Arc Welding 101: Welder requalification testing - When and why?

Practical Welding Today January/February 2011
May 13, 2014
By: Paul Cameron

Q: If a welder is no longer welding but he wants to maintain his qualifications period of effectiveness, we require four hours of production welding time to maintain that qualification. Four hours doesn’t seem quite long enough to stay in the groove. What say you?

Jeff P.

A: As a good friend, Jeff knows me as a literalist when it comes to code-speak. His question made me do a little digging, which I enjoy and from which I always learn.

As with any skill, the ability to perform welding varies from person to person. Most welders can pick up a stinger after a 25-week layoff and pick up right where they left off. Others need time to get back in the groove, as Jeff said.

I reviewed several AWS, ASME, and API documents and found one commonality: All three agencies require requalification testing when there is reason to question the welder’s ability. Beyond that, they differ.

API 1104 makes no mention of a six-month time frame. ASME Section IX and AWS D1.1, D1.3, D1.5, and D14.3 all have similar statements, such as “The welder’s qualification shall remain in effect indefinitely unless the welder has not engaged in the process for a period exceeding six months.” None of the codes or standards I reviewed mention a minimum number of hands-on hours to maintain qualification, nor are any suggestions made.

Imagine a production welding environment such as Crenlo’s in which a welder with two years’ experience decides to mix it up a little and take a job in the paint department. Can he still be considered a welder after six months? Possibly. How about after the next six months? Then the next? Four years later this welder has accumulated only 32 hours of welding experience, four hours at a time. With so little time under the hood, I might begin to question his ability.

As welding decision-makers, we need to pass judgment based on code requirements and code intent. The most basic course of action is to ask yourself if there is reason to question the welder’s ability. If no reasons exist, allow him to practice his craft. Otherwise, retest and evaluate his ability to make sound welds.

Paul Cameron

Braun Intertec
4210 Highway 14 East
Rochester, MN 55904

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