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Up Topic Welding Industry / Technical Discussions / Inspector Liability
- - By ziggy (**) Date 02-17-2003 13:32
I have seen this subject before and is always of interest to me.
This morning however, I read a brief news article sent via email from and what caught my eye was the fine levied against an inspection service. They received the largest fine, $12,600 for "failing to ensure all of the welds were complete. They were also cited for failure to properly train their inspector at the job site. Investigators found he was not inspecting every weld, as required by the building code. As a result, as many as 18 welds the inspector reported as being sound did not exist."
There were three fatalities at this job site. The jobsite is the Home Depot store in Greensboro, NC.
What a shame.
Parent - - By Wildturkey (**) Date 02-17-2003 14:40
thanks for the link on this ziggy. I am glad to see that inspectors are starting to be held accountable. In SC many of the steel inspectors are soil technicians that have been with a company for about 6 months and do not have a clue about welding, but the independant testing company will send them out to inspect welds because they do not have a CWI on staff. It makes it hard to be a CWI competing against the soil and concrete technicians wages. Many contractors look for the cheap way out and do not think about the risk. It is ashame that it takes someone loosing their life to turn a few heads.
Parent - - By rpoche (*) Date 02-17-2003 15:14
How does a Soil Tech inspect welds???? We use the UBC in Ca. and the "Special Inspector shall be a qualified person who shall demonstarte competence" (1701.2). Are Soil Tech, etc legally allowed to inspect welds??

At least on the projects I have been involved with, the minimum qualifications for welding inspection is a Special Inspector (welding & structural steel) ICBO and/or CWI.

Parent - - By ziggy (**) Date 02-17-2003 17:46
I work for a New York fabricator. I am the QA manager and a CWI with additional certs.
Recently, I had two steel coupons set on my desk with the instructions to "place a weld on these samples."
Upon further inquiry I was told that the samples were from existing steel and the fabricator was required to create two new coupons consisting of new steel joined to the existing samples. No other direction was given than "place a weld on these samples."
I called the inspection agency that was to perform the tests on the new coupons. I asked the inspector what grade was the existing steel, what year the building was erected, anything to guide me in some direction to begin putting together the PQRs and WPSs together.
The inspector told me 'Sorry. I am a soils tech, I don't have a clue.'
This is the inspector who will perform VT as well as tensile, etc????
So, its not just in South Carolina.
Parent - By rpoche (*) Date 02-17-2003 23:01
Maybe we should trade our stingers for shovels????

Parent - By Wildturkey (**) Date 03-10-2003 16:48
Well I see there have been quite a few posts to this since I have been away. There were a few questions for me, and how people like this are allowed to be an inspector. This is a copy from a South Carolina State website'lBldgCode.htm This is what it says

Amendment Number: IBC 2000-06.

Section: Chapter 17.

Amendment: Delete all sections of Chapter 17 except for Sections 1704.12 and 1704.14. Substitute the deleted sections with Chapter 17 from the 1997 edition of the Standard Building Code and use in conjunction with Sections 1704.12 and 1704.14.

Reasons: Special inspections should not be mandatory, but at the discretion of the building official. Special inspections are overly restrictive for small buildings. Also, not enough qualified inspectors are available in South Carolina to perform special inspections.

Proponent: BCC Staff

Effective Date: April 18, 2001

Now I think something is wrong when a state adopts a national code and deletes a whole chapter because there are not enough qualified inspectors to do the job. The problem is not with inspectors; supply and demand will prove this. Instead the people on the boards are major shareholders or owners of construction companies or either strongly urged to vote against inspections.

South Carolina is what I like to call the good ol boy state. Over 50% of the jobs that I go on require Low-Hydrogen electrodes. Sounds simple but you will never see an oven on site. Welder qualifications are received only 75% of the time and most of them were tested 2F only. Decking qualifications and WPS's? Forget it. Now the thing you have to remember as the inspector is that you are hired by the contractor NOT THE OWNER. So the problems that you come across will be written up and submitted to the project manager but not the engineer. (Remember you work for the contractor not the engineer and you cant have anything bad getting back to someone who can do something about it) You have to tread very lightly because if you piss anyone off they will fire you and hire another firm that will send a soil technician in there who doesn’t have a clue what he is doing and will not raise any flags.

Well this is enough ranting for me here. Here is another post on the subject.

Parent - - By stever (**) Date 02-17-2003 23:23
Hey Wildturkey, what part of the "Gri-at Sti-ate" of South Carolina are you in? I've seen those same practices around the upstate. Some of the soils testing facilities claim that the "engineer" in charge has the authority to have someone that he appoints to work as the designated welding inspector. No I can't interpret that, nor do I know from where that comes from. I've worked with CWI's that had the paperwork, but could not weld or identify the simple things such as undercut. These people could do the book work and pass a test, even do the discontinuity identifications. But reality on the job interpretations were sriously lacking in ability. That, to me, is a shame. The paperwork was a means to a contract. The understanding to do the job was of no concern.
Parent - - By JTMcC (***) Date 02-17-2003 23:48
Well, I hate to say it, but I have seen and dealt with many welding inspectors where I thought we would be better off with a soil testing technician. Some of those guys can sit and look at the bottom of a pipe for 15 minutes and still not know what he's gazing at. No offense, if your the best there ever was, I believe you, just a comment on the poor state of inspection as we see it. JTMcC.
Parent - By DGXL (***) Date 02-18-2003 00:03
I have to respectfully disagree on your observation on the inspection industry. It is like any other, it has it's problems.

There are good and bad inspectors.
There are inspectors with lot's of hands on as well technical training who make excellent inspectors.
There are many who do not have the experience and training, but were able to pass a test.

This is why we as the inspection community should be doing more to help resolve these issues by attending continuing education classes for our respective disciplines. This is just one thought.

I volunteer countless hours every year doing my part (little as it is). We help by offering advice and suggestions in this very forum. We train others, and help them when they have made errors.

No I don't want to get naked and sing folk songs, but you have to make the best with what you have is my belief. I hear lot's of complaints, but I also notice the ones that complain are usually the ones that do not participate in their livelyhood. This includes some of my best friends who are sure to call when they read this post.
Parent - - By KAJUN1 (*) Date 02-18-2003 04:16
Well I have to agree over the last 12 yrs. I've been in QC I've worked a lot of inspectors on shutdowns & construction jobs. But over those yrs. I've had 3 CWI's with an NDE background. Not saying they're like these 3 but I fired all 3. When you have a welding problem you need someone who knows something about welding, not sit there complane about water spots on the film. When working shutdowns you need someone who will take the bull by the horns and make a decision, not tell someone we'll have to wait until dayshift comes back in. I've gotten to be like one of my old bosses, if your a welding inspector, bring your hood & show me you can weld first.
Parent - - By rpoche (*) Date 02-18-2003 12:07
I owned a welding shop for 12 years and a majority of our projects had welding inspectors at the shop for continuous inspection. I never felt it was the inspector’s duty to teach or train the welders but to ensure compliance. If the inspector was able to help solve the problems, great, but the burden of welder training/qualification is on the Contractor and the welder.

As DG stated continuing education is paramount for Inspectors and should also apply for Welders or anyone else in this industry. Time-in-Grade is not a substitute for knowledge but a base for knowledge.

I used to bash inspectors in general but I have since realized what is required just to pass the CWI, UT, RT exams etc. Inspection is like anything else, you have the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. No offense is intended for anyone, just an opinion
Parent - - By RonG (****) Date 02-18-2003 12:58
An Inspector is not like a magic bullet, he can only inspect as the code requires and if there is no code, well there you have it!
Parent - By jwright650 (*****) Date 02-18-2003 14:12
I would like to begin by saying I don't agree with what the inspector at the Home Depot did or say that was the right thing to do, or even back up his philosphy about inspection. I do feel for Inspectors that are not in on start up meetings, or clued in to specific details about the job. Sometimes companies will leave the Inspector out in the dark until it's too late and then they have a mess for the Inspector to magically make go away. Companies, maybe not on purpose, more out of ignorance about what is required to complete a good inspection, per the job specs., will leave out the Inspector when important desicions are being made.
For years, here at our company, bent plate had been detailed within a 1/2" of field welded moment joints. One day someone asked me about UT'ing the joints, but no provision had been made to hold back the bent plate from the joint on the top flange, therefore that joint could not be checked completely until the bent plate was cut back from the joint about a foot. The thicker the material, the further back from the joint, it needed to be. I cringe to think how many joints were done this way in previous years, only because no one bothered the Inspector to see how much the bent plate needed to be held back for him to UT the top flange.
I know there are more instances like this and some Inspectors may look the other way, but good inspection is good for everyone involved. I said "good inspection" not just picky over little things and miss important things. I'm partial to the inspectors because I've been there and know what its like to make those tough calls and not back down with all the pressure "to let it go".
If you need me to prep it, fit it up, and weld it, then I don't feel I can be the one to Inspect it. I don't really agree with what was said in another post about the Inspector needing to weld to be a good Inspector. I've trained some good inspectors that have never welded, but that don't mean they can't tell if it is not up to code, or specs., or not.
Just another opinion,
John Wright
Parent - - By JTMcC (***) Date 02-18-2003 14:20
If inspection was uniform, or somewhat so, from job to job, and inspector to inspector, the world would be a happier place. Many inspectors have their own little hang ups or pet peeves and we must adapt to a constantly changing set of rules, add in a little resentment or down right animosity toward welders and it just gets more difficult. Everything we do is to code, so I don't get your "no code" comment.
Parent - - By DGXL (***) Date 02-18-2003 15:33
I work with fabricators who always do an excellent job, fabricators who do so-so, and fabricators who never seem to get it right.

Does this mean the entire fabrication industry is in trouble?

I like RonG's comment: "The inspector is not a magic bullet..."

The fabricators who never seem to get it right typically blame inspection, because they can never seem to get it right.

No inspection is not uniform, neither is the fabrication industry.
My point is, what industry is?
Parent - - By JTMcC (***) Date 02-18-2003 21:48
Of course there is a broad range of competence in any business, I know and understand that. But that's not what we see in weld inspection, we see a different world and a different set of criteria with each new inspector. You can say whatever you want but the fact is, for many companies, across the country, the inspection varies, to too large of a degree, with different inspectors. We treat inspection as well as all other's involved in our jobs with respect and courtesy, we don't ask for problems. All of our welders do the same. Inspectors seem to arrive on site with an animosity towards welders, from the get go. As far as a magic bullit, I have no earthly idea what you mean by that, we don't ask for nor need, or want a magic bullit, we want consistent, reliable, knowledgable inspection, that doesn't cost me money on stupid dead ends. If you went to the same grocery store, every day of the week, and bought the same stuff, but got different prices depending on the cashier, you would begin to wonder, as we do. And I'm definitly not the only one to notice this. JTMcC.
Parent - - By rpoche (*) Date 02-19-2003 01:19

A couple of questions.

1. What part of the country

2. What type of projects (private, public etc)

3. What are the inspectors qualifications CWI, SCWI, ICBO, other

4. A couple of specifics


Parent - By JTMcC (***) Date 02-28-2003 03:52
1. West and Midwest USA.
2. Both.
3. Yes : )
4. Our primary work is pipeline related welding, some pile driving and structural. All under either 1104, Sec 9 or D1.1.
Parent - By Wildturkey (**) Date 03-10-2003 17:03
Hi Steve, yes I am around the upstate. (As a matter of fact, way back when, you was even one of my welding instructors) There are many testing firms that send the Geotech Eng or Civil Eng out to look at welds. But once these guys are informed that there is more than just looking at the weld they usally back off. EXAMPLE...I just came off a job up you way that a Engineer signed off on the first and second floors. The Contractor had some problems with the firm and hired us. To put it short the contractor asked me to re-inspect the first and second floors before looking at the third so they would have all reports from one inspector. There were a few welds on the first and second floors that would have been rejected based on the visual. But instead ALL WELDS were rejected because the erector welded a group II steel with 60 series rods. This is someting that should have been found a long time ago but instead a PE signed off on it.
Parent - - By CHGuilford (****) Date 02-18-2003 17:42
Thanks for passing this on. I'd like to think of it as a good wake up call for everyone to be aware of what could happen. I haven't heard of liability judgment against an inspector in my area, maybe I just haven't paid enough attention. This certainly drives home the point of how important it is to document what was inspected, how inspection was done, who did it, what was found, and what the inspection criteria was. I like to think of that whenever I'm feeling lazy, tired, or anxious to get home.

Chet Guilford
Parent - By jwright650 (*****) Date 02-18-2003 18:49
You're right! It is a wake up call for all of us. It could happen to any of us, if we let our guards down for even a minute.
I'm glad the story was shared too.
John Wright
Parent - By pipewelder_1999 (****) Date 02-18-2003 23:16
Not to take away from the fact that the inspector may have falsified what he inspected.

1) How many welds were there?
2) How many did the erector look at?
3) Who has more responsibilty to know if something is done or not? The person/organization who does it or a person requested to verifiy it?
4) Who is responsible for placing the bad welds or missing welds ?

Improper training does exist. People do falsify documents. Fabricators and erectors DO sometimes only correct what they are told to by the inspector. This "We'll fix it if he sees it" attitude is rampant. Especially among organizations with no internal QA/QC or internal QA/QC that has been taken over by managment interested in "getting by".

Do you think the inspector would have indicated the welds were complete if he knew they weren't? Now, do you think anyone within the erectors organization ever saw the unwelded joint? Who had a blatant disregard for making sure the job was done right? Is only the inspector responsible for quality?

WHAT IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF THESE LOST LIVES? Not what could have been done to prevent it. WHAT CAUSED IT?

There is my 2 cents worth. I have about another nickle to add but it is best I count my money before spreading it around.

G Austin
Up Topic Welding Industry / Technical Discussions / Inspector Liability

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