GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., June 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Worker's Freedom Coalition (WFC) revealed today that a dog received his welding certifications from NDT Materials testing facility, a division of TÜV Rheinland. Henry Wolfe, a 1 year old basset hound- Chihuahua mix, is now certified to perform welding services on construction projects.
NDT is an inspection company that provides visual and non-destructive testing (NDT) of welds that can assess a welder's performance. NDT claims all their testing is performed in accordance with the American Welding Society (AWS) standards by certified welding inspector (CWI) personnel. But the WFC used the same "self-test" process used by many contractors to obtain welding certifications for Henry, says WFC member Rev. C.J. Hawking, "It's very shocking that we were able to get welding certifications for a dog—since obviously he didn't actually weld the plates sent to NDT. I think that speaks volumes about the reliability & accuracy of NDT's testing procedures. Dishonest contractors can easily abuse the system."
According to AWS standard D1.1, a contractor can perform welding qualification testing on their own employees as long as they have a written Welding Procedure Specification and an Inspector the company claims is qualified to administer the welding test. The company's Inspector is required to witness workers weld plates of steel together using the specified procedure. The welded plates are then labeled, signed by the company Inspector and sent to a facility where they must be tested before the welder can be certified. AWS accredited facilities require their own third-party certified inspector to be present when workers are welding their test plates as well as oversee the testing of the plates at the testing facility.
Many non-accredited facilities, such as NDT, do not have that requirement.
The issue, according to the WFC, is that without an outside inspector to observe and verify welder testing, the door is open for unscrupulous contractors to falsify the welding of test plates and obtain certifications for individual employees who have not been trained and are not qualified to perform welding services.
The WFC first became aware of the inadequacies of the welding certification process when investigating a number of claims made by workers for Lamar Construction, a Michigan based construction company that has certified many welders through NDT. Many workers said they had never been trained or tested by Lamar for welding certification. The WFC found that Lamar had submitted welding certification documents for some employees who had not even taken the qualification tests, to project owners for which Lamar was contracted to work.
In 2012 Lamar was working on the McCracken County Consolidated High School in Kentucky where a section of the school's gymnasium collapsed during early stages of construction. An investigation over the construction quality and fraud is ongoing. WFC member and former Lamar employee Billy Ellis said, "I was never given a welding qualification test by Lamar, but I worked as a welder for Lamar on the McCracken high school and several other projects." Ellis isn't the only worker with this story. The WFC has been investigating Lamar's welding program for over a year and uncovered numerous falsified welding certifications the company submitted on public projects. According to Ellis, "Lamar provided documents to the general contractor that welders on the project were certified, but many of those certifications were falsified."
"Once we found out Lamar was using alleged falsified welding documents for their workers, we decided we needed to show owners and general contractors just how easy it is for unscrupulous companies like Lamar to get fraudulent welding certifications for their workforce," said Rev. Hawking. "If I were a project owner, I would be very skeptical of any welding certifications that have an NDT stamp on them."
Lamar Construction is currently providing construction services on a number of projects across the country, including Leprino Food's facility and Sky Ridge Medical Center in Colorado, and Mary Free Bed in Michigan.
SOURCE The Worker's Freedom Coalition