Earlier this month, constructionspecifier.com ran an article entitled, “Specifiers Cautioned in Use of Adhesive Anchors,” by Gary Higbee, CSI, AIA, the director of industry development for the Steel Institute of New York (SINY) and former assistant director for technical services with New York State’s Building Codes Division.
Soon after, the publication received a letter from John W. Nehasil, FACI, managing director of certification and chapters for the American Concrete Institute (ACI), who wanted to address what he considered misconceptions in that piece. That letter and the Institute’s response to it, are posted below. They are also available via this link:
From John W. Nehasil, FACI, managing director of certification and chapters for the American Concrete Institute (ACI):
ACI and Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI), with significant participation from concrete anchor manufacturer representatives, began developing the ACI-CRSI Adhesive Anchor Installer (AAI) certification program in 2010 and, under an accelerated schedule, launched the program in June 2011. Creation of a nonproprietary installation guide and accompanying video took place concurrently as the program was being established and those resources became available in 2012. Over the past three-and-a-half years, ACI staff has been engaged in training Sponsoring Groups (SG) to deliver the program in major U.S. population centers. There are now 36 SGs prepared to conduct sessions, representing nearly 500 program administrators.
The most important aspect to understand is ACI does not restrict training in any way. In fact, ACI staff has conducted three train-the-trainer programs for two union groups—notably for the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers at their facilities in Springfield, New Jersey (servicing New York City) and Benicia, California (for the San Francisco/Oakland area).
The industry has been flush with information about the Appendix D requirements of ACI 318, Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete, since the release of the 2011 edition, yet many of the SGs have been forced to cancel sessions due to non-existent enrollment. With apologies to the handful of conscientious, proactive employers ACI has encountered in the SG training sessions, the ‘bottleneck’ thus far has not been the delivery structure for the program as stated by Mr. Higbee, but a lack of urgency on the part of employers impacted by the code requirement to get their installers enrolled in the programs that have been scheduled.
Mr. Higbee suggests “… moratoriums on enforcement and permitting other qualified entities to conduct the certification training” are appropriate responses to mitigate a perceived shortage of certified installers. Early in 2014, the New York City Building Department set a deadline of October 1, 2014 for enforcement of the code requirement for installer certification. Enrollment initially increased, but when the deadline was later postponed to December 31, 2014, employers responded to the new deadline by deferring installer enrollment.
While Mr. Higbee’s article conveys the proper level of urgency, his criticism is misdirected at the providers of the program and places no responsibility on employers to exhibit an appropriate response to this urgency by enrolling their installers in the program, requiring them to read and view the educational materials, and facilitating their attendance at the scheduled sessions adequately prepared.
During 2014, ACI SGs have administered nearly 30,000 ACI exams across 20 programs, with each of the 100-plus SGs scaling their efforts to meet demand for the programs in their geographical areas. The infrastructure necessary to meet the needs of the construction industry is in place, but the SGs cannot service the industry if employers do not send their installers.
I invite Mr. Higbee and Mr. Louis J. Coletti (president/CEO of the Building Trades Employers Association [BTEA] cited in the article) to use their influence and urge employers to contact the ACI SG closest to them to enroll their installers in the program.
Response by Gary Higbee, CSI, AIA, the director of industry development for the Steel Institute of New York (SINY) and former assistant director for technical services with New York State’s Building Codes Division:
Mr. Nehasil is to be commended for ACI’s mobilization efforts since 2011 to train-the-trainers of adhesive anchor installers. However, they have not solved the problem addressed in the article: the testing infrastructure. More importantly, they do not justify placing blame for the problem on industry.
He writes these efforts afforded the industry adequate time to get its workforce certified—a timeline ignoring the fact ACI 318-2011’s release did not automatically trigger a nationwide requirement for installer certification. Despite his contention of industry laxity in New York City, where it does not go into effect until December 31, 2014, proactive employers have been trying to get installers certified since the city brought the requirement to their attention in a May 2014 bulletin. What they encountered was a testing infrastructure so alarmingly inadequate it was essential to develop alternatives.
He states ACI “does not restrict training in any way” but neglects to mention it restricts administration of the test to designated ACI chapters, with New York City’s designee testing only 15 installers a month. To alleviate this bottleneck, a representative for the city’s ironworker training academies reached out to ACI’s certification program development manager last June about permitting them to conduct testing, but was rebuffed. (It is worth noting AWS authorizes the same academies to test and certify ironworkers for what could be perceived as the more challenging skill of structural welding.)
Mr. Nehasil’s conclusion “the infrastructure necessary to meet the needs of the construction industry is in place”—and that urging our employers to contact the ACI sponsoring group nearest will result in the “SGs scaling their efforts to meet demand for the programs”—is unrealistic. Given the substantial disparity between the needs of New York City’s construction industry and the testing capacity of the designated sponsoring group, it should be understandable why both the city and the industry continue to seek remedies.