AIHA LAP 2020 Year-End Special Edition
It goes without saying that this year has been unlike any other. As this unprecedented year closes, the LAP Team wants to thank our accredited laboratories for choosing to do business with us and for your continued support. I also want to reflect on what we achieved in 2020 and look ahead at the year to come.
Regarding accomplishments, I would like to highlight the following:
- Early in 2020, AIHA LAP demonstrated its compliance with ISO/IEC 17011:2017 (the international standard used to evaluate accreditation bodies) after undergoing a documentary review and receiving approval from both the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation and the Inter American Accreditation Cooperation.
- At the onset of the pandemic, AIHA LAP canceled its March 2020 annual meeting to eliminate travel-related risks to staff, site assessors, and volunteers. Still, we went on to host a successful week-long virtual meeting in March to discuss many important topics and begin the dialogue on assessing labs during the pandemic.
- Having decided at the annual meeting to pivot to remote assessments, AIHA LAP updated its site assessor procedures, conducted assessor training, and began conducting remote assessments in April. To date, over 100 labs have undergone remote assessments, and they have been viewed favorably by assessors and our accredited labs.
- By conducting remote assessments, AIHA LAP was able to accredit 96 percent of our labs to the latest version of ISO/IEC 17025:2017 and expects to have all labs accredited to the new standard by the new deadline set by ILAC of June 2021.
- To help our laboratories understand our efforts related to the pandemic, we stood up a COVID-19 page on our website where we posted a Frequently Asked Questions document and a video on remote assessments.
- AIHA LAP also added a new field of testing - RT-PCR (reverse transcription PCR) - under the environmental microbiology program's molecular scope category. This FoT is specific for viruses and makes it clear that some EMLAP accredited labs can analyze SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses on surfaces and in the air.
- The LAP team, along with the Strategic Advisory Group, worked with an outside contractor to conduct in-depth interviews of volunteers, assessors, and stakeholders and then a comprehensive LAP Survey, for which there was an excellent response rate. They also participated in a LAP Virtual Strategic Planning meeting that led to a LAP 5-Year Strategic Plan. The Plan outlines how LAP will expand participation in existing LAP programs and explore opportunities for growth in accreditation programs and services. The Plan was shared with and approved by the Analytical Accreditation Board in October.
Looking toward 2021, you can expect the following from AIHA LAP:
- While we are excited about the coronavirus vaccines becoming available, we know that it will be a while before our site assessors can travel again. We expect to continue to conduct remote assessments through most of 2021 as well as surveillance assessments (as a follow up to those assessments conducted remotely in 2020). Please continue to provide feedback on remote assessments.
- AIHA LAP expects to announce the launch of a Beryllium Field/Mobile Accreditation Program in 2021 that will allow mobile units and field operations analyzing beryllium (outside of fixed-site labs) to be accredited. As well, we expect to develop a medical testing accreditation program (based on ISO/IEC 15189), which will prove useful for those labs seeking accreditation for COVID testing.
- AIHA LAP will conduct market research and more interviews that will inform AIHA LAP's direction and provide insight that will help the LAP Staff Team implement the LAP 5-Year Strategic Plan.
- Finally, our accredited labs will be pleased to learn that we will not increase any accreditation fees in 2021. Still, we recognize that times may be tough financially for some of our labs, but we encourage you to maintain your AIHA LAP accreditation, especially since accredited testing will continue to play a role in public health decision making. Should you need help paying your 2021 invoice and need to discuss payment arrangements, please contact Anthony Hodge at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 846-0796.
This year has given us all a renewed sense of appreciation of what we have been able to accomplish with our site assessors, volunteers, and, more importantly, our accredited laboratories. AIHA LAP remains committed more than ever to its laboratories and will continue to seek ways to better serve you in 2021.
Have a safe and happy holiday and a Happy New Year!
Cheryl O. Morton
IMPORTANT NEWS FOR LABORATORIES
AIHA LAP is pleased to announce that we have begun rolling out our new online data management system to our accredited laboratory customers! This system -- which is already being used by staff, site assessors, and volunteers -- provides a new avenue for laboratories to submit their applications, respond to corrective actions, and track their application status throughout the accreditation process. All new and re-accreditation applications will now be completed online, and materials uploaded through this new secure Data Management System. Keep an eye out for login instructions in your next re-accreditation notification letter. For more information, please contact us.
The International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) has published a revision of ILAC P10:07/2020 ILAC Policy on Metrological Traceability of Measurement Results, which is now available. This document, which addresses the ILAC policy on metrological traceability of measurement results, has been revised to reflect ISO/IEC 17025:2017 and provides additional clarification of its applicability to other conformity assessment activities where measurement is involved. The implementation date for this version of ILAC P10 is July 2021.
ILAC has also published a revision of ILAC P14:09/2020 ILAC Policy for Measurement Uncertainty in Calibration was also published and is available on ILAC website.
This document sets out the requirements and guidelines for the estimation and statement of uncertainty in calibration and reflects the 2017 versions of ISO/IEC 17011 and ISO/IEC 17025. The policy continues to be based on the Guide to Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM.)
The implementation date for ILAC P14 is March 2021.
AIHA LAP Policies will be updated to reflect the publication of these two documents.
Please note the solicitation period for AIHA LAP 2021 Accreditation Policy Changes will officially open in January 2021. During that time, we will accept all suggested policy changes, which will be considered for approval by both the Policy Task Force and the Analytical Accreditation Board (AAB). Those approved changes will then be posted for final stakeholder review and comment, which will be further considered by the Task Force and the AAB. Please note that the Final Policies will be published along with the 2021 Accreditation Application in July or August 2021.
The Policies will be effective immediately, and all AIHA LAP assessments, including surveillance and follow-up assessments, will be conducted against the 2021 AIHA LAP Policies. At that time, the revised Site Assessor Checklist will be sent to laboratories already accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2017. For questions about the process for 2021 policy changes, please contact Lena Bulgakova at email@example.com.
ISO/IEC 17025:2017 includes requirements for laboratories to conduct risk-based thinking in their operations. Accredited laboratories are encouraged to read the article published in the August 2019 Synergist by Bob Lieckfield on how to apply risk-based thinking in laboratories.
Lieckfield is a senior consultant at Apex Companies, LLC and a member of the Analytical Accreditation Board.
SITE ASSESSORS NEWS
AIHA LAP is pleased to announce that Dr. Koh Yew Ming has been approved as an AIHA LAP site assessor for IHLAP after successfully completing all required instruction. Dr. Koh Yew Ming has extensive experience in industrial hygiene, food and environmental laboratory analyses for metals, organics, and inorganics analyses. Since 2015, he has been serving as Head of Technical Services at KLK OLEO, one of Malaysia's largest oleochemical manufacturers. He also has experience as a Research Officer in Doping Control Center, Malaysia (1997-2002) and for the Australian Laboratory Services (ALS) Group in Malaysia (2003-2015.) Dr. Koh Yew Ming also served as an internal auditor for several companies in Malaysia, auditing schemes for environmental, food, and industrial hygiene contract laboratories throughout Malaysia and Indonesia. Dr. Koh Yew Ming received his B.Sc. in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Malaysian University of Science (USM), Penang, Malaysia.
AIHA LAP is looking to expand its site assessor team and is seeking assessors, whether available part-time or full-time. As an AIHA LAP site assessor, you will have opportunities to visit laboratory sites all over the country and world, auditing them to ISO/IEC 17025:2017. AIHA LAP will provide the training needed to understand our policies and get started. Training refreshers are hosted yearly. If you would like more information and to inquire about the position, please contact Geneva Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to the following labs for becoming newly accredited AIHA LAP laboratories or for having new AIHA LAP programs added to their scopes:
To review the full list of our newly accredited and re-accredited labs each month, please check the AIHA LAP website.