World ranking published of best – and worst – countries to be a construction worker

Construction News Myanmar
Construction under way near Waterloo Station in London. The UK has the best combination of wages, prices and safety after Switzerland (Marina Endermar/Dreamstime)

World ranking published of best – and worst – countries to be a construction worker

The most dangerous places to be a construction worker are Myanmar and Uganda

Clothing maker Workwear Guru has compiled a ranking of the best and worst countries in the world to be a construction worker, based on wages, cost of living and health and safety.

They say Switzerland has the best combination of these factors, based largely on its average salary of $80,000, the highest in the world. It is followed by the UK, where wages have been buoyed by a post-Brexit shortage of skilled labourers. Average salaries there have hit $58,000, according to the ranking, and it has an 8% accident rate, one of the lowest in the world.

The company calculated safety scores from polls conducted by Lloyd’s Register Foundation and average wages using Numbeo’s and worldpopulation’s Cost of Living index.

Belgium is in third place, followed by the massive markets of the US in fourth position and Canada in fifth, despite accident rates of 20% and 22% respectively. The American construction sector is expected to grow 3.1% in 2022 and trade bodies have predicted that 430,000 jobs will have to be created to meet demand.

The report also looked at which US states are best for workers. This turned out to be Illinois, based on the present Chicago building boom, followed by Georgia and Michigan.

After the micro-states of Luxembourg and Singapore, China is in eighth position – somewhat surprisingly given its low per capita GDP compared with the other countries in the top 10. However construction workers can expect to make $32,000, the cost of living is a little more than half of the US and the accident rate is 9%. Added to that, China’s domestic economy is expected to generate $2.1 trillion in building projects by 2030, ensuring there will be no shortage of employment.

On the other end of the table, the lowest average wage for a construction worker – $875 a month – is paid in Uzbekistan, making that country the least desirable place in the world to work, with the exception of Yemen.

The most dangerous places to be a construction worker are Myanmar and Uganda. A recent report carried out by Uganda’s National Building Review Board found that only 6% of sites examined were being supervised by professionally qualified staff (see further reading). Myanmar has the highest incident rate of 58%, more than 14 times higher than Poland, which has a rate of 4%.

The lowest cost of living is to be found in Pakistan and India.

More generally, the conditions of construction workers are set to improve across the world as capital investments that were put on hold during the Covid-19 lockdowns are returned to the drawing board and the demand for workers increases.

The full league table can be viewed here.