Spring 2020 Newsletter
The AIHA LAP Team’s thoughts are with everyone affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As an accreditation body, we have to comply with an ISO standard—ISO/IEC 17011:2017—that requires us to be engaged in risk-based thinking just like our accredited labs. At the onset of the pandemic, we moved quickly to identify and address potential risks from the crisis to our accreditation activities. We began to execute a contingency plan that included making immediate adjustments to our site assessment schedules in response to the ever-changing situation. We first postponed all scheduled site assessments in high-risk regions, and, in early March, we discontinued all on-site assessments altogether and began to conduct only remote assessments. To help our laboratories understand and prepare for remote assessments, we posted an FAQ document and a video on our website. We also posted additional information on COVID-19 resources on a COVID-19 page that we added to the AIHA LAP website.
To minimize risks to staff, the AIHA LAP Team has been working from home since March 13 and will continue to do so until we receive guidance from public health officials in Virginia on when we can safely return. Please know that the LAP Team continues to be available to you. You should feel free to email or call us during normal business hours. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can.
Our priority has been and will always be the safety and well-being of everyone involved in our accreditation program including our laboratory customers. Please contact the LAP staff should you have any questions about a site assessment that is scheduled or upcoming over the next couple of months or anytime this year.
Stay healthy and safe during these unprecedented times.
AIHce EXP 2020—AIHA’s annual conference and professional development courses—originally scheduled to take place in June 2020 in Atlanta will move to a VIRTUAL ONLY format. The virtual conference will take place online June 1–3, 2020, with virtual PDCs offered June 4–5 and 8–12. AIHA and its Board of Directors made the decision based on health and safety guidance regarding COVID-19 from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other health and safety professionals. For more information, please visit AIHce EXP’s website.
AIHA LAP will present a virtual session at AIHce 2020 entitled “Applying Risk-Based Thinking in Laboratories” on Wednesday, June 2, from 10:30 to 11:30 AM. With ISO/IEC 17025:2017, laboratories now have to take responsibility for defining and organizing their activities in a risk-based manner, which is especially important during the current COVID-19 pandemic. This session will explore how laboratories can identify, prioritize and mitigate risks in a testing laboratory as well as how laboratories can identify opportunities for improvement. Robert (Bob) Lieckfield, Jr., CIH, FAIHA will be the session presenter. Bob is a member of the Analytical Accreditation Board (AAB). Go to the AIHce website to register for this year’s Virtual Conference. Other AIHce 2020 virtual education sessions are listed on the AIHA.org calendar.
To make it clear to potential customers that certain AIHA LAP laboratories can analyze SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses, LAP has added analysis of viruses using RT-PCR to the Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program’s Molecular Scope Category. Some EMLAP labs that analyze viruses on surfaces and in air that are already accredited within the Molecular Scope Category will soon add viruses to their scopes. For more information on how to gain accreditation for analysis of viruses under the EMLAP Molecular Scope Category, or for help in finding a qualified microbiology lab that can conduct PCR analyses for viruses, contact Drake McGregor.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that due to the COVID-19 public emergency, it is extending the comment period for the Laboratory Accreditation for Analyses of Foods proposed rule to July 6, 2020. The proposed rule calls for laboratories accredited by an FDA-approved accreditation body (AB) to be recognized by FDA to conduct food testing. To be approved by the FDA, the AB must have signatory status under the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement, and food testing laboratories will have to be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2017. As an ILAC MRA signatory, AIHA LAP will seek FDA approval once the program is established, creating opportunities for FoodLAP laboratories to conduct food testing for FDA. Contact the LAP Team for more information on AIHA LAP’s food testing program (FoodLAP).
The editors of the NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) have opened a customer satisfaction survey about the 5th edition of the NMAM. Survey results will be used to help focus future method development activities, improve NMAM methods, and identify website content or features in need of improvement. The survey is anonymous, and no individually identifiable data will be collected, published, or released. AIHA LAP-accredited laboratories interested in providing feedback should complete the survey online.
Thank you to our stakeholders (accredited laboratory staff, volunteers and assessors) for taking the time to participate in a series of phone interviews and the LAP Survey, which closed on Wednesday, April 8. We are pleased to report that we had an excellent response rate for the survey. Now that this work is done, the LAP Strategic Advisory Group will delve into the full report and analyses of the survey findings and work with the contractor (McKinley Advisors) to draft the Five-Year LAP Strategic Plan. For more information, please contact Cheryl Morton.
Laboratories accredited under AIHA LAP’s Environmental Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELLAP) for lead paint analyses are participating in an international survey to identify lead testing laboratories worldwide. The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, led by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization, requested AIHA LAP’s assistance in the global survey. The results will be compiled in a database accessible by all countries. The Alliance is working with EPA to prevent exposure to lead from paint, especially among children and workers, by phasing out the manufacture, sale and import of lead paint. It recently published a set of model laws (“Model Law and Guidance to Regulate Lead Paint”) that call for a supplier’s declaration of conformity based on testing by accredited laboratories recognized by an ILAC MRA signatory like AIHA LAP. ELLAP-accredited labs should contact Cheryl Morton for more information about this global effort or to receive a copy of the survey.
June 9th marks World Accreditation Day 2020. Established by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the International Accreditation Forum, World Accreditation Day is celebrated each year to raise awareness of the importance of accreditation activities. This year, the focus of World Accreditation Day will be on the role of accreditation in improving food safety. A video and additional information are available from the ILAC website.
We encourage all AIHA LAP accredited labs—especially those accredited under FoodLAP—to post the official poster on their websites.
AIHA LAP is seeking qualified volunteers to fill positions on the Analytical Accreditation Board (AAB) and the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) serving terms that will begin in March 2021. The AAB is responsible for approving laboratories for accreditation and reaccreditation once site assessments are conducted. AAB members are also responsible for approving and drafting accreditation policies. TAP members advise the staff and AAB on technical laboratory matters and review accreditation packages for all major programs. All applications for the AAB and TAP must be submitted by July 30, 2020. Further details, including the AAB/TAP application, are available from the LAP website.
AIHA LAP is pleased to announce the appointment of two new site assessors:
- Michael Moore, who goes by the nickname Mickey, has a diverse background in laboratory analyses, quality, and sampling. Throughout his career, he has performed internal and external lab audits, and has overseen auditors assessing environmental, health, safety, and security requirements at international chemical sites. He is currently the quality manager of the Quality Assurance Unit at Wright-Patterson AFB where his unit oversees the quality management system covering their industrial hygiene/lead lab, radioanalytical lab, dosimetry lab, radiation calibration lab, and various support units.
- Stepan Reut is a professional analytical chemist who has specialized in industrial hygiene testing and air quality analysis since 1999. For the last 17 years, he has managed various AIHA LAP-accredited laboratories as a technical or quality assurance manager. Dr. Reut holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, a master’s degree in chemical engineering, and a doctoral degree in chemistry. Stepan Reut is the first Canadian to join the AIHA LAP site assessor ranks.
Congratulations to 2020 AIHA LAP Award Winners
AIHA LAP’s Annual Meeting was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 crisis, and although productive meetings were held virtually, AIHA LAP was unable to recognize the volunteers and assessors who made significant contributions over the past year. Since then, all deserving award winners have been notified and AIHA LAP is formally congratulating:
- Site Assessor Gary Griffin, who received the Evan Campbell Award for his outstanding work;
- TAP member Denise Mattingly, who received the Newton Whitman award for the number, scope and quality of TAP reviews she had conducted; and
- past AAB chairperson Beth Bair, who is the recipient of this year’s Harriotte Hurley Award for her leadership of the AAB and her role on key projects over the past year.
Congratulations to the following laboratories for becoming newly accredited by AIHA LAP:
AIHA LAP’s full list of newly accredited and reaccredited labs is available from the LAP website. The list is updated monthly.