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Update on Remote Assessments

As we all reacted to COVID-19 back in March of this year, the CALA Accreditation team sprang into action to […]

As we all reacted to COVID-19 back in March of this year, the CALA Accreditation team sprang into action to deliver services to our customers.  Higher priority were those laboratories that still needed to transition to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 or those laboratories that required scope extensions.  While some assessment techniques already existed to service the needs of our laboratories – for example, document review for extensions of scope – it became increasingly obvious that CALA needed to develop and implement a remote assessment process.

Relying heavily on international guidance documents, the CALA Policy on Remote Assessments (A140-01) and Guidance for Laboratories on Remote Assessments (A140-02) were developed.  Some intrepid assessors conducted the initial assessments and provided feedback which greatly assisted in the development of processes and procedures.

To date, CALA has delivered 42 remote assessments.  Overall feedback from laboratories and assessors alike has been positive.

In the words of Ms. Stephanie Folz from AquaTox Testing & Consulting Inc. (Puslinch, ON):

Nothing beats being on site to do an audit, but under the circumstances, we feel that the remote assessment was well planned, executed, and thorough. We were able to screen share requested documents with the assessor with ease….we appreciate CALA giving us the opportunity to conduct our assessment remotely for the safety of everyone involved.

We anticipate that COVID-19 will eventually go away, but remote assessments – as another assessment technique – are here to stay.  While the intent is not to replace on-site assessments, the processes that have been developed and implemented are proving to be a useful mechanism to provide oversight and confidence in certain circumstances, and will no doubt be useful in other scenarios going forward.

Risk – to CALA, our customers, and our laboratory’s customers – is a top consideration in the decision to deliver an assessment remotely. While most of the remaining visits in 2020 are being conducted remotely, there may be circumstances where an on-site visit will be conducted.

Kudos to our volunteer assessor pool for enthusiastically embracing the technology and continuing to volunteer through these challenging times.  And, thank you to our accredited laboratories for their cooperation and feedback.

Colleen Cotter
Accreditation Manager

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