By Ken Fields, CET, CWI

Visual inspection is the most powerful tool in structural steel welding when implementing a robust quality control (QC) and assurance (QA) program. Unfortunately, many involved in the development, procurement, and execution of QA/QC programs do not fully understand what is involved in leveraging visual weld inspection to the greatest extent.

Visual inspection of structural steel welding is often misconstrued as part of non-destructive testing (NDT). In most circumstances, NDT testing of structural steel is done at the end of the fabrication or erection processes. On the other hand, proper visual weld inspection is not just conducted after the welds are complete. A Certified Weld Inspector (CWI) must begin introducing quality control and assurance measures before a weld takes place and continue throughout the welding process rather than starting the inspection process upon project completion.