A concrete laborer or layer sets up the forms in which concrete is poured to create walkways, walls, pillars and other structures. Concrete laborers can have a workers compensation injury from a single traumatic lifting incident or fall at work, resulting in a herniated disc for example. Or they can incur degenerative disc disease over time in part from the heavy physical labor required by the job duties. Laborers lift and carry rebar or wire mesh to reinforce the concrete, often bending over to use trowels and other tools to spread and smooth concrete, and mold expansion joins and edges. Curing time varies by temperature, wind and other environmental factors, so laborers must monitor the material to ensure it hardens to a durable finish. Laborers may add color to the concrete, small stones for decoration, or apply waterproofing and other sealants often by hand in sweeping and twisting repetitive motions.

A concrete finisher is a skilled tradesman who works with concrete by placing, finishing, protecting and repairing concrete in engineering and construction projects. Concrete finishers are often responsible for setting the concrete forms, ensuring they have the correct depth and pitch. This is done by hand involving constant repetitive motions at the waist adding to stress on the low back or lumbar anatomy. Concrete finishers place the concrete either directly from the concrete wagon chute, concrete pump, concrete skip or wheelbarrow. They spread the concrete using shovels and rakes, sometimes using a straightedge back and forth across the top of the forms to “screed,” or level, the freshly placed concrete. After leveling the concrete, they smooth the surface using either a hand trowel], a long handed “bull float” or powered floats. After the concrete has been leveled and floated, concrete finishers press an edger between the forms and the concrete to chamfer the edges so that they are less likely to chip. Broom and stamp finishes are a couple of different finished products for outdoor concrete after the trowel-finish is complete. The broom finish is used to prevent slipping on the concrete, and the stamp finish is used for looks.

As with any construction job, concrete form laborers can suffer injuries caused by falls from scaffolding, cuts from tools, bumps from construction equipment or burns from chemical substances. They can minimize hazards by wearing protective clothing such as knee pads and practicing safety procedures. The work is physically strenuous. It involves frequent kneeling and bending, and the lifting of heavy materials over 100 lbs. Laborers thus require physical strength as well as stamina.

McCormick Law Office attorneys in Milwaukee, Wisconsin represents concrete laborers, including those represented by Laborers’ Local No. 113 located in my old neighborhood on Appleton Avenue.