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There are a number of different types of foremen, including construction foremen, shop foremen, mechanical foreman, and trades foreman. However the basic job duties and responsibilities of a foreman remain relatively stable across the different industries that employ foremen.
Type of Work
A foreman is responsible for overseeing a crew or group of workers charged with completing a task. For example, a construction foreman will oversee the overall construction of a specific project. Foremen are often workers who have had years of experience in the industry and have moved on to managerial positions. A mechanics foreman will supervise, manage and coordinate the activities of mechanics, including machinery maintenance and mechanics.
A foreman is responsible for many different types of duties, depending on how they relate the the successful completion of the project on hand. These responsibilities often include leadership roles, detailed scheduling and coordination, safety precautions, productivity enhancement, employee relations, and certain administrative tasks. A foreman also often works with the contractor and client in making sure all elements of the project progress accordingly. This often involves budgeting and quality control issues.
A foreman is responsible for having a wealth of important knowledge at hand in order to effectively and quickly deal with situations that regularly occur. This knowledge includes knowing company and project safety programs; health, safety, and environmental issues; employee insurance and working standards; and technical abilities relating to the trade, such as how to read blueprints.
Other general skills a foreman is expected to possess in most cases include good communication skills, both oral and written, ability to coach and team members of the staff, quick problem solving and conflict resolution abilities, and understanding of how to delegate work effectively. In many ways the job of a foreman is that of a project manager, and managing a project involves a lot of hands-on skills and experience as well as administrative know-how and bureaucratic negotiations. A foreman should also be fluent with a computer, and have experience using relevant computer programs.
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Ariel Phillips is an editor and writer living in Portland, Ore. He has written for "n+1 Journal" and "The Rumpus Magazine," among others. He maintains an interest in a variety of subjects, including art, culture, the environment, media, the sciences and sports. He earned bachelor's degrees in art and philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara.