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Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers

Reinforcing iron and rebar workers install wire mesh, steel bars (rebar), or cables to reinforce concrete. Show Details


Reinforcing iron and rebar workers typically do the following:

  • Use blueprints, sketches, or other instructions for installation
  • Determine quantities, sizes, shapes, and locations of reinforcing rods
  • Cut mesh and rebar with metal shears, hacksaws, or acetylene torches
  • Bend rebar or weld it together to match design specifications
  • Position and secure steel bars, rods, cables, or mesh in concrete forms
  • Install cables (post-tensioning systems)
  • Place blocks under rebar to hold the bars off the deck when reinforcing floors
  • Fasten rods together by tying wire around them with pliers
  • Bend or place caps on exposed rebar to make it less hazardous

Concrete is often used in construction. To reinforce the concrete, reinforcing iron and rebar workers use one of three different materials:

  • Rebar is used to reinforce concrete that forms highways, buildings, bridges, and other structures. These workers are often called rodbusters because they work with rods of rebar.
  • Cable is used to reinforce concrete by a technique called post-tensioning. Post-tensioning allows designers to create larger open areas in a building because supports can be placed further apart. As a result, post-tensioning is commonly used for parking garages and arenas.
  • Welded wire fabric is also used to reinforce concrete. Workers put the wire fabric into position using hooked rods.
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Structural Iron and Steel Workers

Structural iron and steel workers install iron or steel beams, girders, and columns to form buildings, bridges, and other structures. They are often referred to as ironworkers. Show Details


Ironworkers typically do the following:

  • Unload and stack prefabricated steel so that it can be lifted easily with slings
  • Use a crane to lift steel beams, girders, and columns into place
  • Stand on beams or girders to help position steel pieces that are being lifted
  • Signal crane operators for positioning of the structural steel
  • Align beams and girders into position
  • Verify vertical and horizontal alignment of the structural steel
  • Connect columns, beams, and girders with bolts or by welding them into place
  • Use metal shears, torches, and welding equipment to cut, bend, and weld the steel

Iron and steel are important parts of buildings, bridges, and other structures. Even though the primary metal involved in this work is steel, these workers often are known as ironworkers or erectors.

When building tall structures such as a skyscraper, ironworkers erect steel frames and assemble the cranes and derricks that move structural steel, reinforcing bars, buckets of concrete, lumber, and other materials and equipment around the construction site. Once this job has been completed, workers begin to connect steel columns, beams, and girders according to blueprints and instructions from construction supervisors.

As they work, they use a variety of tools. They use rope (called a tag line) to guide the steel while it is being lifted; they use spud wrenches (long wrenches with a pointed handle) to put the steel in place; and they use driftpins or the handle of the spud wrench to line up the holes in the steel with the holes in the framework. To check the alignment, they may use plumb bobs, laser equipment, or levels.

Structural steel generally comes to the construction site ready to be put upócut to the proper size, with holes drilled for bolts and numbered for assembly.

Some ironworkers make structural metal in fabricating shops, which are usually located away from the construction site. For more information, see the profile on assemblers and fabricators.

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