Pipeline construction inspectors represent the pipeline owner on the construction site. They evaluate worksite activities to ensure that the contractor and workers follow:
- Company specifications and policies
- Government regulations
- Environmental requirements
- Landowner requirements
They have the authority to stop work if conditions or activities pose a danger to a person, property, or the environment.
In general, pipeline construction inspectors:
- Complete required reports including daily inspection reports and weekly progress reports.
- Relay survey and right-of-way information to the construction manager.
- Correct deviations from requirements. For example, they ensure staff wear proper personal protective equipment, and pipe that crosses a watercourse is installed correctly.
- Confirm the contractor’s operators have proper training.
- Assist in preparing incident reports.
- Participate in daily meetings to address issues such as quality, job safety, or environmental concerns.
- Identify lessons learned and participate in sessions to support these lessons.
- Review construction drawings, specifications, conditions, work plans, and procedures.
- Identify materials (i.e. heat numbers, material specifications, joint preparation).
Pipeline construction inspection includes several specializations.
Crossings inspectors are involved when a pipeline construction project crosses the path of a utility or another pipeline. Their understanding of crossing methods help them to ensure that:
- The construction team follows regulations for open excavation crossings.
- The owner company and any third-party owners coordinate activities.
- Workers locating underground facilities use accepted procedures and techniques.
- The construction team uses proper excavation methods when they are near the pipe.
- All features and offsets are located and marked.
- All stakes and flags remain visible for the entire project.
Trenchless crossings inspectors work where the crossing cannot be excavated, such as a river or road. This generally happens during horizontal directional drilling or some form of tunneling such as direct pipe. They ensure that the crossing design satisfies both the drilling company and the owner company. They also:
- Ensure entry and exit locations are safe
- Make sure entry and exit locations meet constraints within crossing agreements and company specifications
- Ensure the direction or angle of the bore has not changed from the intended drill path
- Monitor for drilling mud migration
Earthworks inspectors are also known as craft inspectors. They oversee construction activities during the clearing, grading, ditching, and excavating phases. Earthworks inspectors make sure the team follows proper procedure when they:
- Cut, burn, or remove trees, brush, and debris from the right-of-way
- Prepare and maintain right-of-way accesses
- Locate buried utility lines
- Strip and store topsoil for redistribution after the pipe has been backfilled
- Blast, excavate, and remove rock at grade
Pipe handling inspectors oversee pipe handling activities during construction, which include:
- Stockpiling pipe materials
- Stringing the pipe together
- Bending the pipe
- Lowering the pipe into the ditch
- Inspect and log all materials received
- Ensure pipe joints are properly laid out along the pipeline right-of-way
- Confirm that, when pipes are bent in the field, they are bent within correct limits
- Confirm that no damage occurs to the pipe or the coating
- Inspect operations when lowering the pipe into the trench to avoid damage to the pipe or coating
Coating inspectors monitor adherence to company requirements for pipeline coating. They ensure that:
- The construction team identifies and repairs all pipe-coating damage before they lower the pipe.
- The backfill material is suitable.
- The team places backfill material in the trench in a way that does not damage the pipe or coating.
Welding inspectors oversee welding operations. In general, they:
- Monitor welders’ work to make sure they follow welding-related designs, drawings, and specifications
- Check welders’ qualification records to specific processes
- Confirm that personal protective equipment is in good condition and that welders use it
Pressure testing inspectors carry out pressure testing to confirm that the pipeline has acceptable strength. Before the pipe goes into service, they ensure that it will not leak under operating conditions. To do this, they:
- Check that all required permits, plans, and calculations are approved and in place before testing starts
- Review and confirm that all testing equipment is in good condition before testing starts
- Make sure operations follow the pressure-testing plan
- Ensure appropriate response in the event of a rupture or leak
Environmental inspectors ensure construction activities comply with environmental permits and requirements at all times. They monitor activities such as soil and water erosion, habitat damage, and air, noise and water pollution. They also follow the company’s environmental protection plan (EPP) related to:
- Wetlands, muskeg, and swamp areas
- Wildlife habitats
- Migratory routes
- Archaeological sites
Safety inspectors uphold company and industry standards to ensure safety, minimize risk, and avoid hazards at the work site. They:
- Plan, schedule, and conduct safety meetings
- Promote a safe working environment by communicating project issues and solutions
- Ensure emergency medical services are available and meet requirements
- Make sure all workers follow requirements for use of personal protective equipment
- Enforce a “stop work” order if a safety situation arises
Maintenance inspectors oversee a range of activities on operating pipelines, so their duties overlap with other specializations. In general, they:
- Monitor investigative digs and repairs such as buffing (smoothing the surface)
- Monitor other areas, such as earthworks, welding, and crossings
- Ensure cathodic protection systems are properly installed or upgraded
Chief inspectors are highly skilled and experienced individuals. They understand the inspection requirements for all of the pipeline construction phases. They oversee the specialized pipeline construction inspectors on the job site. Their specific duties vary depending on where they work.