Steel erectors work in the construction and engineering sectors, installing and fixing the prefabricated steel girders, pipework and sections, which make up the framework of a building or structure. They work on a wide variety of projects, large and small, ranging from single- and multi-storey office, housing and factory developments to sports stadia and bridges, and gantries, transport crash barriers and fire escapes.
Steel erectors follow plans drawn up by design engineers. As the structure goes up, steel erectors work from mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs - cherry pickers or scissor lifts) to gain safe access to higher sections. Components are lifted into position with tower cranes prior to assembly. Steel erectors then align and level steelwork before securing it by bolting or welding techniques. Beyond the reach of elevated platforms, erectors work from the actual structure itself, laying metal decking, and fixing safety netting and edge rails as they go.
Steel erectors use hand and power tools to secure the steelwork and are often responsible for the operation of MEWPs used to access work areas. They normally work in a small team, which includes a crane driver. Health and safety is paramount, so strict adherence to safe working practices is essential.
As well as putting up structures, steel erectors are employed to dismantle steel frameworks during building demolition. Some steel erectors may also be involved in fabrication and fixing work on site.
Steel erectors normally work 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Overtime at weekends may be necessary to meet deadlines.
Most of the work is outdoors at heights and is physically demanding. Personal protective equipment is used. Travel from site to site is necessary, so a driving licence is usually required.
To be a steel erector, you should:
Employment opportunities follow trends in the construction industry and are currently good. Most steel erectors work on a sub-contract basis for steel erection firms. Operatives with additional licences for operating plant equipment will enhance their options.
With experience, progression to supervisory positions is possible.
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