Jobsite books break language barrier

The increasing number of Spanish-speaking employees in the construction industry is building a wall that blocks communication between project managers and laborers. Two new Spanish-English books aim to tear down that wall.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association produced the publications to help improve contractors’ interaction with Spanish-speaking employees.

“We think there is a vacuum, and this is helping fill a need in the industry,” said Matt Jeanneret, vice president of communications for ARTBA.

The first book is a pocket-sized Spanish-English dictionary featuring more than 1,400 words and terms used on construction jobsites. The second is a “Spanish-English Construction Communication” book containing thousands of words broken into lists of safety terms, related slang and common sentences related to different phases of construction.

Both books are available in the ARTBA online store for $13 and $28, respectively. Discounts for bulk orders are offered.

This is not the first time ARTBA has offered Spanish language books. Jeanneret said the books have been popular, and are selling well throughout the country.

Hispanic transportation construction workers make up a third of the total workforce, according to ARTBA statistics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 25 percent of construction workers in 2004 were of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.

“This is the reality of the workforce,” Jeanneret said. “These books are just another tool to make sure there is communication and make sure there is no communication barrier.”

Patrick Beeson can be contacted at