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AMWU Structural Welding Safety Alert

23 October 2020

As a result of Australian Manufacturing Workers Union or AMWU investigations by union organisers, the Occupational Hazard and Safety Unit, and welding inspectors, the AMWU has alerted companies to serious safety issues related to the performance and management of on-site structural welding which may result in catastrophic structural collapse and cause serious and/or fatal injuries to workers (and other persons) in the vicinity.

These includes poor quality structural welds; an absence of documentation to verify the qualifications or competency of persons performing structural welding works; incomplete welding specifications in the structural engineering documentation; insufficient or lack of necessary welding procedures for welders; and failure to have welds inspected and signed-off by a suitably competent person (e.g. welding inspector) before a structural engineer approves the removal of the temporary structural supports, or the welds are grouted over. In order to fully comply with the necessary protocols, you need to learn more about the AMWU structural welding safety alert.

AMWU Structural Welding Deficiencies Situations

The AMWU have taken into consideration those certain situations where these deficiencies have been identified. These are welding of stitch / fish / connection plates on pre-cast concrete panels; welding of structural steel members to cast in plates (e.g. awnings to a precast panel); and on-site welding of structural steel members. Welds required to resist structural loads or restrain structural elements temporarily are still ‘structural welds’ and need to be managed accordingly. For example, precast panel stitch plates and associated welds designed as temporary restraints to enable the removal of panel bracing prior to casting and curing of concrete floor slabs.

AMWU Structural Welding Safety Alert Risk Management

Relevant duty holders (generally the builder) should ensure that both temporary and permanent works are constructed in accordance with the structural engineer’s or designer’s specifications. In practice, the specifications typically require compliance with Australian Standards AS4100: Steel structures and/or AS/ NZS1554: Structural steel welding in order to meet requirements under the National Construction Code/Building Code of Australia.

These standards specify a quality assurance system to ensure the integrity of the structural welding (including on-site welding). Ensure the system of work associated with on-site structural welding includes the following key aspects of a welding quality assurance system: provision of a welding specification with the structural design; development of a welding procedure by a qualified person and that this is communicated to the welder(s); verification of the qualifications and/or competency of the welder(s) engaged; oversight of the welding works by a qualified welding supervisor; and sign-off of completed welds by a qualified welding inspector as complying with the design.

Where compliance with AS4100 and/or AS/NZS 1554 is not specified in the structural engineer’s or designer’s specifications, an alternative and equivalent quality assurance system to ensure the integrity of the structural welding should be followed and documented. Where site conditions or fabrication errors do not allow for the original design to be followed, an alternative structural solution should be designed and documented by a structural engineer before rectification works are undertaken.

Source

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union . (n.d.). Structural Welding Safety Alert. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from Australian Manufacturing Workers Union : https://www.amwu.org.au/structural_welding_safety_alert

 

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