August 2015

Structural Mock-up Provides Opportunities for Upgrading Training Centers

Last fall, Executive Director Steve Rank and I discussed the need for an engineered structural steel mock-up that training centers may purchase to enhance their facilities and programs. We are pleased the IMPACT labor and management trustees approved funding for a two-story structural mock-up that will be used for a variety of training. In addition to classroom instruction, apprentices will experience hands-on techniques for hoisting, rigging, structural steel assembly, and the use of various types of fall arrest systems.

On the left is a 3-D model of the professionally engineered structure designed and fabricated by the Herrick Corporation, a union fabricator and steel erector headquartered in California. This structural mock-up is designed with over-sized base plates with 12 anchor rods to ensure structural stability during repeated assembly and disassembly by apprentices. The structure is centered on a 24-foot by 24-foot bay that includes four columns, eight perimeter beams, four interior field beams, four chevron braces and two diagonal braces. Two of the columns are designed with column splices to replicate the erection of multi-tiered buildings. Additionally, the second floor framing plan incorporates cantilevered members to teach safe erection practices and methods to maintain stability at all times. The cantilevered structure is stabilized by a set of turnbuckles at a 45-degree angle from the beam to the column. The turnbuckles are shackled to shop fabricated lugs welded to the top beam flanges and columns for proper anchorage.

Another special use for this structural mock-up is to provide training on a variety of fall arrest systems and perimeter safety cable systems that can be used during the steel erection process. While making beam to column connections and moving point to point on the structure, apprentices will learn to use the correct fall arrest equipment at different locations. Manufactured fall arrest equipment and anchorage devices such as portable stanchion-posts, beamer devices, over-head lifeline systems and retractable lifelines are some of the fall protection equipment apprentices will learn to use on the structural mock-up. The four columns are shop fabricated safety tabs at 42 inches and mid-span above the first and second floor framing for the installation of perimeter safety cables. The apprentices will be instructed in the correct methods for installing safety cables and forged cable clamps.

During my travels the last few years to the different local unions across North America, I’ve had the privilege of touring many training centers and meeting the training staff responsible for training our members. It is encouraging to see each facility has a library of ironworker training manuals from which to teach. However, not every training facility has the necessary hands-on structures to illustrate the classroom instruction. Many coordinators and instructors from our 154 training centers have come up with their own mock-ups pieced together through the donations of employers from steel left-over from their projects. Others have designed and purchased different structures on their own. As I work closely with the director of safety, we both agree every training center should have the opportunity to consider upgrading their structural mock-ups and purchase proper hands-on equipment so our current and future members continue to have the best training available. More importantly, we want to ensure all structures used for apprentice training have been engineered for stability, and can withstand repeated assembly and disassembly by apprentices.

The National Training Fund has a complete set of engineered shop and details drawings for reference and use by training centers throughout the United States and Canada. Please contact the Ironworkers National Training Fund if you would like more information or a set of these drawing to upgrade your local union training center.