ASTORIA, Queens – Steel helped build America and ahead of Steel Day on Friday, the industry wants the country and New Yorkers to know what it’s like to weld, rig, cut, and climb steel.
The ironworkers training facility in Astoria held an open house on Wednesday, showing the benefits of hiring steel contractors, union steel iron workers, and promoting the American steel industry.
Contractors, engineers, and designers got a firsthand look at what it’s like to be an ironworker.
Jacinda Collins, a senior structural specialist at American Institute of Steel Construction, said it’s one thing to design a building, but it’s another to put it together.
“When they’re out designing a building they can kind of create a structure that’s easy for the ironworkers to build and also creates more safety at the site,” Collins said.
Putting themselves in the boots of ironworkers, the participants got hands-on experience in a relaxed and fun environment from union members.
Bryan Brady, director of training for Iron Workers Locals 40 & 361, said it gives other people involved in a project a better sense of the job ironworkers do.
“You see people climbing the column and it takes them 35, 40 seconds and our members are doing that eight, 10 hours a day, six, seven days a week,” Brady said.
They also learned how science plays into the job. Oxygen and fuel come together to create hot flames to cut the steel with a torch.
The day was also meant to show prospective ironworkers a less expensive alternative to college.
“To get into an industry where you can have a true middle-class career and support a family in the expensive New York City metro area,” Brady added.
Participants like Kenneth Sisk enjoyed the event.
“The welding so far has been my favorite,” Sisk said. “It’s really cool to see. I didn’t realize how hard it was but I think at the end I started to get the hang of it, so it was really fun.”
Brady also said highlighting safety and education in the industry is important to prevent fatalities on the job. He said 50 people have died during construction projects in New York City over the past four years, and 90% of those killed did not have formal training.