Last edited 07 Jan 2021


In construction, an ‘operative’ is a term usually used to describe a skilled or semi-skilled worker who has some function that includes either operating machinery (including computers) or having a role on a production line in a manufacturing facility.

Operatives may be involved in repetitive tasks or a series of repetitive tasks.

The operatives that may be encountered on a construction site might include:

  • Truck drivers.
  • Crane operators.
  • Fork-lift truck drivers.
  • Mechanical hoist operatives.
  • Lift operatives.
  • Mechanics.
  • Cement mixer operatives.
  • Barrier operatives.

However, in the UK, the term is not usually used to refer to manual labourers or skilled tradesmen such as bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers and electricians. It is never used to describe professionals such as architects, engineers, surveyors and so on.

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