ISSA Workshop Certification

~ Pilot Program~

Register Online for the ISSA Workshop

Pavement preservation plays a critical role in safeguarding America’s highway system from detrimental effects of the sun, water, and ever increasing traffic. Pavement preservation is a pillar of sound asset management and ensures that the overall condition of the road network can be sustained at a desired level. Therefore, the successful placement and performance of pavement preservation treatments has a dramatic impact on long-term financial planning and the ability of agencies to achieve their pavement condition goals cost-effectively.

In recent years, a substantial number of agencies have adopted a pavement preservation philosophy to keep good pavements in good condition. However, many agencies and contractors lack proper knowledge and work experience in the many pavement preservation treatments available today. Consequently, successful construction and performance reliability are greatly dependent on expertise that is simply lacking. Often, unnecessary failures occur that could have been prevented with targeted training of construction and inspection staff and implementation of certification programs for pavement preservation treatments.

A training and certification program enables employees to acquire a greater understanding of the treatment and competence in the field to ensure the successful placement of pavement preservation treatments. Certification is granted through an exam, and for contractors, additional performance assessments are required.   The program is not related to, nor will it infringe on, any prequalification program required by an agency.

This document outlines certification programs for agencies, laboratories, and contractors.

Benefits and a Recommended Oversight Process for a State & Local Agency

Having agency personnel certified in specific pavement preservation treatments will ensure that future investments in those treatments are properly designed, constructed, and perform as intended. Certification would give agency employees the knowledge necessary to monitor contractor performance.

It is understood that project oversight is completely defined and managed by the agency, but a few helpful recommendations can alleviate potential problems:

  • Certified personnel within the agency can help serve as the over-arching technical expert for the treatment(s) in the district/region/division.
  • Certified personnel can provide peer-to-peer training with other agency staff.
  • Certified personnel should attend the pre-construction meeting with the assigned inspector and help review the Contractor’s Quality Control Plan; material sources and tests requirements; equipment requirements; and treatment mix design documents if a slurry system will be constructed.
  • Certified personnel should witness the on-site calibration of placement equipment used for micro surfacing, slurry seal, polymer-modified slurry, chip seal, or fog seal.
  • Certified personnel should be available to respond to treatment issues that may arise in the field.

State & Local Agency Certification

  • The state and local agency certification is a voluntary program.
  • Certifications are valid for three years.
  • Agency personnel may be individually certified for one treatment category or multiple treatment categories. The treatment categories are:
    • (1) Slurry Systems (Micro Surfacing, Slurry Seal & Polymer Modified Slurry)
    • (2) Chip Seals and Fog Seals
    • (3) Crack Treatments
  • Agency personnel may attend either the ISSA Slurry Systems Workshop [1]in Clark County, Nevada or training by the National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP)[2] at the agency’s facilities. The ISSA workshop is four-days and covers all three treatment categories. The NCPP training is one-day for each treatment category requested. The certification examination will be administered immediately upon the completion of the training workshop or one-day class.
  • Agency personnel must pass a treatment-specific examination with a score of 80% or better. The examination is focused on agency needs and will consist of 50 – 75 questions depending on the treatment category.
  • Personnel to be considered for certification should include:
    • (1) One senior level inspector and designer from each district/region/division (based on agency nomenclature)
    • (2) One engineering preservation specialist from headquarters/central office
    • (3) Outside consultants providing inspection services for the agency.

Transition toward AMRL Accreditation

The International Slurry Surfacing Association (ISSA) has recently endorsed AASHTO Materials Reference Laboratory (AMRL) accreditation for all laboratories developing mix designs for slurry systems. This ensures that mix designs are developed in laboratories that have a quality management system meeting the requirements of AASHTO R-18. The R-18 requirements titled, “Standard Practice for Establishing and Implementing a Quality Management System for Construction Materials Testing Laboratories” contain criteria and guidelines that will initially be for slurry system designs and later extended to include other pavement preservation treatments.

A laboratory can request an assessment for accreditation by registering on the AMRL website. The AMRL schedules assessments on an east-to-west tour of North America, with the complete tour taking approximately 2 years. The purpose of a sequenced tour is to keep assessment costs low. However, a laboratory may request an immediate assessment “out of sequence” by payment of an additional cost. Laboratories seeking accreditation and conforming to all the requirements will likely have it granted within 3 to 6 months of their assessment.  Therefore a reasonable expectation for requiring AMRL accreditation across the nation is about 2 years. Pilot programs can begin requiring AMRL accreditation earlier.

Benefits of AMRL-Accredited Laboratories

The AMRL Assessment Program provides on-site assessments of laboratories that perform testing of materials used in construction and preservation projects. Testing and mix design laboratories gain a great deal from a technically sound assessment by an AMRL accreditation. Through the accreditation process, a laboratory builds a quality management system, which should reduce procedural errors and prevent poor mix designs from going to the field.

Contractor Certification

The contractor’s company will carry the burden of certification. Specific certification criteria ensure the contractor’s workforce is properly trained to understand quality control measures that result in the highest standard of work and treatment performance. A contractor company certification is valid for one year. Company certification and annual certification renewal will require the following:

  • A current listing of field employees at the time of certification or renewal.
  • Confirmation of critical experience
    • (1) Company superintendent(s) and company trainer (if designated) have 3 years of specified treatment field experience.
    • (2) Company foreman and/or operators have 2 years of specified treatment field experience
  • A validation of certification for key employees
  • (1) Company superintendent(s)
  • (2) Company trainer (if designated)
  • (3) Crew foreman
  • (4) Placement machine operator
  • A verification of crew/laborer training
    • (1) Completion of ISSA web-based training on the specific treatment
    • (2) Internal training records, that include:
  1. A minimum of 4 hours of classroom training by company trainer for each crew/laborer
  2. A minimum of 4 hours of on-the-job (OJT) training by company trainer or superintendent for each crew/laborer
  • Submission of the company’s Quality Control Plan (QCP). This document should define the minimum core efforts required on every project. In addition, a project-specific QCP[3] must be developed and submitted to the agency at the pre-construction meeting.

Company employee certification is valid for three years.

The employee certification process and 3-year certification renewal process for key employees is as follows:

  • Key employees may be individually certified for one treatment category or multiple treatment categories. The treatment categories are:
    • (1) Slurry Systems (Micro Surfacing, Slurry Seal & Polymer Modified Slurry)
    • (2) Chip Seals and Fog Seals
    • (3) Crack Treatments
  • Key employees are encouraged to complete ISSA web-based training on the specific treatment as a prerequisite to other training.
  • Key employees must attend either the ISSA Slurry Systems Workshop in Clark County, Nevada or training by NCPP at the agency’s facilities. The ISSA training is four-days and covers all three treatment categories. The NCPP training is one-day for each treatment category requested.
  • Company employees must pass an examination given at a training location in a designated treatment category. The examination will be more comprehensive for company employees than for agency personnel and consist of 50 – 100 questions depending on the treatment category. A passing score will be 80% or better, and passing the examination certifies the employee has sufficient understanding and knowledge to construct a quality treatment.

Company employee certification carries certain responsibilities to ensure projects are properly constructed. The minimum responsibilities include:

  • Superintendent
    • (1) Oversees no more than 3 projects at a time
    • (2) Reviews the project QCP with crew foreman, placement machine operator(s), and crew members
    • (3) Witnesses equipment calibration and test strip placement, unless witnessing is assigned to the crew foreman
    • (4) Ensures certification documentation is available prior to beginning work on the project.
  • Crew Foreman
  • (1) Manages and remains on-site for one project at a time
  • (2) Agrees to follow the project QCP
  • (3) Witnesses equipment calibration and test strip placement, unless witnessed by the superintendent
  • (4) Ensures that appropriate material field adjustments are made when absolutely necessary.
    • Placement Machine Operator(s) and Crew Members
      • (1) Place treatment according to best practices and procedures

Contractor Company Decertification

A contractor company may lose certification if the NCPP receives supporting documentation from a certified agency that shows a:

  • Failure to follow the project Quality Control Plan (QCP).
  • Fraudulent action or deliberate misrepresentation
  • Failure to submit required documentation for certification renewal by the renewal date[4]

A resolution process has been established to address a contractor appeal of decertification. The process includes the following steps:

  • Upon receiving supporting documentation from the certified agency the contractor will be notified of the intent to decertify by the NCPP.
  • The contractor must appeal the action in writing to NCPP within 14 days of the notification.
  • A resolution team will be assembled to review the appeal. The resolution team will comprise a total of 5 members. There will be 2 members representing the industry, 2 members representing the agency, and 1 representative from NCPP.
  • The resolution team will only consider documented evidence.
  • The decision of the resolution team is final.

A decertified contractor may not apply for re-certification for a period of one year.

Certification Program Administration

The pavement preservation treatment certification program will be administered by the National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP) at Michigan State University. A pilot program is available to any agency that wishes to participate and improve the reliability and performance of their pavement preservation treatments. After piloting the certification program, and if substantial benefits are determined by the pilot agencies, the program may be adopted by the AASHTO TSP•2.

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