SSPC QP PROGRAMS

Click the Links Below to Find Out More About Each QP Program.

SSPC-QP 1, FIELD APPLICATION TO COMPLEX INDUSTRIAL AND MARINE STRUCTURES

SSPC-QP 1 certification is an internationally recognized program that evaluates the practices of industrial painting contractors in key areas of business. These standards are considered the minimum level of service and quality for today’s coatings industry. The complex nature of coating systems and the specific surface preparations required for these systems have made the QP 1 guidelines vital to the longevity of applied protective coatings. Click to purchase the QP 1 standard

The program is designed to provide facility owners and specification writers a means to determine whether the painting contractor has the capability to perform surface preparations and coating application in the field on complex industrial and marine structures, such as:

  • Bridges
  • Food and beverage facilities
  • Off-shore drilling
  • Power generation facilities
  • Petro / chemical plants
  • Storage tanks
  • Ships maintenance
  • Wastewater treatment facilities

To be certified by SSPC, industrial contractors must demonstrate competence in these key areas:

  • Management procedures
  • Quality control
  • Safety, health and environmental compliance

Technical capabilities

These areas are evaluated through a series of submittals to SSPC describing the contractor’s business operations. Then, an impartial on-site audit of a representative active job-site and headquarter offices is performed to verify that the programs and practices are implemented and used. The on-site audit criteria can be found in both the QP 1 application and the Internal Audit Checklist. SSPC suggests the contractor perform an internal audit using the checklist to be sure all areas of evaluation are addressed prior to an audit.

Additional information and forms can be found on the QP forms page such as:

  • Applications / Program Rules for Certification
  • Audit Checklist
  • Auditor Evaluation Survey
  • Contractor Performance Form
  • Disciplinary Action Criteria (DAC)
  • Job Notification Form
  • List of Owners Known to Require Certified Contractors
  • Certification News Center
  • Technical Standards Library Requirements

CAS for QP 1 contractors

SSPC established the Coating Application Specialist (CAS) Certification Program for industrial painters in 2008 in order to strengthen the qualifications of the current workforce and lay the groundwork for development of a strong industrial painter work force for the decades to follow. For more information about CAS for QP 1 Contractors visit  sspc.org/ap-cas-qp1.

QP 1 background

The QP 1 certification was originally organized to answer an industry need voiced by contractors, owners and others who hire industrial painting contractors. At that time, the industry did not have a national standard to evaluate the primary capability of a contractor prior to a contract award. SSPC issued the first version of the QP 1 standard in September 1989, with the certification program being released later that same year. Since that time, the QP 1 contractor certification program has been consistently reviewed and improved to meet the changing quality needs of our industry. Significant QP 1 changes are made by consensus and approved by the SSPC Standards Review Committee and the SSPC Board of Governors.

SSPC-QP 2, FIELD REMOVAL OF HAZARDOUS COATINGS

The SSPC-QP 2 certification is a nationally-recognized program that evaluates the capabilities of industrial/marine paint contractors on their ability to safely remove and properly manage hazardous coating material in the field. These standards are defined as the minimum level of service and quality.

The program is designed to provide facility owners and specification writers a means to determine whether the painting contractor has the capability to perform surface preparation and coating application of hazardous material in the field on complex industrial and marine structures, such as:

  • Bridges
  • Food and beverage facilities
  • Off-shore drilling
  • Power generation facilities
  • Petro / chemical plants
  • Storage tanks
  • Ships maintenance
  • Wastewater treatment facilities

QP 2 builds on the standards and guidelines of QP 1 to further qualify the industrial contracting company in hazardous paint removal operations. Since QP 1 certification is a prerequisite for QP 2, certification for both can be completed at the same time. Purchase the QP 2 standard here.

Program Requirements

To be certified by SSPC, industrial contractors must demonstrate competence in these key areas:

  • Management of hazardous paint removal projects
  • Technical capabilities related to hazardous paint removal
  • Personnel qualifications and training
  • Safety and environmental compliance programs

The evaluation process

The QP 2 evaluation process is the same as QP 1, but the active job site must be a hazardous paint removal project with all protective measures in place and functioning.

Similar to QP 1, the QP 2 program guidelines are first evaluated through the required submittals that describe the contractor’s procedures, practices, and programs. Then an SSPC auditor performs an impartial active job site audit to verify the use of the submitted practices and programs.

The on-site audit criteria can be found in both the QP 2 Application and the Internal Audit Checklist that can be found on the QP Forms page.

SSPC suggests that the contractor perform a self-evaluation prior to submitting an application or scheduling the audit.

QP 2 background

QP 2 was developed by consensus to meet the industry’s need for better management and control on projects involving the removal of hazardous paint from structural steel in the field. The QP 2 standard and certification were designed to build on the guidelines established in QP1, and provide facility owners with a means to evaluate the primary capability of industrial paint contractors specific to the needs of hazardous paint removal projects. This expansion program was first released in 1993.

SSPC-QP 3, SHOP PAINTING CERTIFICATION PROGRAM

The requirements for SSPC-QP 3 are similar to those for SSPC-QP 1, except they are specifically focused on shop coating operations. SSPC QP 3 is an internationally recognized program that evaluates the practices of shop painting facilities in key areas of business. These standards are considered to be the MINIMUM level of service and quality for today’s coatings industry. The complex nature of coating systems, the specific conditions and surface preparation required by these systems, have made the QP 3 guidelines vital to the longevity of protective coatings applied in the shop.

Purchase the QP 3 standard here.

QP 3 is segmented according to the type of shop:

  • Enclosed Shop – A permanent facility, enclosure or building (four walls to grade and a roof) where surface preparation and coating activities are normally conducted in an environment not subject to outdoor weather conditions and/or blowing dust.
  • Covered Shop – A permanent facility, enclosure or building having a roof beneath where surface preparation and coating activities are normally conducted out of direct exposure to outdoor weather.
  • Open Shop – A permanent area or facility with no roof or walls where surface preparation and coating activities are normally conducted. The area or facility is exposed to outdoor weather conditions and blowing dust.

To be certified by SSPC to QP 3, blast and coat shops must demonstrate competence in several key areas:

  • Management Procedures
  • Management Responsibility
  • Technical Capabilities
  • Quality Control
  • Health, Safety and Environmental Compliance
  • Contract and project specification review
  • Document and data control
  • Control of quality records
  • Purchasing
  • Process control
  • Inspection and testing
  • M&TE

Blast and coat shops are evaluated through a series of submittals to SSPC, which describe business operations. Then an impartial, on-site audit is performed at the contractor’s headquarters and shop locations to verify the information provided in the application submittals.

More on-site audit information can be found in both the QP 3 Application and the Internal Audit Checklist. SSPC suggests that the shop perform a self-evaluation using the checklist to be sure all areas are addressed prior to an audit.

This joint standard for certification of paint shops merges the requirements of the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Sophisticated Paint Endorsement (SPE) and the SSPC-QP 3 standard into a single qualification standard that is used by both organizations.

Each organization will continue to manage its own qualification program, auditing shops against the joint standard and using the same audit criteria. AISC will certify shops currently qualified as AISC Certified fabrication or manufacturing facilities. SSPC will certify all other paint shop facilities.

Owners should be aware that SSPC and AISC signed a Memorandum of Understanding in June 2016 to continue joint development and use of AISC-420-10/SPE-SSPC-QP 3 Certification Standard for Shop Application of Complex Protective Systems.

Additional information and forms can be found on the QP forms page such as:

  • Applications / Program Rules for QP 3 certification
  • QP 3 audit checklist
  • Certification maintenance applications
  • CAP (Corrective Action Form)
  • Control of non-conformities & corrective action
  • DAC

SSPC-QP 5, CERTIFICATION FOR COATING AND LINING INSPECTION COMPANIES

SSPC-QP 5 is a certification program for inspection companies that focuses on the industrial coating and lining industry. QP 5 evaluates an inspection company’s ability to provide consistent quality inspection of coatings and linings for its clients.

Purchase the QP 5 standard here.

On a fundamental level, QP 5 provides support to both the owner and inspection company by requiring checks and balances that ensure a high level of quality inspection regardless of which individual inspector is working the job site. This level of quality is accomplished by inspection service providers adopting quality programs that include accountability, regular maintenance training for inspectors, quality and procedural standards and corporate internal auditing of inspection records.

Consistency and accountability at all levels of the inspection service let owners know that their project is not just being inspected, it is also reviewed and supported by the inspection company itself. Both owners and inspection companies have realized that QP 5 fits perfectly where there was once a gaping hole.

To be certified to QP 5, coating and lining inspection companies must demonstrate company standards in these key areas:

  • Management procedure
  • Established inspection practice
  • Systems of quality control
  • Internal audit and review procedures
  • Standards for qualifying and training personnel
  • Policy for review and resolution of complaints

These areas are evaluated first in the form of submittals at the time of application, then confirmed through an impartial on-site audit at the headquarter offices of the coatings and lining inspection company.

The on-site audit criteria can be found in both the QP 5 application and the Self-evaluation Checklist. SSPC strongly advises using the checklist to be sure all areas are addressed prior to the on-site audit.

QP 5 Background

The QP 5 standard was approved in 1999 and released in September 2001. The current program is based on the 2012 revision of the QP 5 standard. QP 5 is based on criteria established in the standard, SSPC-QP 5 “Standard Procedure for Evaluating the Qualifications of Coating and Lining Inspection Companies,” which is part of SSPC Qualification Procedure Standards developed through the SSPC consensus process. Visit our Standards Store to purchase a copy.

Click on the link below to read about the QP 5 DAC.

SSPC-QP 6, CONTRACTOR METALLIZING CERTIFICATION

SSPC-QP 6 Certification is to be used by facility owners or their protective coating specialists or specifying engineers to ensure that contractors hired to perform metallizing work to protect bridge, industrial or marine structures, or miscellaneous metal parts have the primary technical capabilities and organizational structure to do the work. Purchase the QP 6 standard here.

The QP 6 program evaluates the qualifications of industrial thermal spray (metallizing) contractors by evaluating the contracting firm annually through an on-site field audit where an independent SSPC auditor observes whether the contractor has the capability to evaluate and accept the preparation of the surface to be metallized and to thermally spray:

  1. Coatings of aluminum, zinc, and their alloys for corrosion protection of steel and/or
  2. Zinc anodes on steel reinforced concrete, in accordance with the quality and safety requirements of SSPC-QP 6

Contractors can achieve QP 6 certification for steel, concrete, or both.

Unless otherwise specified, SSPC-QP 6 requires the contractor to be SSPC-QP 1 certified for field surface preparation and coating application, or SSPC QP 3 certified for shop surface preparation and coating application, to supplement the requirements of this procedure.

Additional information and forms can be found on the QP forms page such as:

  • Applications for Certification / Program Rules
  • Audit Checklist
  • Auditor Evaluation Survey
  • Contractor Performance Form
  • DAC
  • Job Notification Form
  • List of Owners Known to Require Certified Contractors
  • Certification News Center
  • Technical Standards Library Requirements

SSPC-QP 7, PAINTING CONTRACTOR INTRODUCTORY PROGRAM

SSPC developed the Painting Contractor Introductory Program to verify the capabilities of contractors with less than 12 months experience performing industrial, marine or architectural surface preparation and coating application in the field.

The QP 7 Introductory Program provides an initial step for contractors who currently do not have the experience required to apply for QP certification but who wish to eventually achieve it.

Purchase the QP 7 standard here.

The program’s objective is to determine if a painting contractor has the personnel, organization, qualifications, procedures, knowledge and capability to produce quality surface preparation and coating application on industrial, marine, or commercial / institutional structures. For the purposes of the Introductory Program, eligible structures are defined as those identified in the appropriate QP standard.

Please note that the SSPC-QP 7 Contractor Introductory Program does not involve inspection of the contractor’s coating work or training of its personnel. It does not cover coating application capability conducted exclusively at a contractor’s fixed facility (i.e. shop painting). Finally, the program is not intended to guarantee the quality or safety performance of a specific contractor on any of its projects. Rather, it is intended to assist facility owners in their evaluation of painting contractors with less than 12 months experience as an organization. The procedure is intended only for public works projects set aside by owners willing to hire contractors that meet the requirements of this procedure.

While SSPC-QP 7 confirms a company’s capability, on paper, to perform industrial, marine or commercial painting, owners, specifiers and general contractors are encouraged to also assess the painting contractor’s financial ability to perform a job as well as to review any work history and capabilities to meet site-specific requirements and other job-related requirements not covered under this program. To better ensure the success of a project, owners should write quality specifications, implement plans to enforce the requirements of the specification through appropriate quality assurance and establish plans to maintain good communication with the contractor before work begins and throughout the project. This is necessary in addition to ensuring that the contractor meets the requirements of this program.

SSPC-QP 8, INSTALLATION OF POLYMER COATINGS AND SURFACINGS ON CONCRETE AND OTHER CEMENTITIOUS SURFACES

SSPC-QP 8 Certification is a new program intended to be used by facility owners (or their protective coating specialists or specifying engineers) to ensure that contractors hired to install polymer coatings or surfacings on concrete and other cementitious surfaces in commercial, institutional and industrial facilities have the primary technical capabilities and organizational structure necessary to do the work. Purchase the QP 8 standard here.

The objective of the program is to provide owners and their agents with a tool for prequalifying contractors who wish to bid on their projects. To achieve certification, companies are assessed in several key areas:

  • Management procedures
  • Technical knowledge
  • Quality control procedures
  • Personnel qualifications
  • Safety, health, and environmental compliance.

Companies seeking certification must also demonstrate their ability to:

  • Perform substrate evaluation, repair, and treatment
  • Conduct surface preparation operations
  • Install coatings and surfacings over concrete-based substrates
  • Implement their quality program in the field
  • Meet the conditions and restrictions specified by the owner.

These areas are first evaluated through a series of submittals describing the contractor’s business operations. Then an impartial, on-site audit of a representative active job-site is performed to verify that the programs and practices are being implemented and used. Companies that fail to meet the standards of the program are subject to disciplinary actions ranging from a basic warning to suspension and revocation of their certification.

The SSPC-QP 8 Certification Program does not involve inspection of the contractor’s work. The program is also not intended to guarantee the quality or safety performance of a specific contractor on any of its projects. Rather, it is intended to assist facility owners or others in their evaluation of potential bidders. While SSPC certification confirms a company’s capability to meet the requirements of SSPC-QP 8, owners, specifiers and general contractors are encouraged to also assess the installation contractor’s financial ability to perform a job as well as the contractor’s previous work history, capability to meet site-specific requirements and other areas not covered under this program.

Additional information and forms can be found on the QP forms page such as:

  • Applications / Program Rules for Certification
  • Audit Checklist
  • Auditor Evaluation Survey
  • Contractor Performance Form
  • Disciplinary Action Criteria (DAC)
  • Job Notification Form
  • List of Owners Known to Require Certified Contractors
  • Certification News Center
  • Technical Standards Library Requirements

SSPC-QP 9, STANDARD PROCEDURE FOR EVALUATING THE QUALIFICATIONS OF COMMERCIAL PAINTING AND COATING CONTRACTORS

SSPC-QP 9 is a nationally-recognized certification program that evaluates the practices of commercial painting contractors in key areas of business, setting forth the minimum level of service and quality required for today’s coatings industry. The program is designed to provide facility owners and specification writers a means to determine whether the painting contractor has the ability to perform commercial coating application on structures, such as:

  • Retail stores
  • Shopping centers
  • Office buildings
  • Schools, colleges, universities, and libraries
  • Public and military housing
  • Apartment buildings
  • Warehouses and product storage and distribution centers
  • Medical and dental facilities
  • Sports and recreational facilities

Purchase the QP 9 standard here.

To be certified by SSPC, Commercial Contractors must demonstrate competence in several key areas:

  • Management procedures
  • Technical capabilities
  • Job quality procedures
  • Safety, health, and environmental procedures

Background

This procedure, as described by the SSPC-QP 9 standard, encompasses the application of coatings in the commercial or institutional sectors only. Its objective is to determine if a painting contractor has the competence as described above to perform surface preparation and architectural coating application of the required quality as specified by the owner.

Technical Capabilities

These areas are evaluated through a series of submittals to SSPC describing the Contractor’s business operations. An impartial, on-site audit of a representative active job site and headquarters offices is performed to verify that the programs and practices are in fact implemented and used. The on-site audit criteria can be found in both the QP 9 application and its internal audit checklist. SSPC suggests that the contractor perform an internal audit using the checklist to ensure all areas of evaluation are addressed prior to an audit.

Additional information and forms can be found on the QP forms page such as:

  • Applications / Program Rules for Certification
  • Audit Checklist
  • Auditor Evaluation Survey
  • Contractor Performance Form
  • Disciplinary Action Criteria (DAC)
  • Job Notification Form
  • List of Owners Known to Require Certified Contractors
  • Certification News Center
  • Technical Standards Library Requirements

SSPC-QN 1, NUCLEAR COATING SUPPLEMENT

This supplemental procedure describes a method for evaluating the primary qualifications of industrial coating contractors that perform work in nuclear power plant and shop facilities that coat parts or components for installation in primary containment or other safety-related areas of light-water nuclear power plants. It defines a minimum standard for qualification.

The QN 1 procedure encompasses the field application of protective coatings for corrosion control and decontaminability of concrete, non-ferrous metal, and steel surfaces in service level I and III areas of nuclear power plant facilities. It also covers the shop application of coatings for parts and components to be installed in service level I and III areas.

The requirements of this procedure are intended to supplement the requirements of QP 1 (field application of steel surfaces), QP 3 (shop painting in a fixed facility), and QP 8 (field application of concrete surfaces).  Contractors seeking qualification to QN 1 (Nuclear Coatings Supplement) must first be qualified in good standing to the appropriate core qualification (i.e., QP 1, QP 3, or QP 8), depending upon the type of coating work performed.

Download the QN 1 standard here.

Program Requirements

To be certified by SSPC to QN 1, contractors must demonstrate competence in several key areas:

  • Audits
  • Control of purchased materials, items, and services
  • Document and data control
  • Handling, storage, shipping, and preservation
  • Inspection
  • Job quality monitoring
  • Measuring and test equipment
  • Nonconformances and Corrective Actions
  • Organization and Personnel
  • Procurement
  • Quality assurance program
  • Quality assurance records
  • Technical capabilities
  • Technical procedures
  • Training
    NOTE: Safety, health, and general environmental compliance requirements for fieldwork are evaluated in
    QP 1 or QP 8 are not evaluated separately in this supplement. These items are not
    evaluated as part of QP 3 for fabrication or paint shops and will be evaluated for facilities coating
    components or structures for installation in safety-related areas.

The evaluation process:
Similar to the other QP programs, the program guidelines are first evaluated through the required submittals that describe the contractor’s procedures, practices, and programs. Then an SSPC auditor performs an impartial, initial audit of the active job site to verify the use of the submitted practices and programs.

  1. Submittal or written application package
  2. Review of the application package
  3. Initial auditing of the contractor or shop facility
  4. Exit interview
  5. Evaluation of application and determination of the status
  6. Method of appeal
  7. Reconfirmation of qualification
  8. Revocation
  9. Qualification period
  10. Qualifying agency files

SSPC suggests that the contractor perform a self-evaluation using the checklist to be sure all areas are addressed prior to an audit. More detailed on-site audit criteria can be found in both the QN 1 application and the Internal Audit Checklist available on the QP Forms page.

SSPC-QS 1, STANDARD PROCEDURE FOR EVALUATING A CONTRACTOR’S ADVANCED QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

SSPC-QS 1 is the standard procedure in the SSPC PCCP program that requires participating contractors to implement and document more stringent (ISO 9001-compliant) quality control and record-keeping procedures compared to those included SSPC QP 1, SSPC QP 3, etc. However, unlike ISO 9001 certification, QS 1 provides the facility owner with the dual benefit of a coatings industry-specific QMS model for contractors who have the operational capability required by QP 1 plus the ISO 9001 compliant QMS detailed in QS 1.

Purchase the QS 1 standard here.

Owners and specifiers who require a higher level of quality control for their projects may request that contractors already qualified to standards such as SSPC QP 1, QP 3, QP 6, QP 8 or others also present evidence that their quality systems meet the requirements of QS 1.

The objective of this procedure is to confirm that a contractor has the personnel, organization, qualifications, procedures, knowledge, and capability to implement the quality standards described in QS 1.

Contractors applying for QS 1 must comply in practice and methods with generally accepted inspection criteria for coating inspection (including surface preparation) and field testing activities normally required as a part of coating inspection work. However, meeting the QS 1 requirements does not guarantee the performance of individual inspectors employed or utilized by the contractor or the contracting company itself.

Contractors may also use QS 1 as a guideline for developing a more formal quality program within their individual organizations.

QS 1 program essentials

The QS 1 procedure encompasses the in-process inspection of surface preparation and application of protective coatings and linings for new construction and maintenance for industrial, commercial and marine service.

Contractors meeting QS 1 requirements must demonstrate that their managerial staff have the necessary expertise, authority and resources to review and verify work performed by field personnel by supplying:

  • An organizational chart clearly showing lines of authority within the company.
  • Written documentation of training and experience of managerial staff. QS 1 has more formal training and qualification requirements for QC managers and inspectors.
  • A formal quality manual containing the information described in the QS 1 standard. QS 1 requires that the contractors Quality Control manual and procedures follow the format outlined in ASI Q10013 – Guidelines for Developing Quality Manuals.
  • Written quality plans that define and document how the requirements for quality will be met.
  • Written work plans including inspection and test plans for each individual job phase.
  • Written procedures and documentation showing implementation of a more formal calibration program for equipment used in the testing and inspection process.
  • Written evidence that management periodically reviews work performed by its field inspection personnel.
  • Written evidence that verification of the inspection result is administered independently of the inspection operation.

Qualification Categories

To apply for and attain QS 1 certification, a contractor must already have QP 1, QP 3, QP 6 or QP 8 certification. SSPC has developed the QS 1 Program to set a higher standard of practice for the QP 1, QP 3, QP 6, and QP 8 contractor to demonstrate an Advanced (ISO 9001 Compliant) Quality Management System (QMS). SSPC accomplishes this by independently auditing your company to confirm compliance with QS 1 based on the evaluation criteria described in the application and associated standard. The annual QS 1 maintenance audit is conducted in conjunction with the other annual QP audit requirement.

Qualification is available in two forms:

  • Interim Qualification
    SSPC will conduct a thorough audit of your quality management system to verify compliance. If your company meets the qualification requirements, SSPC will issue a one-time Interim Qualification, valid for up to 24 months from the date of the audit. To advance to Full Qualification, contractors must notify the SSPC Certification Manager within 15 working days of receiving any contract award requiring QS 1 or an equivalent quality program in order to request that SSPC audit the jobsite to confirm field implementation.
  • Full Qualification
    Upon notification of a contract award requiring implementation of QS 1 or an equivalent quality program, SSPC will visit at least one jobsite where the QS 1 Quality Management System has been fully implemented to verify compliance with QS 1. This is done at the contractor’s expense. The audit includes an examination of records and interviews with management and supervisory personnel and some subordinate employees about specific technical and quality assurance procedures, and training and inspection operations. If deemed necessary, SSPC may also visit the contractor’s office. Upon successful completion of the audit, SSPC will grant Full QS 1 Qualification.

Additional information and forms can be found on the QP forms page such as:

  • Applications / Program Rules for Certification
  • Audit Checklist
  • Auditor Evaluation Survey
  • Contractor Performance Form
  • Disciplinary Action Criteria (DAC)
  • Job Notification Form
  • List of Owners Known to Require Certified Contractors
  • Certification News Center
  • Technical Standards Library Requirements

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