What's it like to work on a skyscraper these days?
December 11, 2007 1:34 PM   Subscribe

What's it like to work on a skyscraper these days?

I'm looking for a good source (someone to talk to would be best) of experiential information on what it's like to be the counterparts of these guys in 2007. In particular, I'm looking for the experience of individuals doing welding.

I don't live in a major metropolitan area, so there aren't a lot of people in the area with experience in this line of work.

Basically the information I'm looking for:
-what kind of safety precautions do they take?
-what things are they constantly at risk of "screwing up"?
-what are the accommodations (what sort of arrangements are made for them to take breaks, walk around, etc)?
-What are some of the tools they use?
posted by nameless.k to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would call the local iron workers union in New York City or another large city. They will answer directly or have sources for the information.

Edward Malloy, President, UA
71 W. 23rd St., Suite #501
New York, NY 10010
Office: (212) 647-0700
Fax: (212) 647-0705
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:23 PM on December 11, 2007

what kind of safety precautions do they take?

Typically a meeting with a safety officer before they set foot on the structure just to make sure everyone is using good practices and has the proper safety equipment, i.e. harnesses. Then a safety meeting daily or once a week, depending on the job.

what things are they constantly at risk of "screwing up"?

Don't know what you mean. Falling?

what are the accommodations?

Typically different crews/trades will have their own spot to congregate for coffee breaks and lunch. Usually on a lower level that has a floor. As the steel is being erected at higher levels, the lower level floors are being installed and poured.

What are some of the tools they use?

Hammers, tig or mig welders, safety gear, gloves, seasonal clothes.

Hope this helps a bit.
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 4:00 PM on December 11, 2007

CBC Ideas' Building in the Sky. Not a very tall building, but answers some of your questions with very interesting details. Message me about it if you are interested.
posted by Chuckles at 4:06 PM on December 11, 2007

Topping Off the Comcast Center has all links to the Inquirer's coverage of the rising skyscraper and the iron workers that made it happen including their stunning photo set that was on the front page here a while back.
posted by The Straightener at 4:29 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's like this.
posted by The Deej at 6:15 PM on December 11, 2007

I was a first class welder in my former life. Pressure pipe was my bread and butter so I did mostly 6G pipe certifications. If you can do that you can do an all position plate certification (which you need to weld structural steel) with your eyes closed and one hand tied behind your back. So I did it every now and then.

I was crazy about high work up into my mid fifties... the higher and more dangerous the better.

My favorite was the power plant for UNC in Carborro because I got to weld the main steam pipe coming out of the boiler... a three day job running 24/7. I also got to close out the top of the structure because the structural welding specs were wrong for the average welder. The engineers mandated a 1/8 low hydrogen rod. I was the only one who could make that work, so they believed me when I told them they should go to 3/32.

But the best was when they let me have my way because of that and abandon safety precautions to get the job done even after a plumbers helper had fallen to his death. Rest in peace Stacy.

By the way, you can forget about TIG and MIG.
posted by Huplescat at 6:37 PM on December 11, 2007 [5 favorites]

What happens when you screw up.
posted by grouse at 1:24 PM on December 12, 2007

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