The purpose of all of our blog articles is to point out code specific issues in the topic being discussed, focusing on those areas that we not only feel are the most important, but that we come across in the field most often. It is our intention to not only educate, but to have our clients and prospective clients examine their internal project protocols to make sure that they performing their construction in the safest and most cost effective nature.
Every project that Mid Pacific Testing (MPTI) takes on is approached in a methodical, well thought out manner. Most owners and project manager first discuss the initial costs of inspection without factoring in the risks associated with nonconforming construction. There are two main risks that arise out of a failed item—Financial and Life Safety. What is the economic burden for correcting a failed item? What’s the financial impact to remove or replace deficient work? How much will it cost if there is a delay in using the building, road or other item being constructed? What is the potential reduction in the usable life of the entire construction edifice if the deficient work is left in place? What are the potential dangers to the users if the deficient work is not corrected?
Remember, there are code requirements, specification requirements and best practices. Sometimes the risk to life safety is such or the cost of repair so great that further considerations should be contemplated prior to the actual construction, in order to mitigate any potential loss. It’s something we ask all of our clients to consider with their engineers and architects if we have a question or concern.
Now that you have a lay of the land, let’s get on to the topic at hand—welding.
There is little margin for error when it comes to this discipline. The IBC and AWS codes are very clear. And when it comes to welding of structural steel, deficient work puts the project at high risk, both in terms of life safety and financial impact.
Some types of construction have more forgiveness when it comes to the risks stated above. Although slab-on-grade concrete construction, when done incorrectly, can have serious financial cost impacts; the deficient slab-on-grade concrete work rarely causes direct life-safety issues for a user. Conversely, welding of structural steel, when done incorrectly, will not only have a severe economic consequence, but it also presents a serious life safety concern. Therefore, proper, professional and routine special inspections are crucial.
Chapter 17 of the International Building Code requires Special Inspection of steel fabrication and erection. Some connections require continuous inspection, with the inspector verifying the materials being used, the fit-up of the members and the observation of all welding. Complete and Partial Penetration groove welds (CJP and PJP), multi-pass fillet welds and fillet welds greater than 5/16” in size all require continuous welding inspection. When these welds are to be done, it is imperative that the welder not work without the inspector present. Code writers have determined that these types of welds, when done incorrectly, pose a significant threat to life safety. The relationship between work being done and the presence of the inspector is simple. No inspector-No work.
Single Pass Fillet welds less than or equal to 5/16” in size and all floor and roof deck welds require periodic special inspection. We have taken note, over the years, that this kind of inspection has most often been misinterpreted by contractors to mean that the inspector can come to the project after the welds are complete and the product is finished. The code is clear. When periodic inspections are required, the inspector must still verify that the work is being done in accordance with AWS D1.1, which states that the inspector is not required to be present when all welds are made, however; prior to the work being done, the inspector must verify that the: correct materials are being used, proper processes are being applied, and certified welders are doing the work. Just remember that the inspector must visually inspect all completed welds for conformance and must observe at least some of the welds being performed every day.
MPTI recommends that at least 2-3 hours be set aside on the first day that welding is going to take place so that our inspector can verify welder qualifications, processes, and materials. If it is determined that one or all of your welders needs re-certification, Mid Pacific Testing can perform that service for a fee. Our expertise, experience, and attention to detail greatly reduce the incidence of: deficient work, Non-Conformance Reports, re-work and life safety issues.
If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact us at 808-676-2720 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Have a safe and prosperous day.