April 2013

Advanced Layout Training for Ironworkers

Ironworkers are involved in doing layout on every jobsite where we work. Layout can be as simple as measuring and marking vertical and horizontal distances using a tape measure or as complex as programming a total station to layout an entire construction project. We are seeing increased use of the total station on our jobsites. Many times the person operating the total station is not an ironworker. We would like to see more ironworkers doing advanced layout work, including the use of the total station.

The National Training Fund and IMPACT have received requests from a number of local unions and contractors to develop materials that can be used to prepare journeyman ironworkers to do advanced layout work. Mike Silvey, Local 433 (Los Angeles) business manager, is a strong proponent and comments, “We need more ironworkers with advanced layout skills running total stations on our jobsites.” Vic Cornellier, president of TSI/Exterior Wall Systems agrees saying, “Layout skills are essential in architectural and ornamental work and strengthening those skills makes the ironworker more effective.”

In March, a labor/management advisory group met at Local 377/378 in Benicia, California to begin work on these materials. The group recommended the following process to strengthen an ironworker’s layout skills.

The first step is to ensure the ironworker can competently use instruments such as a level and theodolite to perform both simple and more complex layout procedures. Locals can use the current Layout Instruments for Ironworkers training package available from the Apprenticeship and Training Department to conduct refresher courses for journeymen. I would recommend locals add more complicated layout exercises to this course in order to challenge the students.

The second step is to ensure the ironworker can apply more advanced math to layout work. For example, the ironworker should be able to use basic trigonometry to solve layout problems. Locals can use the current Mathematics for Ironworkers training package also available from the Apprenticeship and Training Department. In addition, the ironworker must also understand how to plot points using the Cartesian coordinate system. While this is not covered in our math manual, supplemental materials focusing on this are being developed.

The third step is to give ironworkers experience reading drawings and identifying points and lines required to layout simple and more complex jobs. The ironworker is learning to identify data that will be used to program the total station.

The fourth and final step is for the ironworker to learn to program and operate the total station. The advisory group recommends this portion of the training be conducted by a total station vendor or manufacturer.

The labor/management committee working on this initiative will be developing exercises and activities when combined with our current layout and math training packages, and coupled with training on programming and using a total station, will help us develop more ironworkers capable of doing advanced layout work. We will let you know when these materials will be ready for use by local unions.