We thought it was about time we introduced you to our talented team, and let you get to know a bit more about them and their role.

First up is Michael O’Neill, one of our Senior Coatings Inspectors!

How would you describe your role?

My role is a varied one, I am generally based around the island of Ireland with most of my work involving site-based work – which could be outdoors on a bridge one day, or in a workshop environment the following. The key objective of my role is to provide quality assurance service to clients, ensuring their asset no matter how big (or small) is in compliance with industry standards and their Inspection Test Plan (ITP). 

What do you enjoy most about the industry?

Coming from a hands-on background I now enjoy carrying out the inspection activities involved in my current role. Within Surface it’s great to be part of a team that provides a quality service, supporting our clients and their personnel from the start to finish of their projects in what is very specific and niche market. In my early years as a painter and later as an inspector, the industry has allowed me to travel all over the globe!

How would you describe ‘coating’ to someone who’d never heard of it?

That is difficult, but the way I would approach it is to explain that it’s a painting job but with a more technical aspect to it (the way it’s managed etc.). Technically speaking, the fundamentals of my role as a Senior Coating Inspector is to assess the conditions during which a spray, paint or coating has to be applied. In addition to that, I must also suggest the kinds of coating which would safeguard the material in question against detrimental corrosive environments. 

What are the different types of coating and what tests do you use to inspect coatings?

The types of coatings I am involved with are most common protective coating types used for steel structures (both interior and exterior), along with the types used for Fire Protection. Testing is contract specific, but could involve tests for the presence of soluble salts, tests for climatic conditions prior to and during painting works, tests for measuring paint thickness (both wet and dry), and tests to check if there’s any flaws in the coating. Testing is vitally important for both new and old construction in supporting the lifetime of any asset. 

Why is it important to minimise risk of corrosion?

It’s important to help minimise the risk of corrosion to allow the coating to achieve its durability target and help slow down the corrosion process which in turn helps the lifespan of the asset. Corrosion of various materials can have economic impacts for businesses, damage to the surrounding areas and ultimately can be high risk to the general public. As such, the importance of minimising the risk of corrosion cannot be underestimated and plays a very important role in a multitude of industries from manufacturing to renewables. To some extent corrosion inspection can be forgotten about in some sectors. In recent years I have seen a positive shift in the way in which corrosion is treated by contractors and asset owners alike, they now fully understand the lasting implications and dangers of corrosion.

What qualifications do you hold?

I have held my ICorr level 2 qualification for a number of years now. I am in the midst of completing my ICorr Level 3 qualification at the moment. I have found it very rewarding to continually learn and increase my industry knowledge along side gaining qualification. 

And finally, as Surface’s longest serving team member, how has Surface changed over the years?

The company has obviously changed in many ways (and all for the better), whether that is winning different contracts or welcoming new employees – no two days are the same! 

The real change I have seen over the last few years is the advancement and integration of SAM™️. I would have an old school approach to the way in which I write reports, but the recent changes to SAM™️ really make my life as a Senior Coatings Inspector so much easier and helps me to have a greater hands-on approach with clients. I’ll be honest, at the beginning I sceptical about it and quite nervous about its incorporation into daily work at Surface but now I would be lost without it! 

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