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Without Careful Inspection, High-Mast Luminaires Outdoor Stadium Light Poles Are At Risk of Falling

GRAND RAPIDS, MI; WOODSTOCK, AL; and NEWTOWN, CT/October 8, 2009 - Some outdoor stadium light poles might have a defect so crippling it can topple the entire structure to the ground. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a qualified inspector should examine all high-mast luminaires for visible signs of cracking, fracture or deterioration.

In August, the CPSC issued an advisory about outdoor steel stadium light poles after nine in Texas fell and 50 developed fractures and/or cracks. The problem was so persistent the CPSC is now investigating a variety of manufacturers’ light poles. In response, two wholly owned subsidiary of TUV Rheinland North America Holding Company called Non-Destructive Testing Services, Inc. (NDTS) and Unified Testing Services, Inc. (UTS) are reminding facility managers that visual examination of the outdoor structure is not enough to catch potentially fatal flaws.

“The high-mast luminaire, if overlooked, can become a loaded gun but many of the issues cannot be found with the naked eye,” said Donald Uptain, president of Unified Testing Services, Inc., a full-service testing and consulting engineering firm headquartered in Woodstock, Ala. “A thorough safety inspection and testing program should be established for these types of structures. Even brand new, they could have serious flaws that had been introduced during the manufacturing, welding or anchoring stages. Specialized testing equipment will catch those issues.”

High-mast luminaires are commonly found lining the nation’s highways and roadways, providing light once the sun sets. Outdoor stadium light poles, also known as high-mast luminaires, are usually found in facilities such as recreational parks and fields, parking lots, outdoor stadiums, high schools and colleges, and prisons. These towers usually withstand years of abuse from the environment. But wind can fatigue the entire structure from the anchor bolts to the vertical welds, and moisture from rain and snow can contribute to corrosion. In some cases, improper installation can result in a tilted pole or loose screw plates.

“The safety of an outdoor structure can be compromised by either environmental conditions or human error,” said Bob Bills, president of Non-Destructive Testing Services, Inc., a full-service material inspection company headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich. “In worst-case scenarios, structural or construction flaws can cause serious injuries or even death to bystanders. Safety inspection and testing along with periodic assessments can help minimize those potential dangers.”

NDTS and UTS provide inspection services for high-mast luminaires using qualified/certified personnel and specialized ultrasonic testing equipment. Inspectors are certified to the requirements of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) recommend practice SNT-TC-1A. Pole inspections follow written guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) ‘Procedure for the Inspection of High-Mast Luminaires.’”

Services consist of certified welding inspectors and NDT technicians inspecting the general structure including the welded and bolted connections, and utilizing liquid penetrant, magnetic particle, and ultrasonic testing for cracks. Additionally, a thorough visual examination of the pole base is offered along with testing of the nuts to the anchor base.

For more information about the High-Mast Luminaires Inspection Program at UTS, call 1-TUV-RHEINLAND (888-743-4652).

About TÜVRheinland®

TÜVRheinland® delivers premier independent testing, assessment, and certification services to help companies gain access into global markets. Boasting an international network across six continents, the company’s in-country experts ease the path to compliance with cost-effective pricing and quick turnaround times. The $1.5 billion corporation is comprised of an international network of more than 13,000 employees in 62 countries and serves most industry sectors and markets worldwide.

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