SSPC certifications for industrial painters have a two-pronged effect when it comes to elevating the quality of the work performed in the industry. First, they verify that a painter has demonstrated the competence to earn and retain the certification or certifications. Second, they allow asset owners to pick from a qualified pool of contractors, which helps to cut down on the number of poorly executed (and potentially dangerous) painting jobs conducted across the country.
The skillset and knowledge required for an industrial painting company to earn SSPC certifications such as QP 1, QP 2, or QS 1 certifications (here’s a nice refresher on these SSPC certifications) help to verify that it’s not a painter’s first day on the job. The SSPC’s Coating Application Specialist (CAS) program helps to ensure that not only is the painting outfit as a whole qualified, but that individual employees of the company have hands-on training and experience in surface preparation and coating application on complex industrial and marine structures.
And it’s not just the process of earning SSPC certifications that tests an industrial painter’s mettle. Upholding certifications through periodic audits is a challenge in its own right. Audits test a contractor’s ability to manage projects, with all of the administrative challenges and attention to detail that job requires. Individual employee certifications, equipment manuals, product spec sheets, job specifications and many more documents all must be up-to-date, organized and accessible in order to undergo a successful audit.
Anything less than a successful audit and an industrial painting company is liable to have their certifications revoked. And while there may be some instances of companies losing their credentials, restructuring and then reapplying for them, in general companies with longstanding claims to SSPC certifications have gotten that way by knowing a thing or two about industrial painting best practices and how to execute a safe, quality job.
Finally, the SSPC and the certification program that it oversees allows especially diligent painting contractors to go above and beyond the usual annual audit conducted by the organization itself. Contractors can voluntarily submit to additional audits to ensure that they’re not just passing, but mastering the material covered by the audit. This helps to guard against simply working towards a piece of paper, guaranteeing instead that a contractor is both qualified AND competent to perform the work it bids for.
Why it matters for asset owners
So, why should asset owners care? Why should they put forward the effort to seek out contractors with SSPC certifications when evaluating bids for work? SSPC certifications are essentially a method of ensuring that the pool of contractors under consideration for a given job are able to display some outward signs of their experience and qualification. It allows for competition to take place on the basis of expected quality, rather than on bidding price alone.
These standards are not simply bonus criteria for owners that demand the best possible outcomes for the work they contract out. For government jobs, for instance, including those put out by Department of Defense agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers and military installations, both the advanced QS certification and a CAS-certified proportion of the workforce are requirements. In other words, some of the largest and most exacting institutions in the world demand this level of training from the subcontractors they hire, so private asset owners follow a pretty lofty standard when they too insist on hiring SSPC-certified painters.
Overall, SSPC certifications have the ability to elevate the quality of work conducted by the industrial coatings industry by ensuring that painters are both qualified and competent to conduct the work they claim to be able to, and by providing a qualified pool of contractors for asset owners to choose from when evaluating bids for work. These standards and the best practices they encourage have the power to enhance the quality of work across the industry when they are selected for and the contractors who earn them are rewarded for their work.