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Compulsory scheme for painting

The new scheme applies to all steel transportation infrastructure such as toll booths and bridges

A new national transportation infrastructure sector scheme for steelwork painting has been published on the United Kingdom Accreditation Scheme web site.

The scheme covers the quality management system requirements for corrosion protection of ferrous materials in transportation infrastructure assets using industrial coatings. Put more simply the scheme (NHSS 19A) applies to the painting of steelwork in transportation structures, such as bridges, stations, toll booths and interchanges.

It has been designed to enhance the quality and long term performance of the coatings used to protect steel assets and applies to new work and maintenance work. Scheme 19A has been drafted to be sector neutral and is therefore suitable to be adopted by clients across the transportation sector.

Clients such as the Highways Agency and Network Rail are adopting the scheme as a mandatory requirement for suppliers contracted to them for undertaking any painting of steelwork in their structures. The Highways Agency has added the scheme to the list of mandatory national highway sector quality management schemes included in Appendix A to Volume 1 of the Specification for Highway Works.

The scheme includes specific requirements for contractors to achieve a skilled workforce and adopts the Industrial Coatings Applicator Training and Certification Scheme (ICATS) developed by the Institute of Corrosion (ICorr) for operatives as the bench mark level for industry, together with the ICorr certification scheme for paint and coating inspectors. The scheme document, which has been developed through a partnership of industry stakeholders and client bodies, can be freely downloaded from the United Kingdom Accreditation Scheme (UKAS) web site:

Steelwork contractors and painting contractors undertaking works for clients who have adopted the scheme, such as the Highways Agency, should be working towards compliance with the scheme requirements to meet the implementation programme, which is described in the scheme document. This requires contractors to be taking action now as they should be working towards having 40% of their corrosion protection operatives certified to the ICATS scheme by 31 July 2007 and be achieving full compliance with scheme requirements by 31 January 2008.

Contractors should be having early discussions with their quality management system certification body, such as the Steel Construction Certification Scheme (SCCS), to ensure that they will be geared up for auditing and certifying against the new sector scheme to meet the implementation programme.

The Register of Qualified Steelwork Contractors Scheme (RQSC) is progressively including this requirement in its bridgework audits; RQSC is a tendering requirement for Highways Agency bridge projects.

The new sector scheme has been welcomed by the Highways Agency. A spokesman for the Agency said that the scheme should improve the quality of application of paint coatings used to protect its steel structures from corrosion, reducing whole life costs and disruption on the road network through extending the life of coatings. He added that it is also a further step forward in meeting the Agency’s aim of achieving a fully skilled workforce on its roads.

On 27 March there will be a Highways Agency/BCSA/RQSC Joint Seminar on the new Scheme at the National Liberal Club, London, chaired by Derek Drysdale, Divisional Director, Highways Agency. The Seminar Programme will include: Background to the Scheme and Implementation by the Highways Agency; Impact on Quality Management Auditing Requirements; Industrial Coatings Applicator Training Scheme, and Implementation by Network Rail.

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