Arc Welding 101: Advice for a conflicted CWI

Practical Welding Today May/June 2012
May 2, 2014
By: Paul Cameron

Q: The company I work for takes on jobs at the last minute, which makes it harder for me to work at the level that the customer requires, especially providing material test reports (MTR). I cannot provide all the MTRs our customer requires. Often we don't get them from our vendor, or parts have sat for so long that they can't be traced. How much trouble can a CWI get into if MTRs cannot be provided to the customer when they are required? Should I walk off the job to protect myself from losing my certification? Do I have a legal obligation because of the code, or does the company?


A: Section 11 of AWS QC1, Standard for AWS Certification of Welding Inspectors, states that the CWI must act to preserve the health and well being of the public by performing duties required of welding inspection in a conscientious and impartial manner to the full extent of his or her moral and civic responsibility and qualification. The CWI must also do the following:

  • Be completely objective, thorough, and factual in any written report, statement, or testimony of the work and include all relevant or pertinent testimony in such communiqués or testimonials.
  • Sign only for work that he has inspected, or for work over which he has personal knowledge through direct supervision.
  • Neither associate with nor knowingly participate in a fraudulent or dishonest venture or activity.

It sounds like you have come to a fork in the road and have some tough decisions to make. I’ve always believed that the reason we inspectors are hired is to save our bosses from themselves. I’d love to have a dime for every time I went home and told my wife, “It’s over. They’re going to fire me.” Strangely, I’m still around. But situations like yours are all too common for the CWI.

You cannot place your stamp or signature on a document you know to be false. Here are a few pieces of advice for you moving forward:

  • Know your code/standard/customer requirements and do not back down from them. When you make the call and refuse to “buy-off” on something, know where it is in the documents and be able to reference it.
  • Don’t wait until the entire weldment or piping system is complete before you stand your ground. Keep welders, foremen, and plant managers in the loop from the beginning.
  • Don’t overreach. Know the acceptance criteria, and don’t require a smidge more.
  • If you are treading in unfamiliar waters, get out of the pool. Those decisions are not yours to make. Stay within your field of expertise.
  • Finally, accept it if you are proven wrong. Don’t build a wall of resistance. Learn where you went wrong and come out of it a better inspector.
  • This situation can teach you a lot about yourself. One way or another this will be a career changer. Make it a good one.

    Paul Cameron

    Braun Intertec
    4210 Highway 14 East
    Rochester, MN 55904

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