Conceptus, of Caughey Street, Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, design and build mezzanine floors. I started work there on 4 February 2008, after an interview the previous week (31 January, if I remember correctly).
At the start of each job, an electronic drawing of the plan of the building (in AutoCAD) was saved to the relevant folder, and I was given a paper drawing showing also the locations of the columns and the hot-rolled beams (Beams with an I-shaped cross-section). The computer held a library of symbols, and I copied the column symbols to the correct points and used the beam symbols to draw the beams. Unless my boss asked me to use specific types, I used ProSteel to work out which types of beam and column to use; this application also showed what sizes of base plate to use for each column. At first, I drew all beams in the same colour, but my boss later asked me to use a different colour for each type of beam. Incidentally, a beam type is written in the form 305x165x40 UB (Universal Beam), where the figures denote the height, width (both in mm) and mass per unit length respectively.
The beams sat on top of the columns (obviously!). Lines of hot-rolled beams were connected to each other by secondary beams (Beams with a C-shaped cross-section), which were connected to the hot-rolled beams with cleat brackets. Again, I used a computer application to decide what types of secondary to use; the application also stated whether tie-rods were needed to connect pairs of secondaries, and whether one or two should be used to connect each pair. I copied a pair of secondaries, complete with cleat brackets, from the library into the drawing, then extended and copied them as necessary.
Finally, boards went on top of this arrangement. I drew a rectangle in one corner, then copied it in both directions until rectangles covered the entire mezzanine floor area. I then moved alternate rows along by half a board, so that the arrangement resembled the stretcher bond pattern of brick walls. Because of this, and possibly also because of the dimensions of the mezzanine floor, fractions of boards were used as well as whole ones.
Another of my tasks was to detail the beams. I started by drawing circles on the beam to denote the holes made to connect it to the top plates of columns. I then copied the beam and the cleats connected to it. Next, I used the top view and the cross-section to draw the side view, before adding the dimensions. Beams of the same type and length and with the same pattern of holes shared the same reference number. I therefore added the beam reference, type and quantity, plus the job reference, before saving the views and information as a .pdf file. When I had detailed all the beams needed for a particular job, I saved the PDFs into a .zip file, then E-mailed that and the delivery instructions to the manufacturer.
Some of the hot-rolled beams ran at right angles to the main ones. Endplates were welded to the ends of the former beams and connected to the webs of the latter. As this required more than two holes to be drilled into the web, the dimension lines and text would have to be smaller. In order that the manufacturer could see it, I had to save this detail as a separate PDF. My boss suggested giving each different detail its own reference code. I could then simply give the reference codes on the beam drawings and only needed to dimension each different detail once.
The column details were drawn by hand on sheets of dotted lines. There was a header for information about the job. Each detail consisted of a plan view showing the column upright, base plate and top plate. Also given were the dimensions of each part, the type of upright, and the reference number and quantity of the column. Again, columns with the same dimensions, type of upright and arrangement of parts shared the same reference number.
Some columns were to be braced; I was told where the bracing should go. In this arrangement, metal plates were welded to the top and bottom of the column uprights and connected diagonally by long pieces of metal (braces). I drew this on the computer, adding the reference number and quantity of each arrangement before saving it as a PDF. I copied a brace and made it horizontal before dimensioning it, but I dimensioned the plates without moving them and saved them as separate PDFs.
Where a column was braced, I added a side view to the column details, with dimensions. On the plan view, I showed the bracing plates as having been displaced from the centre of that side of the column upright, such that one edge was in line with the column centre. Looking from the top, those bracing plates at the top were all displaced in the same direction - clockwise or anticlockwise - and all those at the bottom were displaced in the opposite direction. This enabled the braces to be fitted to the plates such that they just touched each other.
There is a spreadsheet listing everything that might be needed for a job, together with the unit prices. This was to be copied to the job folder and the quantities inserted; the spreadsheet would then give the total cost. I added extra sheets to the original file for information about the hot-rolled beams, boards, columns, cleats and tie-rods, then inserted formulae into the main sheet that would use this information to calculate the required quantities of parts; I copied this idea from my job at Bridlington Hospital. Where I manually entered the quantities of items, eg cleats, I grouped them into rows and entered the quantities as formulae showing the number in each row; this made it easier to check for mistakes.
In early 2009, the secretary mentioned that she had arthritis, and mentioned the effect of the treatment on her liver (Fortunately, that effect later died down). That made me worry about her and I wanted to do whatever I could to help. As I did not have much work to do at the time, I offered to share her workload, at least to do things that someone without arthritis would find easier to do, and asked whether there was anything else I could do for her; but she declined.
In March 2009, a letter was to be sent to all the company's suppliers. I offered to put the copies into envelopes, but the secretary declined. However, on the 25th (when she was not at work), I did it anyway, as she had not had time to do it herself. I hoped she would appreciate my help, but when she found out what I had done she lost her temper, telling me never to do anything for her again. I tried to apologise later, but she did not want to know.
I tried to apologise again two days later, this time by E-mail. In response, she (falsely) accused me of asking her to justify her actions, then left the office. When my boss arrived, he told me I was being suspended on full pay pending an investigation, and asked me to leave immediately. I later E-mailed a letter to him telling him everything that had happened. On 3 December, however, my boss telephoned me to say the matter had not been resolved, and that the secretary had even involved her solicitor and trade union in the matter. I was therefore laid off. There was now too little work to keep me there anyway. The telephone call was followed up with a letter, which for some reason gave my last working date as 30 November. I asked why this date was given, but did not receive a reply.
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