Next-Level Accreditation
AIHA LAP Enters Year Two of Its Strategic Plan
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At the end of 2020, AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs (LAP) retained the services of a contractor to work with LAP and its Strategic Advisory Group to develop a five-year strategic plan based on the outcomes of a comprehensive survey and select interviews. In the middle of the pandemic and what can only be described as uncertain times, AIHA LAP remained committed to establishing its strategic plan, whose major tenets include improving awareness of the AIHA LAP brand, developing multi-faceted programs and services to meet the growing demands of laboratories and their customers, and building upon LAP operations. The plan was completed in 2021 and went into effect last year.
OUR NEW BRAND LAP started working in the autumn of 2021 with its accredited laboratories and other stakeholders to rebrand AIHA LAP. A modern logo was designed (see Figure 1) to reflect our anticipated growth into new areas while continuing to operate with the same level of excellence. More importantly, we developed a new mission statement to reflect AIHA LAP’s function of supporting the health and safety responsibilities of laboratories and their clients through programs that assess and affirm the performance of accredited testing laboratories.
We announced our new brand identity on World Accreditation Day, June 9, 2022. With this rebrand, we began to tell our story about who we are and the range of programs we offer, and to share with laboratories and their customers the value of AIHA LAP accreditation. We took the time to ensure that our new logo was included not only on our promotional materials and website but on every AIHA LAP accreditation certificate. LAP also directed resources to this effort by hiring a digital marketing specialist in 2022 to improve brand awareness and build our social media presence.
Figure 1. AIHA LAP's redesigned logo reflects LAP's anticipated growth into new areas while continuing to operate with the same level of excellence.

NEW PROGRAMS AND SERVICES With a new brand and a new way of thinking, we have been intentional about the second tenet of the strategic plan: developing multi-faceted programs to meet our customers’ needs and get to the next level of accreditation.
Field/Mobile Accreditation In partnership with the Beryllium Health and Safety Committee (BHSC), AIHA LAP developed a conceptually different kind of accreditation program for the analysis of beryllium. The Beryllium Field/Mobile Accreditation Program (Be Field/Mobile) was launched on May 15, 2023, with the release of AIHA LAP policy module 2G (PDF). Also released was a revised module 9 (PDF) incorporating new definitions related to the Be Field/Mobile program. Because of our collaborative work with the BHSC, we are confident that mobile and field units analyzing beryllium that achieve accreditation under module 2G will be able to meet certain Department of Energy requirements. Furthermore, accredited units—each of which will be audited and will receive a certificate with its own lab identification number—will be able to rely on quality management systems from affiliated fixed-site laboratories while demonstrating their competency and proficiency at the mobile and field units.
LAP is now accepting applications for Be Field/Mobile accreditation, but that is not where our mobile accreditation offerings will end. We are planning to develop another standalone field/mobile program in 2024 so that laboratories seeking accreditation for other analytes using the Be Field/Mobile “mothership” approach can also be accredited. And since ISO/IEC 17025:2017, General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories, allows for mobile accreditation, AIHA LAP will be accrediting other standalone mobile labs that demonstrate compliance with the ISO standard and AIHA LAP policies (including proficiency testing requirements). Mobile accreditation is available under all AIHA LAP legacy programs; for example, mobile units that analyze mold on site are starting to seek accreditation under the Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program.
Focus on Food Lab and Unique Scopes Accreditation In talking to stakeholders, we learned that most were unaware that AIHA LAP accredits food labs even though we’ve had a Food Laboratory Accreditation Program (FoodLAP) in place since 2000. While only a few food labs currently participate in FoodLAP, we expect to accredit more in the coming years now that we’ve been formally recognized to accredit laboratories for the Food and Drug Administration’s Laboratory Accreditation for Analyses of Foods (LAAF) Program. LAAF was established to support accredited laboratory testing when called for by FDA as it responds to issues related to food safety. LAAF-accredited labs are allowed to test food under these circumstances, usually during food recalls. AIHA LAP is now accepting applications from labs that want to be accredited to LAAF so they can conduct food testing on behalf of FDA. Those laboratories already accredited under FoodLAP can add LAAF to their scopes and may not need another onsite assessment.
Likewise, most of the stakeholders we interviewed were unaware of LAP’s Unique Scopes Accreditation Program, which is for laboratories seeking accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 only. The Unique Scopes program currently covers a range of testing categories, including cannabis, consumer products, and forensics. AIHA LAP expects an increase in accreditation for cannabis testing labs under Unique Scopes as these labs will need to continue producing reliable data for this relatively new area, which is not covered by our legacy programs.
Like all other AIHA LAP-accredited laboratories, those seeking Unique Scopes accreditation must be able to demonstrate compliance with the requirements found in the appropriate AIHA LAP policy modules, including module 2A (PDF) and module 6 (PDF).
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES TO COME AIHA LAP continues to expand our services to increase the value of accreditation. In the coming months, look for new developments in the following areas.
Sampling We are most excited about our plans to make sampling accreditation available to professionals who conduct sampling for accredited laboratories. Customers of accredited labs have told us for years that sampling accreditation would make them feel more confident about accredited testing results. We are currently conducting research to better understand the role sampling plays in analytical testing and how best to accredit this activity as a field of testing or a standalone activity. By the end of the year, we will have identified technical experts, best practices, assessment techniques, and program requirements for sampling under both accreditation approaches.
Outreach to Labs In the fourth quarter of 2023, LAP’s digital marketing specialist will launch a new outreach and education program that will help LAP-accredited labs promote their services on their websites and social media sites. This new program will increase engagement and collaboration with our labs, resulting in the creation of exclusive technical and visual content.
Sensor Technology AIHA LAP is also working with an outside contractor to explore our future in the sensor technology space. Using input from AIHA volunteer groups and other stakeholders that we have not traditionally worked with, we expect to determine if a Sensor Technology Laboratory Accreditation Program is feasible and to develop criteria for AIHA LAP to accredit laboratories that will be performing sensor device performance testing.
Innovative Analytical Approaches AIHA LAP’s Analytical Accreditation Board (AAB) will continue to review new and innovative analytical techniques, many of which include artificial intelligence, to determine if and how to integrate these new approaches into accreditation. As AI continues to dominate the news, the AAB believes that review and validation of new analytical methods is important to ensure that they can contribute to reliable testing outcomes.
BUILDING UPON OPERATIONS Feedback from stakeholders also affirmed that our laboratory customers are generally pleased with the services they receive from AIHA LAP, and our data management system received very high marks. Still, the strategic plan calls for LAP to build upon our well-established operations. We intend to do that through risk-based thinking and ethics training.
Risk-Based Thinking Like our accredited laboratories, AIHA LAP must comply with an ISO standard (ISO/IEC 17011:2017, Conformity Assessment—Requirements for Accreditation Bodies Accrediting Conformity Assessment Bodies), which includes language on risk-based thinking that is similar to the requirements in ISO/IEC 17025. As an accreditation body, we have developed an approach to identify and manage risks and opportunities. We plan to do more training around risk-based thinking not only for our assessors, volunteers, and staff, but for our accredited labs. (For practical tips on applying risk-based thinking in laboratories, read the article “Pure Management” in The Synergist.)
More importantly, LAP’s approach to implementing its strategic plan allows us to consider risks around new accreditation programs or activities so that resources are deployed in a more strategic, efficient, and ISO 17011-compliant manner.
Ethics Training ISO/IEC 17011 also includes language on impartiality and confidentiality, which AIHA LAP takes very seriously. We took the proactive step of working with a Canadian accreditation body to develop a business ethics training program for our site assessors, volunteers, and staff. The course includes informative case studies so that participants can better understand the circumstances during which real or potential conflicts of interest may exist and how to treat information in a confidential manner. AIHA LAP is keenly aware that conflict of interest and confidentiality are extremely important for those who access sensitive laboratory information during the accreditation process. We will look for ways to make ethics information available to our accredited laboratories as well.
SOUND DECISIONS As we implement the second year of our strategic plan, we look forward to venturing into new types of accreditations and emphasizing some of our lesser-known programs like FoodLAP and Unique Scopes. But AIHA LAP will always remain committed to its one-of-a-kind industrial hygiene accreditation program as it prepares to commemorate 50 years of IHLAP accreditation in 2024. The customers of all AIHA LAP-accredited labs can continue to count on their data to make sound decisions in the workplace, the environment, and our communities.
We want to hear your perspectives on new or planned programs and welcome your input at any time. Feel free to speak with AIHA LAP staff, respond to a survey, or email me to share your thoughts about current or planned activities.
CHERYL O. MORTON is the managing director of AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs LLC.  All AIHA LAP programs are managed to conform to the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011:2017, while laboratories seeking accreditation must conform to the requirements of the ISO/IEC 17025:2017 in addition to program-specific requirements as detailed in AIHA LAP policies. AIHA LAP has full membership and recognition status by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and two ILAC regional bodies: the Asia Pacific Accreditation Program (APAC) and the Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC).   
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AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs: “Policies and Guidelines.”
The Synergist: “New Requirements for Labs: Laboratories and Accreditation Bodies Tackle Revised ISO Standards” (August 2018).
The Synergist: “Pure Management: How to Apply Risk-Based Thinking in Laboratories” (August 2019).