Our technical team have developed robust procedures that cover every stage of our UKAS accredited asbestos testing process. Quality control is important at sample receipt, right through to report release.

Asbestos analyst in coveralls and mask

Opening asbestos sample packages

Our employees open all sample packages with bare arms in a safety cabinet. These cabinets have negative pressure and high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. If a customer fails to correctly package a sample, this practice prevents exposure to asbestos fibres.

Sample quality check

Our team check each asbestos sample. They ensure that they are double bagged and that the outer bags do not feel dusty to the touch. If a sample is not double bagged, we double bag the sample on our client’s behalf. Should the sample bags be dusty, our team will wipe the dust off and treat this as asbestos waste. We take safety seriously. We record all instances of quality inspection issues and contact our customers to address the issues.

Our team check many other parameters including:

  • The number of samples and their numbering.
  • That the sample details match the samples contained within the bags.
  • The sample sizes. If too small, the sample won’t be representative and we can’t test it. If too large, then we may need to brake it in to a smaller piece which poses as a potential exposure risk.
  • That our customer has defined what tests they need.

Points system

Each sample material has a different, allocated point score. These scores are based upon the difficulty associated with analysing each material type. Our analysts record all samples analysed within TEAMS, our database. They detail the sample score, sample type and the test result. The cumulative points total provides a total points score at the end of the day.

Our UKAS accreditation dictates that analysts should only test up to 60 samples per day, or reach up to a maximum of 70 points. This upper limit promotes accurate test results. It helps to ensure that our analysts spend enough time testing negative and challenging samples.

Internal quality control

According to ‘Asbestos: The Analysts’ Guide for Sampling, Analysis and Clearance Procedures (HSG 248)’ the laboratory must implement a quality assurance programme. This should ensure all analysts are performing at an acceptable level. Scientific Services meets this requirement through a number of mechanisms:

Daily internal quality checks (IQC)

When an analyst reaches a cumulative total of 40 points, our asbestos testing team complete extra checks. Every 5th sample analysed needs to be re-analysed. Another authorised analyst is required to complete this analysis which is referred to as repeat sample fatigue (RSF). These checks are called internal quality checks (IQCs).

Monthly internal quality control (MIQC)

On a monthly basis our Quality Manager selects a number of pre-analysed samples. These are analysed by each authorised analyst.

In-house technical competence check

On an annual basis all analysts are subject to an in-house technical competence assessment. A senior member of our technical team complete this. They ensure that working methods are safe. They assess the accuracy of test results and ensure compliance with procedures.

External proficiency schemes

Scientific Services participates in an external proficiency scheme called the Asbestos in Materials Scheme (AIMS). Run by the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), this assesses our ability to accurately test asbestos samples. They supply a set of pre-prepared samples. The results for these samples are unknown. Each member of our asbestos testing team analyse the samples and submit their results. The results are then assessed by the HSL and they provide a rating to illustrate our performance.

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