Arc Welding 101: D1.1 welder documentation
Q: We have had guys certified for D1.1 for 15 years. But in the D1.1 book it says that they need to weld in every six-month period to keep their qualification current. What type of documentation do we need to keep on file to show that they have been welding? I cannot find this in the book, so I want to make sure that we are covered at this point.
A: What you are referring to is a continuity report or continuity log. According to AWS D1.1, Clause 126.96.36.199, a welder’s qualification is effective indefinitely as long as that welder does not go more than six months without using that process. ASME Section IX and most welding codes make similar statements.
We are required to provide documentation showing that the welder worked with all the processes (GMAW, GTAW, FCAW, SAW) he holds qualifications in, from the time qualification testing was completed to the present, without gaps in service greater than six months.
There are many ways that the six-month requirement can be broken:
- A welder enters active military service and then returns to his civilian job nine months later.
- An employee gets laid off and called back. However, fabricators typically monitor the six-month time frame to save the cost of requalifying the welder.
- A welder takes a supervisor job, but a year later decides to go back to welding.
- A welder qualified in GMAW takes a job running SAW for seven months, then returns to GMAW.
- A welder in a job shop seldom uses one or more of the processes he has qualified for.
All of these are common scenarios that have snuck up on me at different times in my career. It's a pain in the neck, but a welder qualification is of no value without an unbroken continuity report. That is the thing that will sting you in an audit.
I did a word search of continuity in D1.1 and got about a million hits for discontinuity but zero for continuity, so it looks as though you are on your own as to how you maintain that documentation.
I've worked for several organizations, and each had a different way of maintaining documentation. I've maintained a simple access database whereby every five months I went out on the shop floor and verified that each welder was using the process they were qualified in. I then logged the employee ID, the process, and the date.
I've worked with local unions (www.pf597.org) that maintained these records for their members and provided me, the contractor, with copies to show a clear trail and no lapses greater than six months.
Now I use a software program that generates a list of welders by plant location, department, and supervisor. I forward those lists to the supervisors every five months, and they return them with the updates. I update my database and I sign and keep hard copies.
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