AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs, LLC (AIHA LAP) is a group of laboratory accreditation programs. The primary mission of AIHA LAP is to establish high standards of performance for laboratories that promote the production of quality data for use in evaluating exposures that impact public health, the environment, and natural resources. These programs are administered in a non-discriminatory manner and are open to all laboratories wishing to participate. Access to AIHA LAP programs is not conditional upon the size of the laboratory or organization seeking accreditation, nor are there undue financial conditions to restrict participation. Accreditation is granted to any laboratory satisfying AIHA LAP requirements for accreditation.
AIHA LAP is managed to conform to the requirements of the ISO/IEC 17011:2017, Conformity Assessment – Requirements for Accreditation Bodies Accrediting Conformance Assessment Bodies. Laboratories seeking accreditation must conform to the requirements of the ISO/IEC 17025:2017, General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories, in addition to program-specific requirements as detailed in the latest revision of the AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs, LLC Policies.
AIHA LAP currently operates six accreditation programs:
- The Industrial Hygiene Laboratory Accreditation Program (IHLAP) is designed specifically for laboratories involved in testing samples to evaluate workplace exposures.
- The Environmental Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELLAP) accredits laboratories performing analysis of lead in environmental samples, including paint, soil, dust wipes, and air. The ELLAP is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through a Memorandum of Agreement, and this program has been designed to comply with the requirements of the EPA National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program (NLLAP). It is standard practice for AIHA LAP staff to regularly meet with EPA NLLAP to collaborate on means of continuously improving the AIHA LAP, LLC accreditation programs, and the relationship between the signatory parties.
- The Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program (EMLAP) is specifically for labs identifying microorganisms commonly detected in air, fluids, and bulk samples during indoor air quality studies.
- The Food Laboratory Accreditation Program (FoodLAP) is specifically for laboratories testing food products (including raw agricultural commodities), finished food products, and food ingredients.
- The Unique Scope Laboratory Accreditation Program is ISO/IEC 17025:2017 only accreditation. AIHA LAP established this program to accommodate consumer product testing accreditation and accreditation for other types of testing not typically part of the industrial hygiene, lead, microbiology, and food programs.
- The Beryllium Field/Mobile Accreditation Program (Be Field/Mobile) is intended for the accreditation of field/mobile analytical facilities specifically for Beryllium analysis.
The IHLAP, ELLAP, EMLAP, FoodLAP, Unique Scopes, and Be Field/Mobile LAP programs are fully recognized by the Inter-American Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC), the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC), and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).
Duties and Rights
As an accreditation body, AIHA LAP has a duty to:
- Operate laboratory accreditation programs in accordance with requirements in ISO/IEC 17011 and other applicable national and international requirements;
- Uphold the ISO/IEC 17025 standard and the AIHA LAP Policies;
- Offer a range of laboratory accreditation services that promote the reporting of quality data to address occupational and environmental exposure;
- Disseminate real-time information to participant laboratories;
- Address feedback and pursue “continuous improvement”;
- Establish, maintain, periodically review and make publicly available AIHA LAP volunteer governance; and,
- Enhance its accreditation programs to better serve the participant laboratories and ensure programs meet international and national requirements.
AIHA LAP also has the right(s) to:
- Implement critical Policy changes with input from stakeholders;
- Specify additional requirements for accreditation beyond ISO/IEC 17025 such as personnel qualifications, quality system requirements, program-specific technical requirements, and proficiency testing requirements as outlined in AIHA LAP Policies;
- Grant, suspend, deny or withdraw accreditation based on AIHA LAP Policies;
- Appoint volunteers using criteria outlined in its governance document;
- Improve its efficiency and effectiveness for its laboratories, volunteers, contractors, and staff through organizational restructuring and process improvement initiatives;
- Identify and selectively pursue opportunities for partnerships, liaisons, and coalitions with interested parties on public policy issues of mutual interest and with clearly identified outcomes
AIHA LAP is financed entirely by its fee-based accreditation services. AIHA LAP receives revenue in the way of annual fees, site assessment fees, and other fees for accreditation applications, re-accreditations, field of testing (FoT) additions, and monthly payment plans. This revenue covers the expenses of AIHA LAP staffing, and business operations that are obtained through a contractual Agreement made with AIHA (its sole Member.)
AIHA LAP's organization, structure, and relationship with AIHA and other Related Bodies
A related body is a separate legal entity that is linked by common ownership or contractual arrangements to the accreditation body. The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), a not-for-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of Illinois, is the sole owner of AIHA LAP, as detailed under Legal Responsibility. However, there are no requirements for AIHA LAP customers to be members of AIHA to be accredited or for individuals to be AIHA members to volunteer or serve on AIHA LAP committees. The LLC’s accreditation program is open to all eligible laboratories. AIHA LAP does not offer discounts to AIHA members, and AIHA doesn’t offer membership discounts to AIHA LAP customers.
AIHA LAP was organized in November 2008 as a limited liability company, a registered and distinct legal entity, under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. AIHA also is the sole owner of two separately organized and operated Virginia limited liability companies, AIHA Proficiency Analytical Testing, LLC (AIHA PAT, LLC) and AIHA Registry Programs, LLC.
As explained below, AIHA LAP is firmly committed to carrying out its accreditation activities in an impartial manner, managing conflicts of interest and ensuring objectivity of its accreditation decisions.
a) Distinctly different Names, Logos, Symbols and Top Management of the Affiliated Laboratory Programs
The names, logos, and symbols of AIHA, AIHA LAP, LLC, AIHA PAT, LLC, and AIHA Registry Programs, LLC are distinctly different. AIHA LAP’s name includes AIHA’s acronym in its name since AIHA accreditation is cited in several state and federal regulatory requirements.
AIHA PAT, LLC and AIHA Registry Programs, LLC are separate legal entities created in November/December 2008 under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The top manager for AIHA PAT, LLC and the AIHA Registry Programs, LLC is different from the top management of AIHA LAP and is the AIHA Director of Operations. Proficiency testing decisions are being made by a separate AIHA PAT, LLC board that is completely independent of the accreditation decision-makers. Laboratories are free to use another approved provider for proficiency testing. Employees and office space of AIHA PAT, LLC and AIHA Registry Programs, LLC are contractually leased from AIHA. The Data Management System is a resource shared with AIHA LAP. AIHA PAT, LLC provides proficiency testing (PT) reports to AIHA LAP. PT data is only accessible to AIHA PAT, LLC. The staff of AIHA PAT, LLC and AIHA Registry Programs, LLC do not have access to accredited laboratory information.
Laboratories accredited by AIHA LAP may participate in AIHA PAT, LLC proficiency testing programs, but they also are free to use other approved proficiency testing programs or to demonstrate competency independently.
Each of AIHA LAP, AIHA PAT, LLC, and AIHA Registry Programs, LLC has a:
- Distinct name that includes the AIHA acronym since AIHA is cited in several states and federal regulatory requirements
- Established and distinct legal identity and tax ID number
- Separate technical board (decision-makers)
- Group of separate dedicated volunteers and strategic advisors
- Separate governance and operating agreements
- A separate set of policy documents outlining program requirements
- Separate fee schedules
- Separate budget and separately managed finances
- Separate vendor contracts
- Separate Web site
b) Different top management for those activities
The Managing Director of AIHA LAP and has the authority for supervision of the finances for AIHA LAP, contractual arrangements, and supervision of the implementation of the policies and procedures, and delegation of authority for certain activities on her behalf. The Managing Director’s position description provides further details on these and other responsibilities. The Managing Director of AIHA LAP does not serve in a similar capacity with any of AIHA, AIHA PAT, LLC, or AIHA Registry Programs, LLC. The Managing Director of AIHA LAP reports to the AIHA CEO. The AIHA CEO is not involved with the day-to-day operations or the accreditation process but is kept informed of the status of the accreditation programs by the AIHA LAP Managing Director.
The AIHA Board of Directors has fiscal responsibility and oversight of AIHA LAP, and approves the AIHA LAP budget. The AIHA Board of Directors also interfaces with the AIHA CEO, who hires the Managing Director of AIHA LAP. There is a Professional and Administrative Service Agreement between AIHA and AIHA LAP for technical staff, office space, and support/professional services. AIHA LAP provides annual payments through a License Agreement with AIHA to use the AIHA name and brand. AIHA LAP has liability insurance for its staff, volunteers, and site assessors.
c) Personnel different from those involved in the accreditation decision-making process
Accreditation decisions are made by AIHA LAP’s Analytical Accreditation Board (AAB). In the past, AAB members were elected through balloting, but that process was changed to an appointment process in 2009. The staff of AIHA LAP does not make accreditation decisions, nor does the AIHA CEO. In addition, the AIHA Board of Directors is not involved in the accreditation decisions. The members of AIHA LAP’s AAB do not serve in any position of AIHA, AIHA PAT, LLC, or AIHA Registry Programs, LLC.
d) No possibility to influence the outcome of an accreditation assessment
All AIHA LAP site assessors are required to sign a Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest form and the Site Assessor Contract (SAC) with AIHA LAP that includes language regarding conflict of interest and confidentiality. Assessors cannot serve on the AAB, making accreditation decisions. The reports of the site assessment submitted by the site assessors are considered by the AAB in accreditation decisions, but the assessors cannot influence the final accreditation decision. As discussed in the previous section, all accreditation decisions are made by the AIHA LAP AAB. The members of AIHA LAP’s related bodies (AIHA, AIHA PAT, LLC, and AIHA Registry Programs) do not serve in any position within AIHA LAP that has the possibility to influence the outcome of an assessment for accreditation.
Laboratory Rights and Duties
AIHA LAP requires accredited laboratories (CABs) to conform to the following duties:
a) The CAB commits to fulfill continually the requirements for accreditation set by the AIHA LAP for the areas where accreditation is sought or granted. AIHA LAP gives due notice of any changes to its requirements for accreditation (Policies). It takes account of views expressed by interested parties before deciding on the precise form and effective date of the changes. Following a decision on and publication of the changed requirements, the CAB carries out any necessary adjustments. This includes an agreement to adapt to changes in the requirements for accreditation, to be verified at the next assessment by AIHA LAP.
b) When requested, the CAB affords such accommodation and cooperation as is necessary to enable AIHA LAP to verify the fulfillment of requirements for accreditation. This applies to all premises where the conformity assessment services take place.
c) The CAB provides access to information, documents, and records as necessary for the assessment and maintenance of the accreditation. The On-Site Documents and Records Review List informs the CAB of a subset of information that must be readily available.
d) The CAB provides access to those documents that provide insight into the level of independence and impartiality of the CAB from its related bodies, where applicable.
e) CAB arranges the witnessing of CAB services when requested by AIHA LAP.
f) The CAB claims accreditation only with respect to the scope for which it has been granted accreditation, per Policy Module 7.
g) The CAB does not use its accreditation in such a manner as to bring AIHA LAP into disrepute.
h) The CAB pays fees as shall be determined by AIHA LAP (Fee Schedule available upon request).
i) The CAB adheres to the requirements in Policy Module 3, Accreditation, Maintenance and Reaccreditation Process, which requires the accredited CAB that it informs the AIHA LAP by, without delay, of significant changes relevant to its accreditation, in any aspect of its status or operation relating to its legal, commercial, ownership or organizational status, the organization, top management, and key personnel, main policies, resources and premises, the scope of accreditation, and other such matters that may affect the ability of the CAB to fulfill requirements for accreditation.
Accredited laboratories (CABs) have the right to:
a) an efficient and timely accreditation process and granting of accreditation, including a request for a pre-assessment.
b) have its accreditation information and current status posted to the AIHA LAP website for its customers’ use, including name and address, term of accreditation, certificate, and scope of accreditation.
c) information from AIHA LAP on suitable ways to obtain traceability of measurement results in relation to the scope for which accreditation is provided. AIHA LAP has published policies and guidance on traceability of measurement in Appendix H of the Policy Modules.
d) information on the AIHA LAP website, and other communication regarding domestic and international arrangements in which it is involved, such as the ILAC MRA and the IAAC MLA.
e) provide stakeholder input through direct communication and feedback forms (available on the AIHA LAP website).
f) file a complaint and have it processed in a timely manner per Policy Module 8.
g) timely processing and resolution of reconsideration of any adverse decision made by the accreditation body elated to its desired accreditation status, including refusal to accept an application, refusal to proceed with an assessment, corrective action requests, changes in accreditation scope, decisions to deny, suspend or withdraw accreditation, and/ or any other action that impedes the attainment of accreditation.
h) due notice from AIHA LAP of any changes to its requirements for accreditation, the opportunity to express views before AIHA LAP decides on the precise form and effective date of the changes per Policy Module 8.
i) AIHA LAP impartiality and confidentiality regarding the CAB in accreditation decisions, including confidentiality of records.