SSPC QS1 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 QP1, SSPC QP3, etc.


SSPC QS1, Standard Procedure for Evaluating a Contractor’s Advanced Quality Management System

Unlike ISO 9001 certification, QS1 provides the facility owner with the dual benefit of a coatings industry-specific QMS model for contractors who have the operational capability required by QP1 plus the ISO 9001 compliant QMS detailed in QS1.

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 QP1, QP3, QP6, QP8 or others also present evidence that their quality systems meet the requirements of QS1.

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 QS1.

Contractors applying for QS1 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 QS1 requirements does not guarantee the performance of individual inspectors employed or utilized by the contractor or the contracting company itself.

Contractors may also use QS1 as a guideline for developing a more formal quality program within their individual organizations.


QS1 Program Essentials

The QS1 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 QS1 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. QS1 has more formal training and qualification requirements for QC managers and inspectors.
  • A formal quality manual containing the information described in the QS1 standard. QS1 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 QS1 certification, a contractor must already have QP1, QP3, QP6 or QP8 certification. SSPC has developed the QS1 Program to set a higher standard of practice for the QP1, QP3, QP6, and QP8 contractor to demonstrate an Advanced (ISO 9001 compliant) Quality Management System (QMS). SSPC accomplishes this by independently auditing your company to confirm compliance with QS1 based on the evaluation criteria described in the application and associated standard. The annual QS1 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 QS1 or an equivalent quality program in order to request that SSPC audit the jobsite to confirm field implementation.

Upon notification of a contract award requiring implementation of QS1 or an equivalent quality program, SSPC will visit at least one jobsite where the QS1 Quality Management System has been fully implemented to verify compliance with QS1. 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 QS1 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