AIHA LAP E-News 2021 Year-End Edition
Greetings AIHA LAP Accredited Labs and Stakeholders~
I hope that everyone continues to be safe and well. As we closed out what can only be described as a roller-coaster year, the AIHA LAP Team wants to express its gratitude to our accredited laboratories and stakeholders for your continued support. Having just finished our management review last month, I want to take this opportunity to share with you what we achieved in 2021:
- Our Site Assessors continued to build upon their knowledge and expertise around remote assessments conducting nearly 300 remote assessments since we began conducting them in 2020. LAP feedback indicates that Site Assessors and accredited laboratories generally view remote assessments favorably. A recent ILAC survey also shows global support for remote assessments. ILAC is looking to revise relevant ILAC documents and processes as appropriate, it says. So, we can expect remote assessments (in some form) to be around for years to come.
- By conducting remote assessments, AIHA LAP met the June 2021 deadline established by ILAC of accrediting all AIHA LAP labs to the ISO/IEC 17025:2017.
- Still, AIHA LAP put systems in place to evaluate potential risks of onsite assessments and was able to successfully complete a number of onsite and hybrid assessments when the risks to assessors and lab staff were considered low and tolerable.
- AIHA LAP continued to grow its environmental microbiology program and accredit labs under a new field of testing - RT-PCR (reverse transcription PCR) - within the molecular scope category. This FoT is for virus analysis and makes clear that some EMLAP accredited labs can analyze SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses on surfaces and in the air.
- AIHA LAP underwent a joint evaluation from ILAC regional bodies the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC) and the Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) in June - July 2021. It was a virtual audit that allowed evaluators from the United States, Peru, and the Philippines to conduct a comprehensive review of our processes, personnel qualifications, and site assessor competencies. The report is now being reviewed by our international colleagues.
- We hosted a successful week-long virtual meeting in March 2021 with staff, site assessors and volunteers to discuss many important topics and continue the dialogue on assessing labs during the pandemic.
- AIHA LAP continued its work with McKinley Advisors to gather market intelligence from technical experts and launched another survey to help inform AIHA LAP’s strategic directions. The research outcomes were used to conduct a LAP Staff Team retreat on implementing the LAP 5-Year Strategic Plan developed in 2020. The findings were shared with the Analytical Accreditation Board at its November 2021 meeting, and we will continue both internal and external conversations so that we can meet the needs of our accredited laboratories and their customers.
- We also worked with another outside contractor, 88 Brands, to gather market intelligence and develop a new, fresh logo and tagline for AIHA LAP that we expect to roll out in 2022.
- We conducted two successful Special Sessions at the virtual AIHce 2021. During the first session, AAB member Bob Lieckfield and I discussed risk-based thinking that can be used to identify, prioritize and mitigate risks both in a laboratory and at an accreditation body like AIHA LAP. The second session featured Assured Bio’s Technical Director Joshua Birkebak who shared case-studies to demonstrate how RT-qPCR analysis has been used by IH and EHS professionals in medical and commercial settings to inform decision making.
- On World Accreditation Day (June 9, 2021,) AIHA LAP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a Caribbean accreditation body—the Trinidad and Tobago Laboratory Accreditation Service (TTLABS.) TTLABS requested AIHA LAP’s assistance in helping them prepare to become a signatory of the Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) Multilateral Arrangement (MLA). AIHA LAP agreed to mentor the TTLABS staff on operations, technology, and assessment practices to help the newly established AB meet the rigors of becoming an IAAC MLA signatory.
- AIHA LAP completed the rollout of the online data management system to all accredited laboratory customers. This system provides a more efficient way for laboratories to submit their application, respond to corrective actions, and track the status of their application throughout the accreditation process. Labs are also able to pay their invoices through this new secure LAP Data Management System(DMS). A new “Print Invoices” tab has been added to the existing e-commerce functionality in DMS that allows laboratories to download and print their invoices before submitting payment, and user-friendly notification guides have been developed to prompt and instruct new and returning users on the many features/resources maintained within the system.
- We also began collecting proficiency testing data from our laboratories as their PT reports are received. This includes data from all schemes/vendors used by the laboratory for an accredited field of testing (i.e., Internal PT, PHENOVA, EMPAT). These submissions streamline the accreditation application process for reaccreditation and expedite the review of PT records during site assessments.
- We developed a quality system procedure and developed a companion automated process for staff (volunteers and assessors) to identify and manage AIHA LAP’s risks and opportunities including risks to impartiality.
As we look toward 2022, we expect to deliver the following:
- We expect to begin transitioning from remote assessments to onsite assessments using the risk-based approaches we used over the past year.
- After hosting virtual meetings for the past two years, we are excited to give our staff, site assessors and volunteers an opportunity to engage in a face-to-face meeting by having the 2022 LAP Annual Meeting in Tampa, FL in March 2022.
- AIHA LAP expects to finally announce the launch of a Beryllium Field/Mobile Accreditation Program in 2022 that will allow mobile units and field operations analyzing beryllium (outside of fixed-site labs) to be accredited. As well, we expect to continue to explore the possibility of developing a medical testing accreditation program (based on ISO/IEC 15189) which will prove useful for those labs seeking accreditation for COVID testing.
- We expect to conduct research around sampling accreditation that is now allowed under ISO/IEC 17025:2017 and move to establish both a standalone sampling accreditation program as well as sampling fields of testing under programs where it is appropriate.
- We will focus on technical education for our laboratories including the development of webinars and curating technical content to post online or disseminate in our E-News (see article/presentation below on wall deposits.)
- We expect to expand the LAP Team by adding two full-time positions in 2022 so that we can become even more efficient in processing accreditation applications and communicating with our laboratories and potential laboratory customers. We also expect to train and hire at least 7-9 new Site Assessors to not only cover our legacy programs but areas where expect to see new programs and growth like food, cannabis, medical and field/mobile accreditation.
- And last but certainly not least, we expect to roll out a brand new AIHA LAP logo and tagline in 2022 that will be included on our website, certificates, and other promotional material. With this re-branding or what we call a “brand refresh,” we want to tell our own story about who we are and what we offer but more importantly, we want to share with laboratories and their customers, the value of AIHA LAP accreditation
Like 2020, this past year has given us a sense of appreciation of what we have been able to accomplish with our site assessors, volunteers, and more importantly, our accredited laboratories. We could not be more optimistic and energized about the year 2022. We look forward to engaging with you -- our laboratories, volunteers, and stakeholders -- to serve the accredited laboratory community at such a critical time of change.
Happy New Year!
Cheryl O. Morton
IMPORTANT NEWS FOR LABORATORIES
In 2021, we accepted suggested policy changes that were considered by both the Policy Task Force and the Analytical Accreditation Board (AAB). Those final approved changes will be posted for stakeholder review and comment early in 2022 and any comments will be further considered by the Task Force and the AAB. We expect the final 2022 Policies to be published along with the revised 2022 Accreditation Application in March 2022. The Policies will be effective immediately and all AIHA LAP assessments including surveillance and follow-up assessments will be conducted against the 2022 AIHA LAP Policies. At that time, the revised Site Assessor Checklist will be sent to laboratories already accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2017. The latest revision of the Site Assessor Checklist is always available on your DMS dashboard by logging in and navigating into the LAP Document Library. For questions about the process for 2022 Policy Changes, please contact Lena Bulgakova at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 member of the Analytical Accreditation Board.
AIHA LAP encourages its labs (particularly industrial hygiene labs using certain NIOSH methods) to review a recently revised presentation from Martin Harper on Wall Deposits. Over the past several months, AIHA LAP has had an ongoing dialogue with AIHA’s Sampling Laboratory and Analysis Committee about this issue. Over the next year, AIHA LAP will be engaged in efforts to remind our laboratories of the importance of considering wall deposits in their analyses. Laboratories are encouraged to log on to DMS to download the Harper presentation from their Document Libraries. For more information about wall deposits, please contact Cheryl Morton at email@example.com.
SITE ASSESSORS NEWS
We are saddened to report that two AIHA LAP Site Assessors passed away over the past 18 months -- Moheb Kahlil and Bob DiRienzo. Mo (who covered IH and lead) passed away in May 2020 after a brief illness and long-time Site Assessor Bob DiRienzo (who covered almost all LAP programs) passed away suddenly in August 2021. We want to take this time to honor the life and legacy of these two dedicated assessors who were part of the AIHA LAP family. Both will be missed.
AIHA LAP continues to look for new 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 Cheryl Morton 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 reaccredited labs each month, please check the AIHA LAP website.