Construction foreman – what are the main responsibilities?

millennials in construction
Project Management

Who is a construction foreman?

Every construction foreman will have earned their position after working their way up in the ranks and gaining experience.  In this position, they will need to oversee the work of every other construction employee and make sure that all the work is being completed on schedule and on budget.  At the same time, they must also ensure that the current standards are being met or even exceeded. 

This may sound simple, as if a construction foreman does nothing more than stand around watching people all day long.  However, that couldn’t be further from the truth, because they have a long list of other responsibilities as well!

Further reading: 10 helpful tips for construction managers

Here is a basic list of what a construction foreman is in charge of in their position:

  1. A construction foreman monitors the progress of all the construction work that is being completed within all departments.  This includes the work of the contractors, subcontractors, and the workers that those people bring with them.
  2. A construction foreman must prioritize the work that needs to be completed and delegate who will be doing what.  This ensures that everyone has something to do and the work on the project moves along according to schedule. 
  3. Construction foremen must spend their days assessing the performance of every worker and find ways to motivate the ones who need to work a little harder. 
  4. When the construction foreman is not busy with employees, they need to inspect all the tools, machines, and equipment that is utilized on the job to ensure that it is all in working order and doesn’t need repairing or replacing. 
  5. Safety is of the utmost importance on construction job sites and it is the construction foreman’s job to make sure that these standards are being met.  They may even try to find new ways to keep their workers safer and implement those measures for the current job and ones in the future. 
  6. When a deadline is approaching, the construction foreman is responsible for finding a solution that will ensure that the deadline is met.  This may include working extra hours, calling in more workers, or realigning the work, so that it is being performed more efficiently. 
  7. Construction foremen will also work closely with site engineers, construction contractors, and every supervisor.  This will ensure that they know what is going on for each job and if there are any problems that can be addressed before they occur. 
  8. There is a lot of inventory for every construction job and construction foremen are responsible for it all.  That means that they are in charge of ordering the materials that are needed, but only in the required amounts.  They also need to be aware of what items they need at what time, so that they do not have materials delivered that they are not ready for yet. 

In addition to all the above, they are usually responsible for hiring and training employees, creating work schedules, and preparing reports. 

A construction foreman does a lot of hard physical labor when they are on the job, but they also do a lot of administrative work.  While many construction foremen only have a high school diploma to go with their years of on-the-job experience, many of the newer ones are graduating with a degree in project management or building services.  Of course, these degrees cannot replace certain skills that every construction foreman needs.  A few of those necessary skills include:

  • Excellent communication in both written and verbal form
  • Strong leadership skills
  • The ability to lead by example
  • Strong math skills, as they may need to do calculations throughout the day
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Capable of meeting tight deadlines
  • The ability to budget carefully to ensure that projects are making a profit
  • Ability to train new employees and offer new training as needed
  • Capable of reading blueprints
  • Capable of solving any problem in a short amount of time
  • Excellent physical condition
  • Capable of using any type of equipment
  • Knowledge of OSHA guidelines and safety procedures

A construction foreman is busy from the time they arrive at work in the morning until they leave at the end of the day.  Of course, many of them take some of their work home with them too, because reports may still need to be filed and schedules may still need to be created long after the last worker goes home for the day. 

No construction foreman can say that they work a nine to five job, but they will tell anyone that they love what they do!  They love the fact that no day is the same, that they are creating something from scratch with their hands, and that they get to work with so many different people. 

It is the position that they worked hard for, for so many years, and they are finally living and working their dream job!

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