Certification Education

Nov. 19, 2008

About the author: Shawn W. Nedley is a certification program specialist with SSPC. Nedley can be reached at 877.281.7772 or by e-mail at [email protected]. Rebecca Wilhelm is associate editor for Water & Wastes Digest. Wilhelm can be reached at 847.954.7958 or by e-mail at [email protected].


Coating and lining projects are critical to a structure’s long-term health. The Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC) offers certification quality programs for contractors that perform coating and lining work and for companies that provide inspection services.

WWD Associate Editor Rebecca Wilhelm spoke with Shawn W. Nedley, SSPC certification program specialist, about SSPC’s certification quality programs and the association’s growth within the water and wastewater industries.

Rebecca Wilhelm: What SSPC certification quality programs are relevant to the water and wastewater industries?

Shawn W. Nedley: SSPC has a number of certification quality programs tailored to specific painting, coating and lining projects. The QP 1 certification program is the cornerstone of the programs and the most relevant contractor certification program for the water and wastewater industries. QP 1—Field Application to Complex Industrial and Marine Structures—evaluates contractors who perform surface preparation and industrial coating application on steel structures in the field of industrial coatings technology, such as water tanks, piping and digesters.

Wilhelm: In what applications is SSPC certification valuable?

Nedley: SSPC’s certification quality programs offer a proven way for water authorities, public works departments and wastewater treatment plants to find the most qualified contractors for their coating and lining projects. An SSPC-certified contractor will have the experience, know­ledge and equipment to produce high- quality work in accordance with the local, state and federal guidelines for safety, health and environmental compliance.

Wilhelm: What benefits does hiring an SSPC-certified contractor provide?

Nedley: Benefits of requiring QP-certified contractors include: eliminating the inquiries from unqualified con­tractors, raising the quality of your bid list by using a prequalified list, saving time and money by having an external screening process and reducing the need for rework.

Wilhelm: Please explain the SSPC certification process.

Nedley: To be certified by SSPC, industrial contractors must demonstrate competence in several key areas, including management procedures, quality control, safety and environmental compliance and technical capabilities.

These areas are evaluated through a series of submittals to SSPC describing the contractor’s business operations. Then an impartial, onsite audit of a representative active job site and headquarter offices is performed to verify that the programs and practices are in fact implemented and used.

Wilhelm: What costs are associated with membership and certification?

Nedley: The costs of the certification quality programs are funded through fees paid by contractors. As a water authority, public works department or wastewater treatment facility, you will not be charged fees by SSPC for recruiting or hiring certified contractors. Owners that require SSPC QP-certified contractors on their coatings projects are not required to be members of SSPC.

Wilhelm: If I want to specify SSPC certification for my next painting project, what services does SSPC provide to help me accomplish this?

Nedley: SSPC offers free consultation to owners to help them implement the QP program requirement into their coatings program. SSPC also has developed contract and bid notice language that you can use or modify to specify SSPC certification. SSPC will also conduct training on certification requirements and standards, at the request of the facility owner, for contractors and agency officials where certification is being implemented.

Wilhelm: Have the water and wastewater markets successfully incorporated contractor certification requirements into their coatings projects?

Nedley: Yes, the water and waste­water markets are the two largest growth areas for SSPC certification quality programs over the past two years. Since 2006, 49 water-related owners have instituted requirements of QP-certified coatings contractors.

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