Recommended Framework for a Bridge Inspection QC/QA Program
23 CFR 650.313(p) Quality Control and Quality Assurance requires each state to assure that systematic Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA) procedures are being used to maintain a high degree of accuracy and consistency in the inspection program. Accuracy and consistency of the data is important since the bridge inspection process is the foundation of the entire bridge management operation and bridge management systems. Information obtained during the inspection is used for determining needed maintenance and repairs, for prioritizing rehabilitations and replacements, for allocating resources, and for evaluating and improving design for new bridges. The accuracy and consistency of the inspection and documentation is vital because it not only impacts programming and funding appropriations, it also affects public safety. Therefore, the FHWA has developed the following recommended framework for a bridge inspection QC/QA program.
- Documentation of QC/QA Program:
- Develop, document, and maintain a bridge inspection manual that contains Quality Control/Quality Assurance (QC/QA) procedures in accordance with this recommended framework.
- Elaborate on the purpose and benefits of the QC/QA program.
- Provide appropriate definitions.
- Quality Control (QC) Procedures
- Define and document QC roles and responsibilities.
- Document qualifications required for Program Manager, Team Leader, Inspection Team Member and Load Rater.
- Document process for tracking how qualifications are met, including:
- Years and type of experience.
- Training completed.
- Document required refresher training, including:
- NHI training courses, other specialized training courses, and/or periodic meetings.
- Define refresher training content, frequency, and method of delivery.
- Document special skills, training, and equipment needs for specific types of inspections.
- Document procedures for review and validation of inspection reports and data.
- Document procedures for identification and resolution of data errors, omissions and/or changes.
- Quality Assurance (QA) Procedures
- Define and document QA roles and responsibilities.
- Document procedures for conducting office and field QA reviews, including:
- Procedures for maintaining, documenting, and sharing review results; including an annual report.
- Establish review frequency parameters. Parameters should include:
- Recommended review frequency for districts/units to be reviewed (e.g. review each district once every 4 years). Or establish number of districts/units to be reviewed annually.
- Recommended number of bridges to review.
- Procedures and sampling parameters for selecting bridges to review. Procedure should consider:
- Whether the bridge is or is not posted.
- Bridge's deficiency status.
- Whether the bridge is programmed for rehab or replacement.
- Whether the bridge has had critical findings and the status of any follow-up action.
- Bridges with unusual changes in condition ratings (e.g. more than 1 appraisal rating change from previous inspection).
- Bridges that require special inspections (underwater, fracture critical, other special).
- Location of bridge.
- Procedures for reviewing current inspection report, bridge file, and load rating.
- Procedures to validate qualifications of inspector and load rater.
- Define "out-of-tolerance" for condition rating and load rating. (e.g. rating of +/- 1 or load ratings that differ by more than 15%)
- Checklists covering typical items to review as part of QA procedures.
- Bridge file.
- Field inspection.
- Load rating analysis.
- Document disqualification procedures for team leaders and consultant inspection firms that have continued record of poor performance.
- Document re-qualification procedures for previously disqualified team leaders and consultant inspection firms that demonstrate they have acceptable performance.
- Document procedures for conducting inspections on a "control" bridge.
- Document procedures to validate the QC procedures.
Relevant references in the NBIS Regulation:
23 CFR 650.305 Definitions.
AASHTO Manual. The term “AASHTO Manual” means the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) “Manual for Bridge Evaluation”, including Interim Revisions, excluding the 3rd paragraph in Article 6B.7.1, incorporated by reference in § 650.317.
Quality assurance (QA). The use of sampling and other measures to assure the adequacy of QC procedures in order to verify or measure the quality level of the entire bridge inspection and load rating program.
Quality control (QC). Procedures that are intended to maintain the quality of a bridge inspection and load rating at or above a specified level.
23 CFR 650.313(p) Quality control and Quality assurance.
- Assure systematic QC and QA procedures identified in Section 1.4, AASHTO Manual (incorporated by reference, see § 650.317) are used to maintain a high degree of accuracy and consistency in the inspection program.
- Document the extent, interval, and responsible party for the review of inspection teams in the field, inspection reports, NBI data, and computations, including scour appraisal and load ratings. QC and QA reviews are to be performed by personnel other than the individual who completed the original report or calculations.
- Perform QC and QA reviews and document the results of the QC and QA process, including the tracking and completion of actions identified in the procedures.
- Address the findings of the QC and QA reviews.
23 CFR 650.317 Incorporation by reference.
Certain material is incorporated by reference (IBR) into this subpart with the approval of the Director of the Federal Register under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. All approved material is available for inspection at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Contact DOT at: U.S. Department of Transportation Library, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590 in Room W12-300, (800) 853-1351, www.ntl.bts.gov/ntl. For information on the availability of this material at NARA email: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to: www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html. The material may be obtained from the following sources:
(a) AASHTO. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, 555 12th Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004; 1-800-231-3475; https://store.transportation.org
- MBE-3. “The Manual for Bridge Evaluation,” Third Edition, 2018; IBR approved for § 650.305 and 650.313.:
- MBE-3-I1-OL. The Manual for Bridge Evaluation, 2019 Interim Revisions [to 2018 Third Edition], copyright 2018; IBR approved for § 650.305 and 650.313.
- MBE-3-I2. The Manual for Bridge Evaluation, 2020 Interim Revisions [to 2018 Third Edition], copyright 2020; IBR approved for § 650.305 and 650.313.