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October 09, 2012

Like many special inspectors, early in my career I worked for a testing laboratory.  One day I had to go out and perform High Strength Bolt Inspection and Testing.  I performed the testing in the DTI device (Direct Tension Indicator - like a Skidmore) as required by the code, and was directed by the lab engineer to sample some of the bolts and send them into the lab.  I asked where this requirement was at and was told to do so because they have always done this on every project.  Not knowing any better, and trying not to upset anyone, I did what the lab manager told me to do.  After doing this a few times I learned what the requirements of the code really was, it was not a code requirement, it never was…. aside from possibly being an AHJ (Authority Having Jursidiction - OSHPD, DSA, Local Cities and Counties, etc...) specific requirement or a specification requirement there was no reference to do this. 

What is an AHJ requirement?  Some projects I have been on required that any bolts which did not have "Made in the U.S.A." be sampled and destructivley tested.  The City of San Diego is one AHJ that requires this and DSA has a requirement to sample a small amount of bolts which is not in line with the ASTM requirements that the manufacturer (not anyone else but the manufacturer) needs to comply with, this is just something as an AHJ they are allowed to mandate.  Keep in mind if the project requires someone to sample and destructivley test bolts in a lab, then it needs to be spelled out in the "Approved Construction Documents" which is the plans and specs (for DSA this includes the T&I sheet and OSHPD is the TIO program, both of which come with the approved building permit) because this is above and beyond the basic code requirements for identifiable HSB (High strength bolts).   

So what are the basic code requirements?

CBC Section 2212A Testing

2212A.1 Tests of high-strength bolts, nuts and washers.

High-strength bolts, nuts and washers shall be sampled and tested by an approved independent testing laboratory for conformance with the requirements of Section 2205A.

Unfortunately Section 2205A does not say anything about High Strength Bolting, but it does say the following:

2205A.l General.The design, fabrication and erection of structural steel for buildings and structures shall be in accordance with AISC 360.

Section 2204A.2 states the following:

Bolting. The design, installation and inspection of bolts shall be in accordance with the requirements of the specifications listed in Sections 220SA, 2206A, 2209A and 2210A.

Special inspection of the installation of high-strength bolts shall be provided where required by Section 1704.

Chapter 35 Referenced Standards lists the following:

AISC 360-2005 Specification for Structural Steel Buildings .............. 1604.3.3, Table 1704.3, 1704.3.3,2203.1,2203.2,2205.1,2205.3

Out of all of these references, only Table 1704.3/1704A.3 talks about high-strength bolts.

Table 1704A.3

1.     Material verification of high-strength bolts, nuts and washers:

a.     Identification markings to conform to ASTM standards specified in the approved construction documents.

        i.     AISC 360, Section A3.3 and applicable ASTM Material Standards

b.     Manufacturer's certificate of compliance required.

AISC 360 Section A3.3 3.

3. Bolts, Washers and Nuts

Bolt, washer, and nut material conforming to one of the following ASTM specifications is approved for use under this Specification:

(1) Bolts:

     ASTM A307

     ASTM A325

     ASTM A325M

     ASTM A449

     ASTM A490

     ASTM A490M

     ASTM F1852

(2) Nuts:

     ASTM A194/A194M

     ASTM A563

     ASTM A563M

(3) Washers:

     ASTM F436

     ASTM F436M

(4) Compressible-Washer-Type Direct Tension Indicators:

     ASTM F959

     ASTM F959M

Manufacturer’s certification shall constitute sufficient evidence of conformity with the standards.

This part of the code needs to be remphasised:


"Manufacturer’s certification shall constitute sufficient evidence of conformity with the standards."

AISC 360-2005 Section A3.3 Bolts, Washers and Nuts

The ASTM standard specification for A307 bolts covers two grades of fasteners.  Either grade may be used under this Specification; however, it should be noted that Grade B is intended for pipe flange bolting and Grade A is the grade long in use for structural applications.

1704A.3.3 High-strength bolts. Installation of high strength bolts shall be inspected in accordance with AISC 360.

AISC 360-2005

Appendix 5 Evaluation of Existing Structures

Section 5.2.6 6. Bolts and Rivets

Representative samples of bolts shall be inspected to determine markings and classifications. Where bolts cannot be properly identified visually, representative samples shall be removed and tested to determine tensile strength in accordance with ASTM F606 or ASTM F606M and the bolt classified accordingly. Alternatively, the assumption that the bolts are ASTM A307 shall be permitted.

6. Bolts and Rivets

Because connections typically are more reliable than structural members, removal and strength testing of fasteners is not usually necessary. However, strength testing of bolts is required where they cannot be properly identified otherwise.

     I have spoken with many of the larger labs in the state as well as several larger fabricators.  After sampling over 3,000,000 bolts, only 2 bolts have ever failed, this was due to the A490 bolts ended up being too strong.  This is a pretty good record in any industry. 

     Some people say safety first, well I agree with that but we do not wear helmets and seatbelts while we drive our car… safety-first right.  Bottom line is this, some things are overkill, some things are not code, and some things are performed just because nobody asks why are we doing this.  In this case, sampling bolts and sending them into a lab when they are identified properly with material certifications and all other documentation in line are just an extra cost to the owner and delay projects.  Unless the AHJ requires you to take samples and break them in the lab or the project specifications tell you to do so specifically, do the right thing and ask the question, why is someone telling me to do this?  Sampling and breaking bolts does not benefit anyone, except for the one breaking the bolts.  There is at least a .0000006% chance that a HSB will fail (2/3,000,000).  

September 30, 2012

Yesterday’s DSA High Impact Points of Interest seminar was a huge success.  In true CCPCI fashion we requested and received what has never been presented before.  The venue was a very open forum where the attendee’s interacted with the speakers.  The admin code was covered and project specific situations were discussed.  After the CCPCI representative was complete with the warm up part of the seminar to get the creative ideas flowing, in came our DSA representatives.  We had Howard “Chip” Smith (former State Architect, licensed Architect and Structural Engineer), Eric France (DSA’s LEA Program Manager) and Craig Rush (Regional Manager of the San Diego office and Structural Engineer).  We had a lineup, which has never been put together prior to these seminars in September.  This was was an effective lineup able to cover issues that affect everyone every day. 

They were able to address many issues that I cannot list at this time, but I will hit the highlights.  Eric France was able to speak on behalf of the approved testing laboratories program and what is expected of them.  Some of the items were:

·      Special Inspectors (SI) will work for either an LEA approved Materials Testing Lab (MTL) or they can be contracted directly with the school district.

·      If the SI works for the MTL then the design professional of record has no say in that special inspector’s approval or disapproval on their project.  If the lab approves them then they get to work on the job.

·      If the SI does not perform his/her duties adequately or competently then the responsible engineer at the lab is to be contacted and they should fix the issue, if they do not, then DSA is to be contacted and they will have them fix it. 

·      There is no way to currently track the SI’s, specifically if the lab has one who is not performing their duties, they could remove him/her from the project which has discovered incompetence and place them on another DSA project instantly.  There is a lot of trust being placed in the hands of the labs engineer.

·      The MTL engineer is responsible for the reporting of the SI’s and everything they do.   What does this mean, well the lab could loose their certification if the SI’s do not perform their duties in a proper manner.  If the lab continually sends out one SI after another then there is an obvious breakdown in the leadership and at this point DSA “could” remove their DSA LEA approval if they deem necessary.  So this is not a loss cause, it just takes people who are assertive to help enforce and report these things to DSA.

·      If a SI does not work for the MTL they can be contracted directly with the school board, individually not as a company providing SI.  The performance of the SI’s is monitored by the design professional of record (DPOR) as it is all other jurisdictions. 

So the difference here is the SI is reporting and their work is being signed off by the engineer at their company who has a vested interest that all of their reports are acceptable so they get paid or at least so that they have approved reports they were already paid for, but if it is discovered that the engineer is just approving things and they are not adequate or code compliant they can be at risk of loosing their companies LEA approval.  Who can report this to DSA…?  Anyone can report to the DSA.  Who do I report things to at DSA…?  The DSA assigned DSE (District Structural Engineer) for that project.  If you get no action from here, go to the Regional Manager.

Chip Smith, some of the highlights he pointed out were:

·      DSA Project Inspectors may work for themselves individually or they may work for a firm whose sole purpose in that district is providing DSA PI services.  In other words you cannot be a CM firm on one project in the district and supply DSA PI services on another project in the same district.  You cannot be a MTL and provide special inspection and materials testing on one project in the district and perform DSA PI services on another. 

·      You can be the DSA approved PI and you can perform special inspections if you are qualified, certified and approved to do so on that project.

·      If there seem errors in the approved construction documents do you write a deviation?  No, deviations are for deviations, which are not constructed in accordance with the approved plans and specs.  The code requires the DSA PI to report or point out the seeming errors to the DPOR and they can give direction and bring it up with the DSE if need be a materially altering change to the documents.  You never write a DPOR a deviation that is not how the code works.

·      Structural steel shop drawings vs. the approved plans.  It is acknowledged that the shop drawings are sometimes more detailed than the approved plans and it is hard to try and coordinate this beam and that column where it goes on and approved plan from a shop drawing.  The intent is to use the approved plans for their details and for member sizes.  Compare the shop drawings to the approved details and approved member sizes, so you WILL have both documents in the shop.  Keep in mind the approved shop drawings need the designers review stamp on it and the approved plans need the DSA approved stamp on it.

Craig Rush, once again there are so many things which were discussed that I can not post them all in this article, you will have to attend the next CCPCI venue to hear it for yourself.

·      Can the DSA PI use the IR manual?  No, it is a tool for the DPOR to use in their design that is it.  We were told of a DSA PI bringing out the IR manual at a preconstruction meeting stating you shall do this like this and that like that.  A few issues here, first the DSA PI should not and can not direct the work, secondly the designer needs to give direction if they want they can submit and use the IR manual but it is not necessary nor the only way to do things. 

·      If you have no approved plans on the project, no start of construction notice or no approved building permit then DSA will issue a work stop order.  If it is discovered that this is taking place and the DSA PI has not said anything… well this is not going to look too good on behalf of the inspector if they did not notify DSA.

All in all we had a great time at the seminar and got it straight from DSA.  There was much more discussed and everyone walked away feeling like they got something they never have from a DSA seminar.  Everyone was grateful for the opportunity and we can see that DSA is evolving (retooling as Chip mentioned), and we all felt like we were a part of the DSA team. 

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