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Section 2: Quality Control

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Program Personnel Qualifications

An effective program begins with adequately qualified personnel. The National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) are very specific about the qualifications of the personnel involved in a bridge inspection program. The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 23, part 650, Subpart C, section 650.309, (23 CFR 650.309) lists the qualifications of personnel. Personnel in the Bridge Division, District and working for the Consultants will have different qualifications based on the job duties they perform.

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Bridge Division

The Bridge Division is not only responsible for managing the bridge inspection program, but also performs underwater and fractures critical inspections, as well as routine inspections at the Districts' request. The division also performs special and in-depth inspections as well as performs load ratings. The roles for these actions are different depending on what is needed, but each must meet the qualifications as described in the Federal Code. TxDOT requires all program managers and team leaders to attend a mandatory refresher course every four years, NHI Course No. 130053. This course is designed to: refresh the skills of practicing bridge inspectors in fundamental visual inspection techniques; review the engineering background detailing how bridge structures function; review proper condition and appraisal rating practices; communicate issues of national significance relative to the nation's bridge infrastructures; and review the professional obligations of the bridge inspectors. It is recommended for succession planning and program continuity, that all personnel associated with the bridge inspection office attend an FHWA approved comprehensive bridge inspection training course, as well as take the refresher course every four years.

Program Manager – Pursuant to the Federal Code, each state transportation department must designate an individual who meets the qualifications of Program Manager as described in the Federal Code of Regulations to oversee the Bridge Inspection Program for the State. This individual is responsible for the statewide bridge inspection policies and procedures, quality assurance and quality control, preparation and maintenance of a bridge inventory, bridge inspections, reports, load ratings and other requirements found in the Federal Code. The Bridge Division must ensure that the individual overseeing the Bridge Inspection Program for the State meets the qualifications of Program Manager as described in the Federal Code.

Underwater Inspections – Pursuant to the Federal Code, at least one Team Leader, who meets the qualifications of Team Leader as described in the Federal Code, must be present at each underwater inspection. In addition to the Team Leader requirements, the Federal Code requires that individuals performing underwater inspections meet certain requirements. The Bridge Division ensures that the individuals performing underwater inspections meet these requirements.

Fracture Critical Inspections – Pursuant to the Federal Code, at least one Team Leader, who meets the qualifications of Team Leader as described in the Federal Code, must be present at each fracture critical inspection. The Bridge Division requires that the Program Manager and Team Leaders take a fracture critical inspection course, NHI Course No. 130078, in addition to the other federal requirements for these positions. The Bridge Division ensures that the individual performinig fracture critical inspections for the Division meets the requirements of the Federal Code.

Other Inspections – Pursuant to the Federal Code, at least one Team Leader, who meets the qualifications of Team Leader as described in the Federal Code, must be present at each initial, routine and in-depth inspection. The Bridge Division ensures that the individual performing other inspections meets the requirements of the Federal Code.

Load Rating Engineer – Pursuant to the Federal Code, the individual charged with the overall responsibility for load rating bridges must be a registered professional engineer. The Bridge Division ensures that the individual who performs load ratings for the Division meets the requirements of the Federal Code.

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Districts

District Personnel – The personnel in the districts manage the inspection work of the consultant by assigning work, reviewing the work performed and ensuring that the work is updated to the data base. In addition, district personnel may perform initial, routine and special inspections. The individual reviewing the work of the consultants and/or the individual performing an initial, routine or other bridge inspections should meet the requirements of Team Leader as described in the Federal Code. All team leaders are required to attend a mandatory refresher course every four years, NHI Course No. 130053 mentioned above.

Consultant Oversight – The individual responsible for the assignment and review of the work of the consultants should meet the qualifications of Team Leader as described in the Federal Code. This individual is responsible for ensuring that inspections are performed correctly and that the information supplied by the consultant accurately reflects the condition of the structures being inspected. Oversight involves reviewing inspection documentation submitted by consulting firms, reviewing qualifications of inspection personnel operating in the district, and field reviews of bridges that were inspected.

Performing Inspections – The districts can be responsible for performing bridge inspections such as initial inspections, inspections after extreme events and inspections to bridges after repairs have been made. The individual performing these inspections must meet the requirements of Team Leader as described in the Federal Code. When district personnel perform routine inspections, documentation should be consistent with the “Services to Be Provided” in the most recent active statewide bridge inspection contracts.

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Consultants

The Consultants are responsible for performing bridge inspections and providing documentation to the State. There are two main roles for the consultant work force. Depending on the size of the firm, these roles may be held by the same individual performing the different roles as the circumstances dictate. A larger firm may have individuals dedicated to the separate roles. The individuals performing these roles must meet the qualifications as described in the Federal Code. All program managers and team leaders are required to attend a mandatory refresher course every four years, NHI Course No. 130053 mentioned above.

Project Manager – Each firm must have an individual designated as Project Manager. The Project Manager manages the work of their firm and the sub-consultants who work for them. The Project Manager coordinates with the State to perform bridge inspections as described in the "Services to Be Provided" in the contract. The Project Manager ensures the quality of the data and that the data is submitted in a timely manner. The Project Manger oversees the work of the Team Leaders and inspectors working directly for their firm, as well as oversees the work of the sub-consultants who perform work for the Project Manager's firm. The firm's Project Manager must meet the qualifications of Program Manager as described in the Federal Code.

Team Leader – Pursuant to the Federal Code, at least one individual who meets the qualifications of Team Leader must be present at each bridge inspection. The consulting firm must ensure that a Team Leader who works for their firm or for a sub-consultant is present at each bridge inspection.

Fracture Critical Inspections – Pursuant to the Federal Code, at least one Team Leader, who meets the qualifications of Team Leader as described in the Federal Code, must be present at each fracture critical inspection. The Bridge Division requires the Program Manager and Team Leaders for each firm under contract to perform fracture critical inspections to take a fracture critical inspection course, NHI Course No. 130078, in addition to the other federal requirements for these positions.

Underwater Inspections – Pursuant to the Federal Code, at least one Team Leader, who meets the qualifications of Team Leader as described in the Federal Code, must be present at each underwater inspection. In addition to the Team Leader requirements, the Federal Code requires that individuals performing underwater inspections meet certain requirements. The Bridge Division ensures that the individuals performing underwater inspections meet these requirements.

Load Rating Engineer – Pursuant to the Federal Code, each inspection contract requires the individual charged with the overall responsibility for load rating bridges to be a registered professional engineer.

Record of Personnel Qualifications – The Bridge Division will keep a list of approved Project Managers and Team Leaders for firms under contract as part of providing statewide bridge inspection services. The Bridge Division will also maintain records documenting qualifications and training of individuals approved as Project Managers and Team Leaders. It is the responsibility of the Engineer in charge of the bridge inspection unit, whether district or consultant forces, to provide information updates to the Inspection Office of the Bridge Division whenever there is a change in personnel or other items affecting personnel qualifications. The file will include each person's job description, education, professional registration or certifications, years and type of bridge inspection experience, bridge inspection training completed, and any special technical courses. Attachment 1 is an example of the form that can be used to document personnel qualifications.

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Review Procedures

In addition to these programmatic requirements, the Quality Control program defines specific procedures for the review and validation of inspection reports and data. The TxDOT Bridge Inspection Manual requires Districts to review consultant submissions of office work and field work.

Documentation is one of the most important elements of an effective quality control program. Thoroughly document all review activities. Keep together one copy (either electronic or paper) of the documentation of all office and field reviews together, clearly marked as the review of a specific submission for later access or review by a Quality Assurance team, auditor, or FHWA reviewer.

Office Review - Review a minimum of 10% of the submitted folders and reports for legibility, accuracy, completeness and uniformity. Specific information is required for the bridge folders. A detailed list can be found in Chapter 8 of this manual. Randomly select the sample review folders, as it is the inspector and his process that are being reviewed, not the bridges. Random selection ensures that folders for smaller culverts are reviewed as well as folders for larger structures, structures of different superstructure types, and structures of differing materials. Include thorough documentation of this review process, a list of the folders reviewed and a checklist for each folder reviewed. Attachment 2 is an example of a folder review log and checklist form that can be used. This is a very detailed checklist. Make every effort to do a substantive review of the folder, instead of a simple visual check of the folder contents

Field Review - The field review consists of two activities that comprise a total of at least 7% of the consultant submission. First, co-inspect a minimum of 2% of the submission with the consultant inspection team to verify and document the inspection team members, their qualifications, and review their inspection processes. Scheduling the sampling of this activity is dependent on the consultant availability. It is not a review of the bridge, but of the consultant inspection team. Attachment 3 is an example of the documentation required for these co-inspections.

Second, perform an independent, on site re-inspection of at least 5% of the consultant submission. Take copies of submitted inspections to the bridge site. Independently complete all condition and appraisal ratings, and reviews other items for correctness. Prepare specific notes of changed conditions or significant differences from the last inspection. Prepare documentation of the bridges inspected and findings on forms similar to those in Attachment 4.

Choose the bridges to be independently re-inspected with care. This is an opportunity to make in-depth site visits to a sample of bridges in the District. Some of the criteria for bridge selection for review include but are not limited to:

  • New bridges
  • Bridges already on a reduced inspection frequency
  • Bridges recommended for load posting
  • Bridges with a significant change in the condition ratings
  • Bridges with critical findings or recommended significant maintenance
  • Different types of bridges and culverts
  • Bridges not on the last QC review list

The procedures above also apply to review procedures utilized by districts reviewing inspections conducted by in-house forces.


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