An Introduction and Brief Guide to Steel Erection

Steel erection is a cluster term that includes a broad set of tasks related to steelwork within the construction industry.

It’s tough and challenging work that requires expert hands. Given how important the work is for modern construction, here’s a brief introduction and guide to steel erection for contractors, builders, architects, and promoters alike.

Steel Erection Company

What is Steel Erection?

All processes involved in the construction, modification, connection, renovation, assembly, and installation of steel structures fall under the broad classification of steel erection. Each of those processes is sectioned and prioritized in accordance with the following four broad steps.


  1. Equipment establishment and verification
  2. Lifting and temporary fixing of steel parts
  3. Ensuring and verifying alignment
  4. Permanent Securing of the parts to complete the structure.

Note that these four broad steps will be repeated several times if the steel erection project is large and complex enough to need that. Each steel construct needed for the structure might be erected individually first, before putting them together for the main structure.

What are the Various Processes Involved in Steel Erection?

The number of processes required to erect any steel structure is numerous and they may vary from project to project as well. Nevertheless, we can break up the four main steps into a few broad ones to explain steel erection in much better detail.

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Equipment Setup – Setting up the equipment which will be used to lift, raise, place, and remove steel parts is of paramount importance. Any mistakes in this preparatory step can lead to tragic accidents. It requires a clear and proper understanding of how to install steel erection equipment such as lifts.

Placement – Raising, placing, removing, pulling, pushing, prying, shifting, and connecting steel columns, bars, girders, etc. as needed is a constant process in steel construction. They are primarily completed with the help of heavy machinery, but not exclusively so.

Fastening–The steel parts must be tied to lifting equipment with cables, ropes, or chains properly so that they can be hoisted safely to an elevated section of the structure.

Getting it wrong can be deadly for anyone standing below the elevated site. In fact, injury, and death from falling objects are one of the leading reasons behind construction site accidents.

Cutting and Welding– Steel beams and bars need cutting, trimming, shaping, and welding all the time at steel construction sites to make them fit the necessary specifications.

Therefore, steel erection workers must be properly trained on how to use the various power tools that are used to cut steel.

This may include expertise in operating gas cutters, plasma cutters, water jet cutters, laser cutters, and of course, power saws.

Alignment – After each individual steel part has been placed as precisely as possible with the machinery, steelworkers will check and measure manually to ensure every rivet hole on the steel parts is aligned perfectly.

If needed, they will make the necessary adjustments with manual tools (crowbars, jacks, turnbuckles, cutting torches, welders, etc.) and make sure each steel part is in alignment with the other.

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As it’s not yet time to permanently secure them, draft pins and wrenches will be used to hold them in temporary alignment.

Securing–Securing the aligned steel parts through bolting, screwing, or welding as needed is pretty much the final part of the job for most projects. It commences once the construction team is satisfied that every part is in perfect alignment with each other.

Why is Steel Erection One of the Riskiest Jobs in Construction?

Even the simplest of steel erection jobs can turn out to be extremely dangerous for construction workers who do not have the necessary skills to get the job done safely.

Since a lot of contractors still fail to recognize that fact every year, OSHA surveys have confirmed that steel erection is not just one of the most dangerous jobs in construction, but it’s also one of the top ten most dangerous occupations across all industries.

The examples above were mentioned to introduce readers to the kind of work that steel erection involves. The actual work involves a lot more steps and processes, which will vary depending on the concerned project.

Nevertheless, anyone with experience in construction should be able to tell from those examples alone that steel erection requires taking a lot of risks. It needs to practice precision, technical knowledge, training, and experience for workers to stay relatively safe.

Other than the exponentially increased risk of accidents, there is also the question of the precision and quality of each steel construct and the final structure to consider.

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Same as in any other field of work, no one can expect untrained construction workers to complete large and complex steel erection jobs with any reliable degree of precision.

If you have a project that is both complex and requires expert precision in steel erection, leave it to trained professionals like Koehn Construction.

What are the Potential Risks of Poor Steel Erection?

The risks of poor steel erection work in construction range from being very costly to downright catastrophic. It depends on the nature of that project and the severity of the mistakes made.

For example, if it’s about assembling a precast steel storehouse, then the chances of making grave mistakes are lower. However, if we are discussing steel foundations for an actual building, then that’s a complex project with huge potential for making disastrous mistakes. Poor steel erection can:

  • Lead to a partial collapse or even a complete collapse.
  • Harm the longevity of the building’s core infrastructure.
  • Bad steel infrastructure can make it very difficult to repair mistakes, even when they are detected.

Above all else, subpar steel erection can lead to massive loss of lives and property. This used to happen at a much higher frequency than they do now, thanks to strict building construction protocols.

Ensure that your own structure does not turn out to be an exception by working with professionals who have experience in steel erection jobs that are relevant to your project’s requirements.

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