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QS 1

SSPC-QS 1: Standard Procedure for Evaluating a Contractor's Advanced (ISO 9001 Compliant) 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 than 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.

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

In order to apply and attain QS 1 certification, you must already be QP 1, QP 3, QP 6 or QP 8 certified. 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 conformance.  If your company meets the qualification requirements, SSPC will issue a on-time Interim Qualification, valid for up to 24 months from the date of the audit. To advance to “Full Qualification,” you will need to 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, at your expense, visit at least one jobsite where the QS 1 Quality Management System has been fully implemented to verify conformance with QS 1.  The audit shall include examination of records and interviews with management and supervisory personnel and some subordinate employees about specific technical and quality assurance procedures, training, and inspection operations conducted by you.  If deemed necessary by SSPC, we may also visit your office.  Upon successful completion of the audit, SSPC will grant Full QS 1 Qualification.


Additional Information can be Found in the QP Applications & Forms box on the left side of this page:

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