A few days ago, the word “welding” appeared in my newsfeed from Google. The article was about a new bill in Kentucky tightening up on how welder certifications are performed. That article can be seen at http://www.wave3.com/2019/02/23/dogs-certified-welders-ky-bill-aims-ensure-it-never-happens-again/
Supporters of Kentucky House Bill 239 say it’s critical to your safety.
It would legally require welders working on some structural projects to be certified
properly,because some say the current system is broken.
Well, in Kentucky, the International Building Code is in place which refers to AISC-360 which in turn refers to AWS D1.1 which has all of the requirements for welder testing and supporting documentation. But like many things, I am sure another “law” will help. The system is not “broken”
If you would like to see what Kentucky has “Said” since 2013 you can look at http://dhbc.ky.gov/Documents/2013%20KBC%204th%20Edition%20(December%202015)%20-%206-22-2016.pdf
If you notice on page 73 of the KBC (Kentucky Building Code) referenced above, it refers to AISC 360. If you were to download a copy of AISC 360 at https://www.aisc.org/globalassets/product-files-not-searched/historic-standards/specification-for-structural-steel-buildings-360-10.pdf do a search for the term “welder” you can get an idea of a few requirements that are already in place. Take specific note of the table that is titled “C-N5.4-1 Inspection Tasks Prior to Welding”
One additional requirement in AISC 360 is the reference to AWS D1.1. See Para. J2 at 16-1-108. Essentially the requirments of D1.1 are LAW by reference from the states building code through AISC 360. I would post links to AWS D1.1 so everyone could see what the “LAW” says but AWS isn’t to keen on sharing their documents.
Anyway, on with my ideas. Further down in the article another statement is made that says…
So, if a project decides to require AWS Certification and inspectors, one Kentucky legislator wants to make sure professional guidelines are the law, not just a suggestion.
“AWS Certification” implies certification BY the American Welding Society. The cases in the article were NOT done in accordance with the AWS Certified Welder Program. The AWS Certified Welder Program has many requirements one of which is the identification of the welder. This requirement is part of the AWS Certified Welder Program. See AWS QC-7 93 Paragraph 5.1 at this link. http://files.aws.org/certification/CW/QC7-93.pdf. The various codes written/sold by the American Welding Society that I have used do NOT require welders to be tested in accordance with the AWS Certified Welder program. AWS D1.1 does not require this verification of identification however since contractors are required to test
Who should test and certify the welders?
AWS D1.1 places the primary burden of welder qualification testing on the contractor. How they perform said testing is really the primary issue that could lead to things being done incorrectly. Some of the methods they could use that comply with D1.1 are …
- They could utilize the services of an AWS Accredited Test facility that can perform “AWS Certification” for welders. The good thing about this is that EVERY AWS Accredited Test Facility has a written program detailing what they do and how they do it. AWS D1.1 for instance does not even require a company to have a written quality system. (AISC has programs for fabricators and erectors that may or may not be mandatory in a given state.)
- They can have the welder weld up the test plates or pipe(s) following all of the rules of AWS D1.1 and either test the finished welds themselves or subcontract the testing and inspection. Regardless, they sign the bottom line!
- They can, with the approval of the engineer, use records from another organization that support the range of qualifications for the individual welding on the project.
So understand that there is NOT a requirement for companies performing work in accordance with AWS D1.1 and most other codes to utilize an outside agency to test and certify their welder. As far as D1.1 goes, using another agency requires the records to be approved by the engineer.
Some codes such as ASME Sec. IX that is referenced for work involving many types of equipment including boilers, pressure vessels and piping system specifically PROHIBIT an agency other than the manufacturer or contractor from testing the welders. A company must witness the test. They can take the weld that they witnessed and send it off for NDE or DT and then review those records and then they (the contractor) signs the “bottom line”. I recently tested some welders in accordance with ASME Sec. IX and a the AWS Certified Welder Program. I required the contractor be present during the testing.
So what is the problem?
It really does get down to organizations from owners to building officials knowing what is required and enforcing it. The “Laws” are in place but are all parties involved performing their due diligence in assuring compliance or are they focused on doing whatever they have to to keep on doing what they do?
Thouge welder testing is very important understand that the conditions for taking a welder qualification test are pretty easy. The conditions on the jobsite are driven by the management and supervision of all parties involved. I have seen some pretty terrible welding done by people who had valid welder qualification tests and I have seen some great welding on jobs where the contractor could not supply me a record of welder performance qualification testing at all!
Some other more detailed “takes” on the issue and I suggest noting who some of the parties were that were involved. Is it possible an agenda exists for exposing a problem? Maybe or maybe not. You should lookup the “Workers Freedom Coalition” and see if there is any possible relationships for some of the instances.
One thing to note is that the ironworkers union has its own AWS Accredited Test Facilities. Non-union contractors would have to pay for the service to an outside entity to utilize the “AWS Certified Welder Program”
Back to the dogs!
Below are some other articles about the issue that are a little more detailed than the current one.
So in one case, some Union Ironworkers were sending coupons into a college for testing with false identities to show the error in the system (Ironworkers have their own ATF’s). It appears the college was supplying certified records in which they signed the “Bottom line” for the welder performance qualification record.
If an organization that does testing did
My ongoing ideas below
This issue has been around awhile. This issue has some things to consider on many levels. On my very short stint into the practices of steel erectors in Northeast Tennessee, I found the overall issue of “compliance” to be the exception and not the norm. This does not just go for welder qualification
I can’t comment on the rest of the world or even others experiences in my region.
- To think that a welder qualification record is all that is needed to hold a building together is a problem. The D1.1 code book is over about an inch thick. The pages related to welder qualification are probably around 1/8″ or less.
- Regardless of the validity of the welder qualification test, the contractors are the driving force behind what goes on during any construction/erection. If a company does not test their own welders AND monitor what they are doing during welding AND have a quality system in place that supports meeting the requirements of a specific project, bad things may happen.
- The entire process of welder qualifcation and testing is often misunderstood by the public, contractors, and even AWS Certified Welding Inspectors.
- Laws already exist but I have had a general contractor tell me “We own this town” after I was unable to document acceptance of welds that were not accessible for inspection. That mentality is the problem…its not just welder qualification testing that holds the steel together.
If you are interested in reading more about the “Certified Welder” you can take a look at http://weldingclassroom.com/learning/the-certified-welder or even take the Certified Welder Quiz.
God has blessed me with being able to work in a field that I really enjoy. I thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings and if you see errors or things I could do to improve this content, please let me know.
Comments and differing opinions about the subject are welcome.
If you have questions about the welder qualification testing process, please feel free to contact me. You can call or text me directly at 860-294-9353 (860-CWI-WELD). Text me 1st so I don’t think you are trying to sell me an extended warranty on my 1991 Subaru!
Have a great day!