QS 1 – Advanced Quality Management


Standard procedure for evaluating a contractor’s advanced quality management system

QS 1 is the standard procedure in the Painting Contractor Accreditation Program that requires participating contractors to implement and document more stringent (ISO 9001-compliant) quality control and record-keeping procedures compared to those included in QP 1, 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.

Get the QS 1 Standard

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.

Qualification categories

To apply for and attain QS 1 accreditation, a contractor must already have QP 1, QP 3, QP 6 or QP 8 accreditation. The QS 1 Program was developed 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). We accomplish 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

We will conduct a thorough audit of your quality management system to verify compliance. If your company meets the qualification requirements, we 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 QP Accreditation Manager within 15 working days of receiving any contract award requiring QS 1 or an equivalent quality program in order to request that we 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, we 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, we may also visit the contractor’s office. Upon successful completion of the audit, the full QS 1 Qualification will be granted.