Discussion points raised during apprentice end-point assessments (EPAs)

I have been involved in more apprentice end-point assessments (EPAs) and it has been an absolute pleasure to see new people coming into the industry. These apprentices have been supported and encouraged by their employers and the knowledge gained has been demonstrated in the project presentations and interviews, along with the supporting portfolios of evidence.

One of the discussion points raised during an EPA concerned the understanding of the smallest indication that could be found and also the largest indication that could be missed by the NDT method. How many of us undertake inspections considering both the smallest indication that we could be finding but also the largest indication that we could be missing? Which is the most important attribute to be considered, or are both equally important? There was also a comparison between different NDT methods and the apprentice was much more aware of the advantages and disadvantages of NDT methods after the project had been concluded. In addition, and not related to the apprenticeship directly, the understanding of probability of detection (POD) curves comes in to consideration. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a 2006 report titled: ‘Research report 454 – Probability of Detection (PoD) curves – Derivation, applications and limitations’, prepared by Jacobi Consulting Limited, which provides more information on POD curves and is available freely on the Internet.

Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves that we are not infallible. The need for checking inspection tasks and for assessing if the practitioner is working competently is necessary and I still come across situations in which the practitioners have not followed procedures and worked in an unethical manner, putting plant, equipment and others at danger. There are certificate holders who have attempted recertification examinations and missed mandatory flaws on the specimens but have great difficulty in believing this is possible. I have investigated some of these results and the marking masters used by the Authorised Qualifying Bodies (AQBs) are typically very accurate with known history on how they have performed for previous candidates. The candidate who raises concerns typically has confidence in their work but has not attended any refresher training. Some of the errors or mistakes could be down to poor reporting or incomplete testing of the specimen, as a flaw or two may have been found, which would have been sufficient at their workplace to scrap the piece, but in the PCN examination all reportable flaws need detecting and reporting in a clear and concise way so the examiner is able to mark the practical accurately. Some candidates think they have a right to see the master report and compare it to their work; however, this is not the case as it is a confidential examination process, not a training session. PCN audits the AQBs and checks the specimens to ensure they are compliant with the requirements issued. PCN AQBs do not want to fail candidates but they do have to give a fair assessment of the material submitted by the candidate on the completion of the examination, so a final check of the report to ensure that all the relevant information has been included can be very valuable.

There is some debate from the revision of ISO 9712 as to what constitutes the main method and what constitutes a technique, which is quite interesting, especially if you consider ultrasonic testing (UT). Which of the following would be classed as the main method and which would be classed as techniques: manual UT, immersion testing, time-of-flight, phased array, guided wave, electromagnetic acoustic transducer, laser ultrasonics, etc? This becomes especially interesting when considering ISO 9712 Level 3 certification. To date there is no definition available, but manual UT is often considered to be the main method and all of the others to be techniques developed from 


Comments by members

This forum post has no comments, be the first to leave a comment.

Submit your comment

You need to log in to submit a Comment. Please click here to log in or register.

<< Back