The job of iron and metal workers is to install and place steel or iron columns, girders, and other construction materials to form bridges, buildings, and other structures. Metal and iron workers also secure and position steel mesh and bars in concrete forms to enhance quality of concrete used in buildings, tunnels, highways, bridges, and other structures.
Additionally, they renovate and repair other buildings and structures. The primary metal included in this work is steel; therefore, these workers sometimes are called erectors or ironworkers. Some ironworkers make structural metal in fabricating shops that are normally situated away from the construction site.
Nature of Work
Ironworkers have to erect steel frames before the construction work starts. They need to assemble the derricks and cranes, which move structural steel, buckets of concrete, reinforcing bars, lumber and other equipments and materials around the construction site. After completing this job, ironworkers have to join beams, steel columns, and girders based upon blueprints and instructions from superintendents and supervisors.
Generally, ornamental iron, reinforcing roads, and structural steel come to the construction site for erection. Ironworkers have to make holes, cut to the appropriate size and bolt them together for assembly. At the construction site, ironworkers have to stack and upload the prefabricated steel in order that it can be hoisted easily when required. Iron workers attach cables to the steel and to the derrick or crane to hoist the steel. One iron worker directs the hoist operator using hand signals whereas another worker holds a rope that is attached to the steel as to prevent it from swinging.
Iron workers use drift pins or the handle of a spud wrench to align the holes in the steel with the holes in the framework. The job of ironworkers is to check horizontal and vertical alignment with laser equipment, plumb bobs, levels, and transits. Subsequently, they weld or bolt the piece permanently in place.
Rebar and reinforcing iron workers, sometimes, are called rod busters. Their work is to set reinforcing bars in the forms, which hold concrete following blueprints indicating size, location, and number of bars. Consequently, they fasten the bars together by binding wire around them with pliers.
When enhancing floors, ironworkers have to place spacers under the rebar to seize the bars off the deck. Occasionally, ironworkers have to cut bars using acetylene torches or metal shears, weld them with arc-welding equipments, and bend them by machine or hand. Some concrete is toughened with welded wire fabric that ironworkers place into position with hooked rods.
Post-tensioning is one of the techniques used to reinforce concrete. Ironworkers replace cables with rebar. Ironworkers fasten the cables with jacking equipment, especially, designed for the purpose. Post-tensioning facilitates designers to create larger open areas in a building. This technique is normally used in arenas and parking garages.
Ornamental ironworkers install handrails, stairs, curtain walls (window frames and the non-structural walls of several large buildings) and other metals used in the construction. Ornamental ironworkers ensure that the pieces are properly connected and aligned before welding or bolting them for the secure fit. Iron and metal workers have to carry out following responsibilities.
Generally, iron and metal workers work outside in all types of weather. Nonetheless, those who work at enormous heights are advised not to work during icy, wet, or falls weather. They should use safety devices such as scaffolding, harnesses, and nets to reduce risk.
Some workers learn through formal apprenticeship while others learn on the job. Employers prefer candidates who have completed a certification in rigging and welding. The apprenticeship program is sponsored by committees made up of delegates of local unions of the International Association of Structural, Bridges, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers.