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Re: Accreditation of Inspection Agencies

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Of all the worthless tripe I've seen on this listserv, this is probably the worst.

I have worked for a testing laboratory for the past 9 years.

The point of all of  Sandy's posts are that a firm which is supplying testing and inspection services can have a conflict of interest, especially when they are working directly for the contractor.  Most building codes specify that the "special inspector" will be employed by the owner.  This is routinely ignored in my area, and from the timbre of the post on this subject of late, in other areas of the United States.  In several posts he has indictated that some engineering firms whose primary business is testing have and can provide good inspection services.  However, this conflict of interest is real and can cause problems on projects.

Never confuse testing with inspection.  Testing is the examination of the characteristics of something while inspection is the act of examining something closely (as for mistakes).  Rarely do engineers appreciate this fact, until too late. It is entirely possible for an item to meet the test specifications and not be acceptable, i.e., it has all of the necessary characteristics, but under close examination there are discernible mistakes.

Our firm has had A2LA certification for over 15 years in testing.  We are very proud of this fact.  To achieve this certification requires a ISO14000 program for quality control of and a biannual review of our procedures by A2LA.  The review is a three-four day inspection in which all testing records and procedures are open to the inspector.  He or she can see everything in our work files, laboratory, and ask for specific tests to be performed under his or her observation.  It is a real inspection process.  E329 requires independent accreditation.  A2LA is one of the few agencies which provide this service.

IMHO a firm should be certified or accredited to E329.  It is frequently called out for, yet few commercial construction materials testing laboratories have bothered to become certified.  More unfortunately, few EORs or AORs actually enforce this requirement, although I routinely see this in project specifications. (Don't get me started on specs.  I read one that had the owner, contractor, and engineer responsible for testing services on the same page).  Since I am not familar with DSA or OSHPD can anyone tell me if they certify testing or inspections agencies as meeting the requirement of E329? What do these acronymns mean.?

Dennis, had a good point, always qualify your testing laboratories, and I would add inspection firms, as with all things, there is both good and bad.  (BTW Dennis, the term should be compressive strength test, not compaction).

If you are interested in knowing where I work, our URL is  Please note that this is a private post etc.

Nuff Said.

Arvel L. Williams, P.E.

ParkerSCal wrote:

On 3/25 yet another advertisement for Sandy appeared.  As usual he is thumping
his chest about A2LA accreditation.   Does any jurisdiction recognize it?  Why
don't you get accredited by one that is relevant here in California?  (perhaps
You mentioned the requirement for a staff engineer from ASTM E329.  Why is
this person conspicuously absent from your website?  (Not even a name
I am the Registered Civil Engineer responsible for the organization I work
for.  (I won't mention its name since this forum is not intended to be used
for self-promotion.)
Lies, half-truths, etc. do a disservice to the structural engineering
I am growing weary of the implication that testing laboratories are not
qualified to perform inspection.   Please confine these advertising claims to
your website.  Stop bombarding this board with claims that might be more
appropriate on a late-night infomercial.

James E. Parker, P. E.
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