Starting a new job at a construction site can be as stressful as it is exciting. There will be a lot to learn, and you’ll likely be expected to do so quickly. However, nothing prepares you for a career in the construction industry more than the real-world experiences you’ll gain on a job site or under a mentor's guidance.

Unfortunately, some skilled workers or beginners getting ready for their first day do so without knowing what to expect. Here are essential tips you should know to make your first day a success.

Site-Specific Orientation

On the first day at a construction site, expect to have a detailed orientation conducted by the company management, on-site supervisors, lead contractor, or foreman. You'll be given information about potential hazards, procedures, and policies, as well as site-specific details. This is the first step to ensure everyone on the team works safely to complete a common objective.

The goal is to ensure that all workers on a construction site are well aware and prepared to carry out various tasks, including:

  • Reporting any new or unknown safety hazards that you may encounter on-site
  • Working safely with identified hazards
  • Responding to emergencies
  • Reporting safety incidents
  • Accessing the site and the protocols related to that
  • Implementing security produces to prevent equipment theft
  • Following the contractor requirements on the construction site

Never Compromise Safety

While orientation will teach you about what is expected at a construction site, your initial tasks will require a full understanding of and respect for the risks involved. Be aware of the site-specific hazards - someone should walk you around and show you before you start working. Never compromise safety.

Become aware of everything that's going on at any given time, especially if it is a big project. Follow OSHA safety and health PPE guidelines, and utilize the proper protective equipment, which may include construction gloves, a helmet, a reflective vest, and boots. Additionally, leave your phone in your car - one text message or a distraction could cost you a limb or even your life.

Be Well Prepared

Come prepared for your first day on a construction site. Do some extensive research on what is expected so that the site foreman doesn't need to run through too many basics with you. Before the site-specific orientation, you should have already gone through a company-specific orientation to give you an overview of the construction project, procedures, safety protocols, and tasks assigned.

If you are unsure about anything, never be afraid to ask. Carry the documents needed to access the construction site, the tools required for the job, and the must-have safety wear, like a high-visibility jacket or vest and a hard hat. As mentioned above, safety is a priority, so you should dress appropriately, depending on your role, and bring all essentials for the job. 

Watch and Listen

On your first day at a job site, observe everything, and listen to what you're told. There's a lot to learn when it comes to how to use all the tools properly, do tasks correctly, create hazard assessments, clean up after yourself, and more. Most importantly, pay attention every time, and ask as many questions as you can.

On your first day at a job site, observe everything, and listen to what you're told ... pay attention every time, and ask as many questions as you can.

In most cases, people at a construction site are glad to help you out if you're determined to work hard and be better at your job. Learn from experienced workers. Most contractors and supervisors have a specific way that they like things done, so it's better to follow their lead and ask when you're not sure to avoid trouble.

Bring Your Food and Water

Construction is a physical job - whether you’re working on a new build, a renovation, or a remodeling project. So, you'll need lots of calories and plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day. Sometimes food and water are provided, but until you know, bring your own. Cold lunch is a good start considering some sites don't have the luxuries of heating food with a microwave or local spots to buy warm meals.

Don't Underestimate Construction Work

Construction work may be more challenging than any other hands-on job you've done before, so don't underestimate it. Don't overstate your experience or skills, and be honest about your abilities. If you stay humble, work hard, take your time to learn, and follow the pros' lead, you can handle the pressure and find the work very rewarding.

No matter your role on the site, you should always arrive early (at least 15 minutes earlier) to make sure all aspects of the project you're working on are in order so you can start working immediately. Try to take any light-hearted hazing or pranking in stride as you become a valuable member of the team - and if you get a nickname, embrace it.