Dirty construction workers : who you looking at buddy?

Murray, Michael and Langford, David and Fisher, Stephen; (2002) Dirty construction workers : who you looking at buddy? In: Proceedings of CIB W65 The Management of the Construction Process. CIB, USA, pp. 1309-1320.

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The public perception of the United Kingdom building (construction) industry and of the workers who are employed in it is often associated with negative stereotypical attitudes. Workers (and thus the industry) are characterised by images of dirt, unsafe working practices, macho and sexist behaviour and unsatisfactory workmanship standards. Such perceptions are known to have damaged the image of the construction industry and may have led to large sections of the construction workforce being stigmatised. This in turn is known to have persuaded many youngsters that a career in the construction trades (joiner, bricklayer, plumber etc) is not for them. However, very little empirical knowledge (other than a few notable studies conducted in the USA by the likes of Silver 1982, Riemer 1979, Applebaum 1981) can be found regarding the perceptions which the craft workforce have of their occupation role in society. This paper examines the perceptions which craftworkers have of their occupational role. This work is discussed within the context of a current UK Government department (Department of Environment Transport & regions) initiative known as ‘Respect for People.’ This initiative seeks to encourage the construction industry to improve the health, safety and welfare facilities on projects and thus mitigate some of the ‘dirtiness ’attached to construction work life.