A2LA Today June 2019 Newsletter

News

In This Issue...


RJ Lee Group, Receives A2LA's 5000th Certificate

By Tommy Flynn, Marketing Coordinator

We are proud to announce RJ Lee Group, Inc. as the recipient of A2LA’s 5000th certificate of accreditation. The certificate was awarded to RJ Lee Group’s Columbia Basin Analytical Laboratories (CBAL) in Pasco, Washington after the lab was assessed against ISO/IEC 17025:2005, the 2009 TNI, and the requirements in the DOE QSM Version 5.1.1. The laboratory successfully demonstrated technical competence in the field of environmental testing.

To celebrate A2LA’s 5000th certificate, we wanted to share a profile of the company that helped us achieve this milestone.

RJ Lee Group was founded by Richard Lee in 1985 when an economic downturn caused his former company to  eliminate its research and development department. Seeing this as an opportunity, Lee  recruited his former colleagues to work with him at his new materials characterization laboratory and consulting firm.

Forty years later, Richard Lee’s pursuit of that opportunity has transformed the startup into an industry leader in the areas of laboratory testing, software development, forensic engineering and failure analysis. RJ Lee Group’s team of scientists use research and expertise to tackle complex scientific issues around the globe. Built on the core values of integrity, quality, service and teamwork, the company works hard to ensure that they generate high-quality results and, ultimately, make the world a better place.

A large provider of failure analysis, RJ Lee Group has researched causes and provided solutions to many well-known world issues. Projects have included investigation and recovery into 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one of the largest oil spills in history. The impact of these projects are far-reaching; for instance, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill resulted in RJ Lee Group successfully determining the causes for the rig’s explosion, information which helped settle numerous lawsuits around the situation.

RJ Lee Group also conducted air analysis in response to the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. Through the use of scanning electron microscopy, the team examined over 100,000 dust samples. During its investigation, the group created a database composed of the different types of air particles including asbestos, carcinogens and other contaminants.

“The database we created at the time is actually still in use by scientists today to help continue to resolve the problem,” noted Paul Ioannidis, RJ Lee Group Vice President of International Business and CBAL Laboratory Director.
RJ Lee Group is credited with the development of several notable innovations over its lifespan. The organization teamed up with SIMCO Technologies to create software dedicated to predicting the service life of concrete. The program stands out for being the only service life prediction software recognized and specified by the United States Navy. An air sampler designed and built by RJ Lee Group is currently in use for environmental monitoring on the International Space Station. The PTR-MS, another innovation, is a mobile environmental monitoring unit allows scientists to conduct real-time air testing to detect VOCs and other contaminants, including the presence of the chemicals that make up explosives and illegal drugs.
 
The company also earned recognition for innovations related to microscopy. RJ Lee Group developed the first generation of the Personal Scanning Electron Microscope, which significantly reduced the size of an SEM. The company also created computer-controlled scanning electron microscopy software, allowing users to more efficiently identify and characterize individual particles. These technologies have since been widely adopted within the scientific community.

Once again, congratulations to RJ Lee Group for sharing this milestone with us. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!


World Accreditation Day – A2LA and the Importance of Accreditation for Supply Chain Management

By Dyana Cernicky, Accreditation Officer

World Accreditation Day is a multi-national initiative established to raise awareness on the importance and value of accreditation. Celebrated annually on June 9, it is led by the efforts of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperative (ILAC). The theme for 2019, Accreditation: Adding Value to Supply Chains, focuses on accreditation’s importance as an essential tool used in today’s complex and global supply chain system.

Modern global trading markets make it increasingly difficult to manage the quality and safety of supply chains. The fast product-to-market turnaround times have placed dramatic pressures on the confidence of supplies and services procured. Each player in the global market has its own set of requirements, time constrictions and regulatory needs. What may be acceptable in one area of the world may not be acceptable in another. What are global manufacturers to do?

In today’s global economy, the relevance, requirements and acceptance of Accreditation, varies by industry. Accreditation in educational institutions is different than in healthcare, which is different from the automotive sector. When it comes to supply chain management, accreditation plays an important role in ensuring that everything from raw materials to individual parts and sub-assemblies used in the production of a final product conform to all relevant specifications. The process of evaluating things like raw materials, parts, sub-assemblies, and final products to demonstrate fulfillment of specified requirements is referred to as conformity assessment. There are countless conformity assessment activities behind every product that you use on a daily basis. Whether it’s measuring the dimensions of a precision part, making sure your airbag deploys safely and correctly, making sure your food is safe to eat, or that there is no lead (Pb) in your children’s toys, conformity assessment is critical to our economy and our lives. The more critical the product is (i.e. the more likely a failure could cause injury or death or damage) the more critical it is to have confidence in the conformance of the product to the relevant specification. Hence, the concept of Accreditation is brought into the fold.

Accreditation, which is conducted by third-party organizations known as Accreditation Bodies (AB’s), attests to the technical competency, consistent operation, and impartiality of organizations performing conformity assessment services (such as testing, calibration, inspection, and product certification) to internationally recognized standards. This is accomplished by using technical experts to perform an evaluation of the organization performing the conformity assessment functions. Organizations who perform conformity assessment services are called conformity assessment bodies (CAB’s). Accreditation provides confidence the CABs meet a certain level of quality, traceability, accuracy and competency, which thereby instils confidence in their results; which ultimately is reflected in safer, higher quality products being sold to all of us.

AB’s, such as A2LA, are also evaluated against international standards to demonstrate their competency to accredit other organizations. Through a peer review process, AB’s are evaluated against ISO/IEC 17011 – Conformity assessment – Requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies and once proven competent, sign a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) with other AB’s from around the world. These agreements ensure that a conformity assessment body accredited by one AB has equivalent competence to carry out the same conformity assessment tasks as a conformity assessment body accredited by the other AB(s). This allows the ease of trade across borders by reducing the costs associated with retesting and governmental/regulatory oversight. It helps to reduce potential business risks associated with global supply chains across all industries. Accreditation is a vital tool for supply chain managers to control their costs, risks and outsourcing opportunities.    

Imagine a world without accreditation. How would a business know that the goods or services it procured met the specified requirements it requested? How would it determine that those raw materials or manufactured parts outsourced from places outside its jurisdiction were authentic? How would governments or regulatory bodies possibly be able to carry out all the necessary laboratory testing, inspections and certifications necessary to keep the public safe? And as a consumer, how would you know that the products or services you purchased met the levels of standards necessary to keep you free from harm? Luckily accreditation does exist and using it provides the assurances necessary to answering those questions along the supply chain system.

Join A2LA in recognizing the importance accreditation plays in delivering “A Better World Through Accreditation” and making this a safer world to live in.


A2LA Announces Formation of New Company, A2LA WorkPlace Training

On June 3, 2019, A2LA announced and celebrated the formation of a new company, A2LA WorkPlace Training (A2LA WPT). Instructor-led public and contract training, previously offered by A2LA, will now be offered through A2LA WPT.  A2LA will continue offering its world-renowned accreditation services in compliance with ISO/IEC 17011, as well as membership in the Association and the annual Technical Forum event.

A2LA WPT was established as a non-profit organization with the vision of being the leading management system, conformity assessment, and measurement training company in the world. The mission of A2LA WPT focuses on providing independent, world-class training programs that inspire confidence in the quality of service and acceptance of results from organizations.

“By creating a separate legal entity from A2LA Accreditation Services and offloading our training offerings, we have established clear boundaries of operation and better adhere to the principles of impartiality mandated by ILAC and IAF. Additionally, A2LA cannot provide consulting services, due to restrictions in ISO/IEC 17011 requirements, so the formation of the new company establishes necessary separation to maintain impartiality while also filling a much-needed niche in the conformity assessment community,” said Trace McInturff, A2LA Vice President, Accreditation Services.

To learn more about A2LA WorkPlace Training and its offerings, visit its new website at www.A2LAWPT.org.


Marijuana and Hemp Legalization and Accreditation

By Randy Querry, Director of Government Relations

The legislative landscape across America is ever-changing as we witness the legalization of cannabinoids and cannabinoid-based products. As of this writing, June 10, 2019, Illinois became the latest state to legalize marijuana for adult use for adults over 21, joining ten other states and the District of Columbia.  Medical marijuana is now also legalized in 33 states. This past December the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives approved the 2018 Farm Bill which included a hemp legalization provision. This action removed hemp from the federal controlled substances list and leaves it up to states to regulate the hemp industry within their jurisdictions.

Independent, third party accreditation provides a significant service to this relatively new and vibrant industry, as appropriate testing is critical to demonstrate that products do not contain harmful levels of contaminants or adulterants, and that they comply with specified requirements of each state. Examples of the types of tests that are being conducted include but are not limited to: Cannabinoid testing and content (CBC, CBD, THC etc.), Terpene profile, pesticides, fungicides, residual solvents, heavy metals and microbiological contaminants such as mold, insects, bacteria, etc.

We encourage states, as they draft rules for testing to rely on existing accreditation schemes. If you currently work in a state that is proposing new legislation or rules and you wish to provide comments, the following provides an example of recommended language that may provide you with a start:
    
    “…every hemp or cannabis cultivation facility and hemp or cannabis product manufacturing facility shall contract with an independent ISO/IEC 17025 Accredited testing laboratory or sampling facility to sample and subsequently test the hemp and hemp-derived products or cannabis and cannabis-derived products produced or processed by the licensed facility. All operations that perform testing of hemp or hemp products or cannabis or cannabis products must be approved by the department and accredited to the ISO/IEC 17025 standard; the assessment and accreditation process must be carried out by a non-profit accreditation body that is a signatory to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) Mutual Recognition Arrangement operating in conformance with the ISO/IEC 17011 standard.”

This is not a one-size-fits all statement and it will need to be tailored for the specific bill or rule being proposed, but the statement does provide the basis to initiate a response.  

As the reliance on laboratory testing grows, the need for proficiency testing providers offering relevant proficiency testing schemes and reference material producers offering certified reference materials also increases. Similar legislative language can be adopted for these conformity assessment bodies as well.

Please do not hesitate to reach out at rquerry@A2LA.org with government-related questions.


Cannabis Customer Corner:

By Anna Williams, Senior Accreditation Officer

As the legalization of cannabis continues to be adopted by more and more states across America, it is important to ensure that the public can be confident in the end product that they use.  A2LA is engaged in ensuring quality and compliance in this industry, as evidenced by our ever-growing presence in industry groups, influence on state regulations, online and in-person training, strategic partnerships, and publishing free educational content.  In order toTo demonstrate why accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025 is important in the cannabis industry, as well as why A2LA’s cannabis testing laboratories have chosen us as their provider of Accreditation, we sought feedback from Mr. Myron Ronay, CEO of Belcosta Labs.

 

 

 

Q - Can you give me a summary of your company?
A - BelCosta Labs was founded in 2017 with the premise of providing quality, consistent, and accurate analytical testing to the Cannabis industry.  BelCosta Labs was one of the first cannabis labs in Southern California.  We offer all cannabis testing required by the State of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control.  
Q - How did your company get involved in the cannabis testing space?  
A - Based on what happened in other states we knew that lab testing was going to be an area that was going to be a bottleneck in the supply chain.  We built an amazing science team from within the cannabis space, as well as outside the industry, to develop our laboratory methodology and systems.   

Q - Why did your company initially choose A2LA over another accreditation body?  
A - We knew that A2LA held themselves to the highest standards and has actual experience in laboratories.  We knew that the assessors that came to assess our lab would challenge us to ensure we hold Quality Assurance to the highest standards.  We want to be legally defensible as cannabis testing evolves into a mature industry.  Going the easier route would not ensure that we were compliant.

Q - What are some reasons why you have remained an A2LA customer?  
A - We hold ourselves to the highest standards in the industry, and we expect our accreditation partner to hold themselves to these standards as well.  We are not a company that is willing to cut corners and, in an industry that is rampant with inexperience, we knew that the only way to hold our feet to the fire was to challenge ourselves to be accredited and continuously accredited by A2LA.

Q - What is one piece of advice you would give to a potential or current cannabis testing laboratory as they look into accreditation?
A - I would advise the lab that as this entire industry develops into a standard regulated industry, it is not worth the time and effort they put into building a laboratory to cut corners on accreditation.  Challenge yourself to ensure you provide accurate, repeatable results.


InCal Technologies, Inc.

Congratulations to InCal Technologies, Inc. on renewing its A2LA Accreditation to the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025:2017! This laboratory is accredited for its abilities in the field of calibration.

When InCal Technologies sent us a celebratory group picture, we were thrilled to see that the lab still sports its old-school “A2LA Accredited” banner, symbolizing their longtime relationship with A2LA. We are proud to have a customer like InCal Technologies who has maintained accreditation since 1998 when it originally went by the name Universal Inspection. They can even be found in our classic A2LA accreditation directories!

Under the guidance of InCal president Lee Lambert, InCal has operated with a strong commitment to quality, efficiency, and high-level customer service. The entrepreneurial spirit of both Lambert and his team has acted as a driving force propelling InCal toward success over the years.

Check out what InCal Technologies Quality Manager James Sabin had to say about the recent renewal of accreditation:
“We are thrilled to have completed the transition to the new ISO 17025: 2017 Standard, and truly appreciate the wonderful support and guidance from our A2LA Accreditation Officers, Tiffany Greer and Frenika Rivers, and our Assessor, Jim Miner, as we worked through the process!

We were able to not only achieve Accreditation, but we expanded our Scope simultaneously by having the Assessor on-site to validate our calibration processes for Inductance, Durometers, Temperature, Infrared Thermometers, Tachometers, and Stopwatches.

The Accreditation was challenging, but the effort was well worth it to ensure we are providing our customers the very best in Calibration and Inspection Standards in the industry!”

Thank you to InCal Technologies for being such great customers over the years!

To view InCal Technologies’ certificate of accreditation, please visit http://bit.ly/2Ws1WTO and search for Certificate # 1332.01.


New Employees and Milestones

We are mid-way through the year and A2LA has been lucky enough to welcome several new staff members to our team, including a new group of summer interns.  

  • Meredith Jensen joined in calibration team in April as an Accreditation Officer.  Meredith received both her B.S in Biology as well as her M.S in Psychology from Purdue University. Her recent experience includes time spent as an Accreditation Research Manager at American Psychological Association (APA) in D.C, as well as time spent as a Research Technician at Vivolac, a bacterial cultures manufacturer in Indiana.
  • Kimberly Cooley joined the finance team as an Accounts Payable Specialist in April.  Kim has nearly two decades of accounting and finance experience from several organizations including the IRS, Holiday Retirement, and Element Vehicle Management Corporation.  She holds a degree in Chemistry from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.
  • Natalie Rhoderick joined A2LA in May as an HR Generalist.  Natalie has experience working as an HR department of one at Hi-Tech Fasteners, Inc., as well as a variety of HR intern roles during each summer of her college career that included generalist functions through more specific functions like recruiting.  She holds her BS in Human Resource Management from Towson and as well as SHRM-CP (SHRM Certified Professional – HR) certification that goes above and beyond the four-year degree that demonstrates application of HR policies and strategies).  
  • Kelly Beach joined A2LA in June as the first official Event Manager in history.  Kelly comes with 25+ years of experience with event management, holding both a CMM (Certificate in Meeting Management) and CMP (Certified Meeting Professional).  She has experience working with both for- and non-profit organizations and managing events that attracted anywhere from ten through thousands of attendees.  She has worked for a number of organizations, many of which are Frederick-based, helping them with their own events, conferences, and tradeshows.  She currently works as a contracted event manager, helping many organizations like ours manager their events.  Kelly will be supporting A2LA WPT training events and the A2LA Tech Forum.
  • Julie Keyser was welcomed on as an Accreditation Officer ion the life sciences team. Julie received her B.S. in Biology from Bluefield College and her recent experience includes time spent as a Manufacturing Technician for several labs in the DMV area.
  • Kate Querry is interning for A2LA for a third year in a row, this time for A2LA WPT.  When not with A2LA, Kate is pursuing her MD at the University of Pittsburgh.  
  • Brooke Miller also returned for a third year in a row and continues to support the HR department.  After the summer is over, Brooke will return to West Virginia University to continue her studies in Human Resource Management.
  • Lauryn Mitchell is interning in the Accreditation Services department and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Cognitive Science at Elizabethtown College.
  • Paul Schimeck is also interning in the Accreditation Services department and is pursuing his degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan Flint.  
  • Genevieve Moorhead is supporting the Marketing department as an intern this summer.  She is pursuing her Communications degree (Public Relations track) at Salisbury University.  
  • Harrison Grandgenett is interning in the Finance department this summer.  When he returns to the University of St Thomas in September, he will continue pursuing his degree in Business Management-Financial Management/Marketing.
  • Payton McInturff just recently graduated from high school and is stepping up to the task of helping all departments of A2LA.  When he is finished this summer, Payton will help his mom (Gina) hold down the fort while his dad (Trace) travels the world to support A2LA’s mission.  

We are happy to have Natalie, Meredith, Kim, Julie and Kelly (not pictured) to our growing team and look forward to seeing where their A2LA career takes them! 

We are excited to have Paul, Harrison, Lauryn, Payton, Brooke, Genevieve and Kate with us for our third year of our summer internship program!  This program is open to all but is offered to friends and family of our staff first.  We love seeing both returning and new faces and hope that each intern will leave at the end of the summer with skills and knowledge that will help them well into their professional careers.  

If you or someone you know is interested in employment with A2LA, please check out our openings on our career page to learn more about any available positions or sign up for our job alert notifications at www.A2LA.org/careers.

Employee Milestones:

April

  • Adam Philp, Senior Accreditation Officer – 5 Years
  • Terrianne Martin, Accreditation Officer – 1 Year

May

  • Frenika Rivers, Accreditation Officer – 1 Year

June

  • Kessa Jules, Accreditation Officer – 1 Year

New & Updated Documents

By Carrie Whitaker, A2LA Quality Manager

A2LA is preparing to publish revamped accreditation checklists, forms, policies, instructions, guidance, and requirements documents in A2LA’s document management system – Qualtrax – over the coming weeks, with an expected transition date of 06/28/19. These have been formatted to contain updated hyperlinks within the new online document management environment to provide easy navigation to other referenced documents and will be replacing the current versions available in the A2LA partner/customer portals (a.k.a.Touchstone) once completed.

This change is being enacted to improve availability of documents so that any changes published by A2LA will be immediately available to all users – A2LA staff, Assessors, Accreditation Council members and Customers in our system – in real time.

What will change when publication occurs and how will that impact you?

  • Newly published documents will have a new look and format for the headers/footers but will essentially have the same content and presentation as you are currently used to. If any content has been updated, you’ll be able to reference that information in the revision table at the end of the documents as you did previously.
  • For initial publication, you may notice a difference between the date of Publication versus the last date of Revision – presenting accurate activity date tracking is a strength of the software system and is unalterable. For example, the header may say 06/28/2019 while the last revision history will read 09/30/2018.  Therefore, A2LA cannot back-date the system publication date to match any revision dates prior to a document’s publication in the system. Once a subsequent revision of a document is published in Qualtrax, these dates will match up.
  • Fewer documents will be available on the A2LA public website because your status as an A2LA accredited customer (or accreditation applicant) provides direct, continuous access to the most updated versions of these documents in the Touchstone accreditation management portal.
  • A2LA will expect that your organization is accessing the Touchstone portal to obtain your applicable A2LA documents. If your organization needs to add additional user accounts, your organization’s Authorized Representative may do so by initiating a change request through your A2LA customer portal or contacting your assigned Accreditation Officer. To keep your frequently used documents handy, we recommend that you ‘bookmark’ those documents for easier navigation.  

As with any shift, there is potential for instances where your access or document presentation may temporarily hiccup, but A2LA’s IT staff and Quality Manager will work diligently to fix any and all errors that present in the transfer. Please report any issues to your assigned Accreditation Officer and he/she will notify appropriate internal staff about the issue.
   


 

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A2LA Today June 2019 Newsletter

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