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steel fixer

Steel fixers position and secure the steel bars and mesh used to reinforce concrete on construction and engineering schemes. They work on a wide variety of jobs including commercial and industrial development, multi-storey housing and civil engineering projects, such as roadworks, tunnels and bridges.

Following engineering plans, steel fixers:

  • set out the work area
  • use hand and power tools to cut and bend bars or mesh
  • tie rebar (reinforcement bars) together with wire, clips or welds to build up cages or sections
  • insert spacers and ‘chairs’ (supports)
  • fix the formwork and shuttering used to hold setting concrete in place
  • join cages and sections
  • fix steel to concrete bases
  • install beams and pre-cast slabs.

Steel fixers may also be involved with pre-stressing, post-stressing and tensioning materials, using hydraulic jacks and tensioning mechanisms.

Steel fixers work closely with engineering designers, steel erectors and other construction tradespeople.

Hours and Environment

Steel fixers work 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Overtime at weekends may be necessary to meet deadlines.
 
Most of the work is outdoors at heights and is physically demanding. Personal protective equipment is used. Travel from site to site is necessary, so a driving licence is usually required.

Skills and Interests

To be a steel fixer, you should:

  • be able to follow instructions and plans accurately
  • have an aptitude for practical work
  • be comfortable working at heights or underground if required
  • be able to work as part of a team
  • be physically fit
  • be fully aware of health and safety issues.

Entry

There are no set entry requirements for this type of work, but you may need some GCSEs (A-E)/S grades (1-5) in maths, English, science and technology, or equivalent vocational qualifications in construction or engineering.

A common route for young people is to train as an apprentice. Most apprentices start at 16 to 19, but entry may be possible up to 24. See Training section for contacts.

For more information about steel erecting as a career, contact ConstructionSkills or the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) in Further Information.

Training

You do most of your training on the job. There are NVQs available for those working in the steelwork sector. Units include: 
  • cutting and shaping steel
  • installing in-situ and/or prefabricated steel
  • using power tools
  • operating powered access equipment
  • transferring loads
  • safe working practices.
The main awards are: 
  • NVQ in Steelfixing Occupations Level 2
  • NVQ in Constructional Steelwork Site Operations Level 2 (two pathways: Erecting
  • Structural Steelwork and Installing Metal Floor Decking)
  • NVQ in Constructing Capital Plant Steel Structures (Erecting) Level 3.
Although not essential, the International Powered Access Federation’s Powered Access Licence (PAL) may prove useful. Contractors recognise it as proof of competency in operating mobile elevated work platforms on site. For more information about PALs and details of training providers, see the Federation’s website in Further Information.
 
By 2010, workers within the construction sector must hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card or be registered with an affiliated scheme. Many construction firms and their clients already insist that operatives hold a relevant CSCS card before being allowed to work on site. To receive a card, a worker must hold an NVQ/SVQ or acceptable equivalent and pass a health and safety assessment.
 
The cards are graded according to qualifications and experience. For experienced workers without formal qualifications, On-Site Assessment and Training (OSAT) can be used to achieve an award.
 
For details about the CSCS scheme, gradings, equivalent qualifications and applications, contact CSCS. For more detailed information about the health and safety test, training providers and OSAT, see ConstructionSkills.
 
Apprenticeships may be available for those under the age of 24. In England these are currently Apprenticeships (level 2) and Advanced Apprenticeships (level 3). To find out more about these, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk
 
Apprenticeships may be different in other areas. For further information see Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland

Opportunities

Employment opportunities follow trends in the construction industry and are currently good. Most steel fixers work on a sub-contract basis for steel fixing and erection firms. With experience, progression to supervisory positions is possible.

Annual Income

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Starting salaries are between £12,000 and £16,000 a year.
Average salaries for experienced steel fixers are between £17,000 and £22,000 a year.
Salaries for operatives with additional responsibilities can go up to £27,000.

 


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