Summer 2020 Newsletter
We hope that each of you and your families and colleagues continue to be safe and well. I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on where we stand regarding site assessments and other efforts taking place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Site Assessments: In response to the global pandemic, the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) announced that it was establishing a new deadline of June 2021, by which ILAC-recognized accreditation bodies (like AIHA LAP) are required to have all labs accredited to the 2017 version of ISO/IEC 17025, General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories. Still, AIHA LAP’s goal is accreditation of all its labs to the new standard by the end of 2020. While AIHA LAP can grant extensions for assessments, our preference is against doing so unless it is absolutely necessary.
Remote Assessments: Since most AIHA LAP on-site assessments have been canceled until further notice, we will continue to conduct remote assessments. All our site assessors and staff have been trained on up-to-date remote assessment procedures that can involve the use of document sharing software and web-based video technology such as FaceTime, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and WebEx. Our assessors also meet once a month to exchange ideas on remote assessment techniques and best practices. We want to ensure that AIHA LAP’s remote assessments are conducted with the same technical rigor as our on-site assessments. Please keep in mind the following if you have an upcoming remote assessment:
- If your laboratory is scheduled for a remote assessment, you will first be screened to determine your readiness for remote assessments. Laboratories that are not prepared will have their assessments postponed until they are ready.
- To help our laboratories understand and prepare for remote assessments, we posted a 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 ensure confidence in our remote assessment process, all assessor reports will be reviewed by a member of our Technical Advisory Panel. We are also scheduling a surveillance assessment following all remote assessments so that AIHA LAP can have even more confidence in the remote assessments conducted for each laboratory.
- Since the necessity to conduct assessments only remotely could last through 2021, we need your feedback now more than ever. Please complete the post-assessment survey, for which a link will be sent to you following the conclusion of your assessment and be sure to add specific comments about your experience. As well, feel free to email me or anyone on the LAP Team at any time to share your thoughts. We will personally reach out to the labs that we do not hear from for feedback as the year progresses. This feedback is very important as it will help us improve the process and helps us with training.
On-site Assessments: As states and regions begin to reopen, AIHA LAP will resume some on-site assessments using a risk-based approach. Through an online survey, we will collect exposure-related information from both the assigned site assessor and the laboratory. This approach will be used in rare circumstances where you and an assigned site assessor want to move forward immediately with a full onsite or blended remote and onsite assessment. All decisions regarding whether we can proceed with a wholly or partly onsite assessment will be made on a case-by-case basis. As always, please contact your accreditation specialist if you require assistance or wish to discuss specific issues with an upcoming remote or on-site assessment.
SARS-CoV-2 Added to EMLAP and FoodLAP: To clarify to customers that certain AIHA LAP laboratories can analyze SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses, AIHA LAP has added analysis of viruses using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to the Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program and FoodLAP’s Molecular Scope Categories.
Some EMLAP labs that analyze viruses on surfaces and in air are already accredited within the Molecular Scope Category, and will soon add viruses to their scopes. Contact Drake McGregor at email@example.com or at (703) 846-0739 for more information on how to gain accreditation for analysis of viruses under the EMLAP or FoodLAP Molecular Scope Categories or for help in finding a qualified microbiology or food lab that can conduct RT-PCR analyses for viruses
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (703) 846-0789 if you have you have any questions about or need more information on remote assessments or any of AIHA LAP’s actions related to COVID-19.
Cheryl O. Morton, AIHA LAP Managing Director
AIHA LAP will commemorate its 10th anniversary of becoming a signatory of the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement. The organization signed the Inter American Accreditation Cooperation Agreement in Rio de Janeiro on August 22, 2010. Thank you to LAP volunteers, site assessors, and accredited laboratories for helping staff achieve this important goal and maintain this recognition for 10 years. As a way of saying thank you, AIHA LAP accredited labs will receive a complimentary copy of the August 2020 Synergist magazine—the laboratory edition—in the mail, if they have not received it already. Happy ILAC MRA Anniversary, AIHA LAP!
AIHA is considering adding a laboratory testing track to AIHce EXP 2021 which will offer content specifically for attendees working in laboratory settings or interested in laboratory testing and standards. If you are interested in making an in-person or virtual presentation at AIHce EXP 2021 about content related to this topic area, please submit a proposal to AIHA by September 23 indicating “Laboratory Testing Track” using the checkbox question listed. Your input will assist AIHA staff and the Conference Program Committee in determining if there is demand for this new track. Please contact Cheryl Morton at email@example.com or (703) 846-0789 for more information.
The updated version of an AIHA University course, Developing and Maintaining a Laboratory Quality Management System, is now available. Through this self-study course, learn the basic elements required for an effective laboratory quality program and a QA/QC program system compliant with ISO/IEC 17025:2017 and accredited by bodies such as AIHA LAP.
Congratulations to the following laboratories for their accreditation by AIHA LAP:
To review AIHA LAP’s full list of newly accredited and reaccredited labs each month, click here.