Steel framing is often used as an economical and green alternative to traditional wood framing. While similar to wood framing, steel framing and its uses in construction is different enough that you should get training on the proper use of these innovative materials.
Wear the same personal protective equipment that you would wear for any construction job. Sturdy work gloves protect your hands from cuts, scrapes and punctures, because steel frame members may have sharp edges. Wear a hard hat and safety glasses to protect your head and eyes. Sturdy work boots with a heel and slip resistant sole protect your feet and help you safely climb ladders.
Steel framing tools are similar to wood construction tools. They include tin snips, a screw gun, nibblers, and a circular or chop saw. Fasteners used include self-drilling screws and self-tapping fasteners. With fewer nails used in the construction and the addition of more screws, workers should use screw guns that are lightweight and fit comfortably in the hand to prevent fatigue and overuse injuries.
Steel frame members weigh as much as 60% less than their wood frame counterparts, but ergonomic work positioning is still important on the job. Use good lifting techniques by lifting with your legs, not your back. Load materials using a mechanical lifting device or team lift when you can. Make sure that loads are secure before you lift them. Tie loose items together to stabilize loads.
Steel frame members can come in longer lengths than wood frame pieces, so construction may span longer distances and ceilings and roofing may be taller. Make sure to use ladders safely on the job. Properly guard roof, wall, and floor holes to prevent accidental falls. When working on roofing surfaces, evaluate the height and pitch to determine what fall prevention and protection may be required.
Speedy construction is one of the selling points for steel framing, but don’t take shortcuts when it comes to safety. The basic principles of worksite safety still apply. Maintain good housekeeping throughout the work day by cleaning up periodically during your shift. Keep tools and equipment in proper working order through routine maintenance and inspections.