Consequences of failure and the risk to life and the environment…

With regards to NDT, what I mean by the consequences of failure and the risk to life and the environment is the failure to carry out the NDT inspection properly, which may lead to unacceptable defects being left in operational plant or structures.

As well as skills and knowledge, other important aspects affecting the inspection outcome are human factors and behaviours. The ‘Employer’s Unit of Competence – Management of human factors (behaviours)’ document, which is available on the BINDT website (see, states that the key generic requirements are:
  • Those expected of any employee
  • Those required by the BINDT Code of Conduct
  • Specific knowledge of the application of human factors, which can positively or negatively impact the reliability of the NDT performed
  • Company Code of Conduct.

So, in terms of the apprenticeships, what are these behaviours that are so important? Each apprenticeship has its own list, but here is a selection:
  • Courage – willing to make independent decisions and be respected and understood when doing so.
  • Respect – having respect for the abilities of others, particularly those working under your direction.
  • Compassion – having empathy for the predicaments of others, particularly junior staff.
  • Ethics – acting with reliability, integrity and respect for confidentiality on work and personal matters in accordance with professional codes of conduct and ethical principles.
  • Environmental awareness – undertaking safe working practices for self, others and the environment.
  • Personal responsibility – taking responsibility as an individual and as a team member.
  • Communication – communicating effectively with senior NDT staff, such as NDT Engineering Technicians, in order to facilitate timely and accurate completion of the inspection programmes.
  • Compliance – acting with compliance by following rules, procedures and principles to ensure work completed is fit for purpose, paying attention to detail and carrying out verification checks throughout work activities.

Behaviours are as important as knowledge and skills, so it is vital they are treated as a learning outcome that must be achieved.

So, back to the consequences of failure and the risk to life and the environment. Many industries use components, materials and plant items, which, when operational, are subject to immense stresses and risk. Here, the likelihood of failure is high. To mitigate the risk when justifying continued operation, extensive NDT is carried out, which helps to make the necessary operational safety case. The consequences of failure could result in the loss of life, an adverse environmental impact and commercial penalties. Very often, the results of NDT inspections are not rechecked and are taken at face value; therefore, it is essential that the NDT results are correct and that the NDT Operators, Engineering Technicians and Engineers are fully aware of the importance and the impact of their role.
We have a duty to protect the public and get it right first time.

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