Careful attention to a seemingly insignificant structural design detail, column web orientation in this case, can be a real life-saver in the field – literally.
In mid- and high-rise buildings, perimeter columns are typically spliced every two floors. If structural design requirements allow, it’s best to orient column webs parallel to the edge of the building. This can offer significant productivity gains in the field. It is also safer for the workers and anyone or anything on the ground in the vicinity of the work.
If column flanges are parallel to the building edge, ironworkers must spend time and effort setting up a platform (also known as a ‘float’) suspended off the edge of the building to access the outside flange. The ironworkers then have to move equipment and materials on to the float. The ironworker then carefully steps onto the float and very carefully performs his work high above the ground. During this time there is increased risk that the worker or materials can fall to the ground below.
When column webs are parallel to the building edge, both flanges are directly accessible from the working floor. In this case the ironworker simply sets up on the working floor each side of the column and performs his work while standing on the deck. The result is much less setup time and faster production from the surefooted ironworker.
It’s safer too for everyone involved. The ironworker is no longer at risk of falling off the edge of the building and people and property below are at much less risk of injury or damage due to falling objects from above.
Regional Engineering Manager, PE, LEED AP
Banker Steel Company