Important Updates to Canada’s National Masters Specification

The National Master Specification (NMS) is the most comprehensive master specification in Canada, serving as an easy-to-use framework for writing construction project specifications.

In December 2019, Canada’s National Research Council (NRC)
published updates to 27 specification sections of the NMS, which serves as the primary resource for writing project specifications for construction work by the government of Canada.

The focus of the updates is quality assurance and certification standards for application specialists. The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) had been working with the NRC on these updates since 2018 and welcomes the new standards.

These improved standards for specifications will increase safety for contractors and workers, improve quality within the trade, and strengthen the durability of assets, preventing corrosion and other forms of decay.

The NMS is a reference document containing more than 780 master specifications in both English and French. Each section is designed to be edited from the original master to produce a projectspecific document. It is intended for use by the federal government, other public organizations, and the private sector in the preparation of construction and renovation contract documents.

The NMS is used for all large federal government projects as well as by other levels of government, including major provincial departments across the country. It is also a resource for private sector specifications, either directly or to maintain office masters in larger architectural firms.

Readers are likely familiar with the NMS, and those working in the Canadian market have certainly worked on projects with specifications that follow or are guided by the NMS, potentially involving sections included in this round of updates.

Focus on Safety and Quality Improvement
NMS specifications sections were updated based on recommendations from the IUPAT and were reviewed and approved by the NRC. Specifically, the focus of the updates includes:

• Defining technical terms in accordance with American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/NACE No. 13/ The Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC)-ACS-1-2016-SG;

• Adding ANSI/NACE No. 13/SSPC-ACS-1-2016-SG Standard as it
is applicable for industrial and commercial buildings;

• Requiring proof of certification for coating application specialists (CAS) in advance to demonstrate compliance with ANSI/NACE No. 13/SSPC-ACS-1-2016-SG; and

• Ensuring that the percentage of CAS on site is 50 percent as one of the project’s quality assurance (QA) requirements.

These updates will have a significant positive impact on the safety and training standards for Canadian contractors and workers.

A Phased Approach to Implementation
Recognizing that it will take time for contractors and applicators to build capacity to meet these standards, the SSPC Advisory Committee for the Painting Contractor Certification Program (PCCP) approved the implementation schedule for Canada shown in Table 1.

Table 1. SSPC Implementation Schedule for Canada
2021–2023 One CAS (Level I or Level II Interim) per 4 craftworkers performing blasting & spray painting
2024–2026 Two CAS (Level I or II) per 4 craftworkers performing blasting and spray painting and at least half of CAS must be Level II Interim minimum
2027 Two CAS (Level II – Full Status) per 4 craftworkers performing blasting and spray painting

This implementation schedule allows for a gradual, phased approach to the number of CAS certified craftworkers performing blasting and spray painting, establishing intervals by which the new standards will come into force.

What Specifications Sections Were Updated?
As noted, 27 NMS specifications sections were updated based on recommendations from the IUPAT and the review and approval of experts from the NRC. Some of the section subjects that were changed are included in Table 2 with identifying NMS section number in bold.

Table 2. NMS Section Updates (December 2019)
01 45 00 Quality Control
02 83 11 Lead-Base Paint Abatement – Intermediate Precautions
02 83 10 Lead-Base Paint Abatement – Minimum Precautions
02 83 12 Lead-Base Paint Abatement – Maximum Precautions
09 01 90.6203 37 13 Exterior Repainting
09 01 90.6303 45 00 Interior Repainting
09 91 00.0805 12 23 Painting for Minor Works
09 91 1305 12 33 Exterior Painting
09 91 13.2305 14 00 Exterior Painting of Structural Steel
09 96 5305 21 00 Elastomeric Coatings
09 96 5905 41 00 High-Build Glazed Coatings
33 56 1305 51 00 Aboveground Fuel – Storage Tanks
33 56 1605 52 16 Underground Fuel – Storage Tanks
44 41 13 Commercial Water Treatment Plants

The Cost of Corrosion in North America
These improvements to training and quality assurance standards in Canada are critical given the immense cost of corrosion across North America.

A 2002 federal study in the United States, led by NACE, estimated the annual costs at the time to be $276 billion USD. The study, Corrosion Costs and Preventive Strategies in the United States, was backed by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and remains an influential industry template on costs and control of corrosion in the United States.

Unfortunately, Canada has never had a study like this, but we know the cost of corrosion is enormous — likely proportionate to our American neighbors. When we consider the implications for our bridges, buildings (industrial, commercial, or residential), pipelines, and all major infrastructure, this becomes a cost that we all bear.

This lack of key data on the true extent of the financial cost of corrosion in Canada led the IUPAT to partner with the NACE International Institute on a new, important research project.

The International Measures of Prevention Application and Economics of Corrosion Technologies (IMPACT) Canada Study, launched in June 2020, will determine the financial and societal impacts of corrosion on various industry sectors across Canada and identify opportunities to increase safety and reduce costs.

Policymakers need evidence to develop policies and programs that help solve costly problems like corrosion. These costs may seem invisible, but for governments, private industry, and in fact all Canadians, we are all paying for the price of industrial deterioration.

That is why the IUPAT and NACE have teamed up to support this important research. With the capacity to accurately depict the extent of the cost of corrosion to Canada’s public and private infrastructure, we can work collaboratively with government and industry stakeholders on prevention measures such as training and quality control standards.

The six-month study is being led by the NACE Institute and will include participants from the IUPAT, industry asset owners, Canadian representatives of NACE International, and corrosion control management experts in the professions of contractors.

The resulting data can be used to ensure that government officials, regulators, industry, and the general public are informed about how corrosion control management practices are crucial to the reduction of corrosion costs. A similar study done in India resulted in the creation of a Government Bureau of Corrosion Control; we hope this study will also be catalyst for change.