ISO 9712 responsibilities

It has recently become apparent that employers are not fully understanding their responsibilities as listed in ISO 9712.

Section 5.2 of ISO 9712 features guidelines for employers. 5.2.5 states: ‘In respect of certified personnel under their control, the employer shall be responsible for: (a) all that concerns the authorisation to operate, ie providing job-specific training (if necessary); (b) issuing the written authorisation to operate;  and (c) the results of NDT operations’. It is recommended that these responsibilities be described in a documented  procedure.

When asked if the above requirements had been met, one employer dismissed the need to comply as the person had only been employed on a short-term contract. There is no exemption for employees on short-term contracts, as these are the people who require the job-specific training and access to the company’s procedures and instructions specific to the task that they are being asked to undertake. There was no evidence that the employer had issued a written authorisation to operate and the employer did not seem to accept that it was responsible for the results of NDT operations. 

ISO 9712 also states that: ‘Certification to this international standard provides an attestation of general competence of the NDT operator. It does not represent an authorisation to operate, since this remains the responsibility of the employer, and certified employees may require additional specialised knowledge of parameters such as equipment, NDT procedures, materials and products specific for the employer. Where required by regulatory requirements and codes, the authorisation to operate shall be given in writing by the employer in accordance with a quality procedure that defines any employer-required job-specific training and examinations designed to verify the certificate holder’s knowledge of relevant industry code(s), standard(s), NDT procedures, equipment and acceptance criteria for the tested products’. This again emphasises the employer’s responsibilities. There are some employers that fully embrace their duties, providing specific training to the NDT operator, and there are others that have failed to do so. One of the European certification scheme managers related a situation in which the employer failed to follow the requirements and sent an operator to perform an NDT task that they had no prior knowledge of. As a result, a defect was missed and there were fatalities. It is believed that the directors of the employer are currently serving a long custodial jail sentence.

6.3 of the standard covers the duties of the Level 3: ‘Level 3 personnel may be authorised to: (a) assume full responsibility for a test facility or examination centre and staff; (b) establish, review for editorial and technical correctness, and validate NDT instructions and procedures; (c) interpret standards, codes, specifications and procedures; (d) designate the particular test methods, procedures and NDT instructions to be used; (e) carry out and supervise all tasks at all levels; and (f) provide guidance for NDT personnel at all levels’. Again, there are employers that employ Level 3 staff whose role encompasses the tasks listed, but there are other employers who do not.

If you are an employer, are you meeting the responsibilities listed in ISO 9712? As an employee, is your company following the requirements as given in ISO 9712? If you are the company Level 3, are you authorised to follow the tasks listed in 6.3? If things go wrong, it will be the employer that will be answerable in accordance with ISO 9712; does your employer need reminding of this?

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