Did construction workers ever sit on metal beams to eat lunch? If so, why?

I’m scared of heights, so this idea has always terrified me. Beyond that, though, it seems really silly and dangerous. A worker my might be safe while he’s sitting, but what if there’s a gust of wind or a slippery spot when he’s moving to the end of the beam?

Why would construction workers sit on a metal beam when they could sit on the ground, or on another, more stable (i.e. not hanging from a crane) part of the project?

It would take too long to get to the ground. Those guys walk on those beams all day, I’m sure eating lunch while perched on one would be second nature.

A friend of mine was an iron worker before he injured his knee. Not only do they walk/etc in a very dangerous situation, but many of them drink their lunch (if ya know what I mean).

Now I’ve got “It’s Raining Men” stuck in my head . . .

Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe ironworkers usually sit on beams suspended from cranes to eat their lunch. They sit on the beams that are already a part of the building framework. As to why they do that, Duke of Rat has answered – it would take too long for them to get to the ground.

That statue is based on a famous photograph taken in 1932 by Charles Ebbett of a lunchbreak during construction of Rockefeller Center.

LOL, can’t say as to iron wrkers but I do know the high scalers on the Boulder Dam/Hoover Dam project used to eat perched on the cliff face. mrAru’s’ grandfather was a high scaler on the project. Fascinating man, just wish he had lived long enough for me to meet him=(

Where to they keep their lunches? They don’t drag their lunches all over the building with them. Where ever they store their lunch boxes in the morning would be the ideal place to eat lunch, you would think. After all, they have to GO GET the lunch boxes at lunch anyway.

But if they have to carry various hammers and similar implements of construction with them, then surely a couple of sandwiches wouldn’t add much to the trouble (tho’ they might be a bit squashed by lunchtime).

Leaving your lunch on the ground or carrying it on your person aren’t the only options. I would think if you’re working on the umpteenth story today, you’d take it up with you in the morning and find a place to set it near where you’re working.

I think workers literally used lunch buckets to carry their food, as shown here. But the workers in the photo appear to be eating from identical boxes. Were their meals catered?

I’ve always wondered about this - today construction techniques don’t require people to build a “framework” dozens of storeys above the last completed level, do they?

Right, but it wouldn’t be on the friggin beam their working on. They also wouldn’t all be working on the same beam. I would think they have agreed to eat on the beam for the value of the photo being taken, I’d be suprised to learn that this was SOP. The other option is to have some grunt bring your lunch up from the umptee-seventh floor to the umptee-eleventh floor.

TabbyCat, todays sonstruction standards are so finely tuned by OSHA that you can barely spend a day as an Iron Worker and not be constantly tied off via safety harnesses and fall protection ropes. I think you have to be tied off if you’re 8 feet or more above the next safe platform, unless your making a connection, then you have to tie off as soon as the connection is secure. The days of beam walking without fall protection are over.
As far as your other question, every project (building) is tackled differently. Most buildings today can be built from the inside out a couple of levels at a time.

Basically, a concrete slab is poured on each floor as the collumns are completed.

What do you think is not SOP? That eleven guys meet at a common beam and eat lunch every day? On a project with hundreds of workers, that doesn’t seem too unlikely. It seems likely that at lunchtime, the workers would tend to congregate in a common place - probably the same place they left their lunch box in the morning. Granted, the guys in that photo may have been posed for the shot, but I expect that to be a common seen at noon.

Looking at that image makes my calves vibrate.

—clicks “close”—

A few more pics Here

Interestingly enough, Mohawk Indians are still well represented among ironworkers.

Looking at the photo, I now wonder how the guys could stand up after lunch, or, indeed, sit down in the first place - simply because the sit-down/stand-up process normally requires, for clumsy people like me, anyway, a bit more in the way of space to pub my feet and so on.

Yet of course the pic precedes phototshop, and I’ve seen photos of the building of some high blocks near where I live too.

Hellm, that is a job I would not have had for more than two minutes, then splat! :frowning:

Maybe they preferred it up there? If I had no fear of heights (i.e. not even the “standard” amount of fear), I might do it for the view and fresh air.

By the way, if going down to the ground was too much trouble for lunch, what did they do for a bathroom? The obvious answer is rather disgusting - though I suppose it would disperse into an invisible mist before it hits the ground.

My step-father worked at a large constuction and contracting company headquartered in New York. His company, for example, had the maintenance contract on the antennas and lights on top of the World Trade Center (RIP) and Empire State Building. It was some steeplejack’s job, for example, to climp to the top of the antenna on the top of the WTC and change the lightbulb. He told me that a large percentage of steeplejacks were Native Americans. He said for some reason, Native Americans were not as afraid of heights as Europeans. I don’t know if this was or is true, but I do know it was a commonly held belief in ‘the business.’