Over the years, it has been obvious that new pipeline inspectors lack a certain overall knowledge of the pipeline industry and how to adequately execute their jobs as utility inspectors. We have found that it is not in their desire to be viewed in such a manner but in their lack of access to quality training.
Many clients require some version of on-board training but usually rush the inspectors through the courses in order to satisfy the PHMSA requirement of utilizing "qualified" inspectors. Many use simple 10 - 15 question quizzes to test this knowledge base and, well, it is simply not adequate.
Pipeline construction and integrity inspectors are the eyes and ears of the clients they are contracted to during their projects. The problem of zero REAL utility inspector certification begins to reveal itself within the pipeline inspector's reporting and on the right-of-way. What occurs is the client does receive accurate information to file in their historical database and maintenance records and in the field, the title of "Pipeline Inspector" loses its value.
API has introduced an API 1169 Pipeline Construction Exam for individuals that meet a certain experience requirement but does not address the bold faced issue that there is honestly not enough inspectors or individuals that can satisfy the large "ramp-ups" that some projects encounter to meet dead-lines.
So, what happens to the thousands of inspectors that have been in the industry less than 3 years?
There wasn't any satisfactory training out there for them. The client's on-board training certainly didn't meet the standard. Sure, there are many 3 to 4.5 day "training" classes out there that a 10 year old could pass, but who are we kidding? Do you want to be CERTIFIED AND QUALIFIED or just say that you are? I think we have even seen a "101" class out there that is a sloppy 2 hour video but it does give you a pretty piece of paper to hang on the wall.
We believe that inspectors should study constantly and when they take a class or utility inspector training course it should be thorough, give them time to absorb the information, and challenge them.
You decide for yourself. Start your REAL training today!