’s go over a few reasons why they start work so early in the morning.
Construction Workers Want To Avoid the Afternoon Heat
Construction usually takes place on sunny summer days, and working under the blazing afternoon sun is all but impossible. So, it should come as no surprise that construction workers want to start work as early as possible.
Unlike the afternoon, refreshing summer mornings are perfect for any kind of outdoor work.
Since heavy machinery used in construction can get scorching hot on its own, the workers are always blasted by heat. Combining the heavy machinery with the afternoon summer sun makes it impossible to work without a heat stroke.
Construction workers must begin early. That way, they can finish enough work to go home before 3 P.M., which is the hottest time of the day.
Some construction workers will continue working inside. However, there’s no way to stay cool in there either, so it’s far from ideal.
Construction Workers Are Sometimes Paid by the Project
Most construction workers in the U.S. are paid by the hour. Contractors usually get paid a lump sum upfront, so they can choose how to pay their workers.
Some of them choose to pay their workers only after a project is complete. They usually agree on the price before any construction even starts.
This way, workers will know what to expect.
This kind of payment may motivate the workers to be more productive and work harder. By working in the morning, they’ll finish sooner in the day, which means they can move on to the next project.
Construction work is seasonal, and workers want to earn as much cash as possible for winter when there isn’t much work available. Maximizing the time available to them is the best way to do this.
Contractors Want To Maximize Daylight Work Hours
Due to visibility issues, it’s nearly impossible to do any form of construction in the evening or at night. With construction work, there are no traditional second or third shifts. If there is a second shift, it’s in the afternoon.
This means that construction workers want to start as soon as the sun is up.
If the construction is happening in wintertime, the crew often arrives while it’s still dark outside. That gives them enough time to prepare and check all tools and materials, so they’re ready as soon as there’s enough light.
A lot of construction takes place from sunrise to sunset. This especially applies to short winter days when the number of daylight hours amounts to about 8 hours.
Construction Workers Want To Use Good Weather
Concrete is tricky to work with. If it rains, the concrete absorbs too much water and becomes weak. On the other hand, if it’s too cold, the water in the concrete freezes and cracks, and if it’s too hot, the concrete dries too quickly and cracks.
The optimal temperature for mixing and pouring concrete is between 40°F – 60°F (4.4°C – 15.5°C).
So, workers must pour concrete early in the morning. Otherwise, they’ll compromise the building’s structural integrity.
When there’s rain or snow, the work that construction workers can do is severely limited.
So, workers want to make the most out of good weather. That’s why they have long work hours in the summer, and especially in the morning, when the weather isn’t too hot for working with concrete.
Outdoor Work Can’t Take Place When in Rainy Weather
This ties into the previous point. Pouring concrete in rain or snow is not an option. And pretty much any other outdoor tasks can’t take place either.
Besides, it’d be illegal to require construction workers to work in the rain. It’s very dangerous and dirty to operate heavy machinery in the rain because one can slip and fall very easily.
Thus, most construction is moved indoors or halts when it rains.
That’s why you see most construction projects begin in spring and early summer. Rain is less frequent, and rainfall evaporates more quickly.
Commuting and Parking Is Easier Early in the Morning
Construction workers start to work as early as the local by-laws will let them.
If the allowable construction hours begin at 7 A.M, workers often have to get up at or even before 5 A.M. This is because they have breakfast and head to the construction site. If it’s in a downtown area, finding a free and available parking spot is a challenge. So, the early bird catches the worm.
Additionally, there’s less traffic early in the morning. That makes it easier for the workers to arrive on time, prepare and inspect their tools, and start work.
Construction Work Is Seasonal
Construction is a seasonal job. It’s usually done in spring, all throughout summer, and early fall. The only construction that takes place in winter is when there’s a strict deadline that needs to be met.
This seasonality is a major problem for the workers.
That’s why they work as much as the contractors will let them in summer. They have to make up for the months when they don’t work at all.
Construction Time Is Regulated by Local Law
There’s a reason why you never hear construction workers operating heavy machinery at 4 A.M. on the weekend. This is because most states, counties, or municipalities have their own laws regarding noise caused by construction.
There isn’t a single accepted construction time worldwide, but it’s usually limited to somewhere between 8 A.M. to 6 P.M.
For example, the Los Angeles Police Department lists the following allowable construction hours:
- 7:00 A.M. – 9:00 A.M. Monday to Friday
- 8:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M. Saturday or national holidays
- No construction except for residents on Sundays
Other the other, in Greenwich, a London borough, the construction hours are slightly different:
- 8:00 A.M. – 6 P.M. Monday to Friday
- 8:00 A.M. – 1 P.M. Saturday
- No construction on Sundays and holidays
Vancouver also has interesting construction hours. They’re a little more complicated than the ones mentioned above, and they’re different depending on whether you’re a resident or a street construction worker.
That said, the point is that the construction hours in your area solely depend on your laws.
If construction workers keep waking you up too early in the morning Sundays, chances are, they’re breaking the local law. At the same time, these laws are part of the reason why construction takes place in the morning – in some places, such as in Los Angeles during the week, construction is simply not permitted later in the day.
If you’re worried about when construction is happening in your area, double-check the by-laws and call the EPA if they’re breaking regulations and you want them to stop.
Construction workers have to start early to finish the project faster. They have to make the most of the good weather throughout the summer because they can’t work when it rains or snows.
Additionally, permissible construction hours are always regulated by some form of law. It’s set in place to protect the residents from loud noise caused by heavy machinery. Construction workers need to squeeze all the work they can into these construction hours to finish sooner.
- The Old Farmer’s Almanac: What is the hottest time of day? 3 P.M., or noon?
- Unique Paving Materials: What Temperature Should You Pour Concrete?
- Balance Design & Construction: What Happens To My New Home Build When It Rains?
- JSTOR: Monthly Labor Review: Seasonality in construction: a continuing problem
- Los Angeles Police Department: Noise Enforcement Team
- Royal Borough of Greenwich: Noise from building works
- City of Vancouver: Noise from construction
- City of Vancouver: Noise Control By-law 6555
- ZipRecruiter: How Are Construction Workers Paid