CHERYL O. MORTON is managing director of AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs, LLC. She can be reached at (703) 846-0789 or via email.
A Look Ahead for the Laboratory Community
New Symbols, Revised Standard Could Affect Laboratories and Their Clients BY CHERYL O. MORTON Those who rely on laboratories accredited by AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs, LLC should be aware of several changes our laboratory community is experiencing this year. These changes include newly adopted accreditation symbols and the potential impact of revisions to the ISO/IEC 17025 standard due later this year.
UPDATED SYMBOLS Once a laboratory achieves accreditation, it has the option of entering into a license agreement with AIHA-LAP that allows the lab to use an AIHA-LAP accreditation symbol. In February 2017, AIHA-LAP made available updated accreditation symbols that many laboratories are already starting to use. The program-specific symbols cover each of AIHA-LAP’s lab accreditation programs, including environmental lead, environmental microbiology, food, industrial hygiene, and unique scopes. Accredited laboratories that opt to use these symbols have until February 2018 to incorporate them into applicable laboratory documents. AIHA-LAP encourages laboratories that have invested the time, effort, and resources to obtain accreditation to properly display these symbols in advertising to help customers select the right laboratories to meet their testing needs.
AIHA-LAP is the owner of its accreditation symbols, which are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Until the current symbol is completely phased out, both the current symbol and the new set of symbols will be registered. Accreditation symbols are program-specific and can only be used for programs and scopes for which a laboratory is accredited. Lastly, an accredited laboratory’s ID number must be used with the accreditation symbol. The ID number is a unique identification number tied to a specific laboratory location and the specific AIHA-LAP program and analyses performed at that laboratory. MISLEADING ADVERTISING A laboratory that has opted not to undergo the rigorous accreditation process for a specific AIHA-LAP program should not market itself as accredited in that program. AIHA-LAP considers this to be misleading to customers, and our policies are very clear that accreditation symbols cannot be used in a misleading manner.
An example of misleading advertising would be displaying a lab ID, accreditation statement, or symbol for a specific program in an ad or on a website for services not covered by a laboratory’s accreditation. It’s also considered misleading to use lab IDs, accreditation statements, or symbols on reports that have unaccredited test results without indicating the non-accredited tests. Labs shouldn’t use AIHA-LAP accreditation symbols or statements in an ad or on a website that lists all of a laboratory’s locations but does not indicate which sites offer which types of accredited services.
AIHA-LAP does not accredit products, so lab IDs, accreditation statements, or symbols should never be used on product packaging or package inserts. Continued use of a lab ID, accreditation statements, or symbols for a suspended scope or program is not permitted.
AIHA-LAP staff, volunteers, and site assessors work hard to ensure that our accreditation programs are reputable, credible, and valuable to all who seek accreditation. Advertising and marketing in ways that obscure whether a laboratory is accredited for a particular service or in a particular location devalue the accreditation program in the eyes of customers—and that’s the last thing that we or the laboratory community want.
We look forward to working with our laboratories and customers to strengthen the value of AIHA-LAP accreditation for all of our accredited labs. Please contact me if you have questions about the new accreditation symbols or find any inappropriate use of AIHA-LAP symbols or the AIHA-LAP logos, which only we are allowed to use.