The objective of this study was to assess differences in work demands, energetic workload and workers' discomfort and physical effort in two regularly observable workdays in ironwork; one where loads up to 50. kg were handled with two persons manually (T50) and one where loads up to 100. kg were handled manually with four persons (T100). Differences between these typical workdays were assessed with an observational within-subject field study of 10 ironworkers. No significant differences were found for work demands, energetic workload or discomfort between T50 and T100 workdays. During team lifts, load mass exceeded 25. kg per person in 57% (T50 workday) and 68% (T100 workday) of the lifts. Seven ironworkers rated team lifting with two persons as less physically demanding compared with lifting with four persons. When loads heavier than 25. kg are lifted manually with a team, regulations of the maximum mass weight are frequently violated. Statement of relevance: Loads heavier than 25. kg are frequently lifted during concrete reinforcement work and should be lifted by a team of persons. However, the field study showed that loads above 25. kg are most of the time not lifted with the appropriate number of workers. Therefore, loads heavier than 25. kg should be lifted mechanically. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and The Ergonomics Society.