NEWS

We’re Supporting Willow Burn

We’re delighted to announce that we have selected Willow Burn Hospice as our chosen charity to support this year. And what better timing as they launch Willow Week (9-15 May); an annual fundraising and awareness week which was launched in 2020 to shine a light on the vital work of the hospice.

Willow Burn was founded over thirty years ago by two local women who recognised a need for improved end of life care for residents of rural County Durham.

Their aim is to relieve physical and emotional distress and control symptoms, provide care comfort and compassion at the end of life to embrace and support patients, and their families and friends to achieve this. Vital services include a range of holistic day care, in-patient services and family support and bereavement counselling services.

As a company with a philosophy of care at it’s core, we could think of no better pairing and look forward to contributing to the fantastic efforts of staff and volunteers at Willow Burn.

New and improved WAC Reporting

We have two developments coming online w/c 25 April.

We will be reporting Mineral Oil as C10-C40 Aliphatic as this is the definition of Mineral Oil and accepted by Hazwaste Online (Hazardous Waste Classification Software). There are some standards that link Mineral Oil to a total C10-C40 (Aliphatic + Aromatic) with clean up but until there’s further industry wide standardisation, we’ll be reporting Mineral Oil as C10-C40 Aliphatic.

Our new WAC reporting template builds on the existing format by including colour coding on the final results to identify potential failures against the three separate threshold levels for Inert, Stable Non-Reactive Hazardous, and Hazardous landfill acceptance. Each result will be colour coded based on the lowest threshold value that is achieved so that results can be more easily screened. All data will still need to be interpreted but with the use of the colour system it may help initial review and focus further investigation if needed.

Top Class Top Soil Reporting (BS3882)

Topsoil suppliers are required by the BS3882 standard to declare the results of Topsoil analysis including soil structure and classification. We’ve expanded our standard reporting for Topsoil classification (BS3882) to include a graphical representation of the textural classification based on the relative proportions of sand, silt and clay. The differing classifications of soil are marked out in green, with the area identified in the standard as being suitable for use highlighted by the blue shape. This will now be included as a second page in addition to the existing report format for Chemtech customers.

Changes to Asbestos Testing

Following changes to the HSG248 and UKAS Lab 30 guidance in July 2021, asbestos laboratories have been undertaking a transition to accommodate the changes in requirements and update the ISO17025 accreditation. From the 1 February 2022, dependant on a successful application and review process, most labs were awarded the updated accreditation and should now be in a position to provide identification and quantification services in line with the new standards. Any lab who did not meet the deadlines for the group transition will now be going through that process individually and timeframes for completion will be dependent on availability within UKAS to review and assess. The changes to the process include:

  • Stipulations on sample volumes to mandate a 1l container (to provide >1kg of soil), with also recommended minimum volumes of dried sample to then review under stereomicroscope. It remains feasible to process samples on smaller volumes but the indication should be given that the results may not be as representative of the whole. The inspection/review of a larger sample volume may have impacts upon costs, timescales for analysis and lab capacity
  • Previous method guidance included a ‘pinch’ test as part of the identification process, which the new documents have supplanted with a ‘drop’ test using the review of multiple slides prepared from a soil/water suspension and is considerably more involved than the method it replaces, adding both time and cost to the process and potentially limiting capacity
  • The processing of different types of asbestos analysis by an individual is scored based on a set of criteria established and updated in the standards, with the intent of limiting the amount of work one analyst can perform without additional review and checking. Some of the changes made may have an impact in reducing the number of samples an individual can process in a day and therefore limiting capacity
  • There are also a number of additional “invisible” changes to process which affect the data collection, data management and quality control performed by the lab which will impact upon the change process and also the ongoing performance. The ability to manage some of these changes will also impact the contract review process as the potential levels of service vary more than with historical analysis

All the incremental changes have and will generate increases in resource requirements in the asbestos testing sector, with more P401 trained and qualified analysts being needed. This has resulted in recruitment bottlenecks as the pool of workers is limited. Equally, there are limited options for the provision of training, leading to a potential issue across the industry in maintaining operation capacity.


Why the changes?
While the previous version of the documents/guidance provided detail on the performance of asbestos identification, there was less in terms of definitive guidance relating to the quantification – something that was attempted to be addressed by the development of the SCA Blue Book method between 2014 and 2018.Both actions are intended to provide more consistency across the industry and also provide ultimately a standard to which labs can be held and assessed. In HSG248 it has also been attempted to address the safety and assessment of site workers in a way not previously covered, with existing lab methods looking more at generating data with a view to longer term/end use risk assessment in the contaminated land industry.

Further changes?
Some changes instigated with the document updates are mandatory and will continue to impact the ongoing service, but others are recommended with the intent of improving the level of service and data across the industry. In an attempt to address some of the recommendations, various industry groups (AGS, EIC, JIWG, SoBRA, CL:AIRE) have looked to publish an additional standard method based around the SCA Blue Book and hopefully provide an alternative standard on which work can be based, a process which is ongoing and being led by labs and data users in the contaminated land sector.

Meet our new team member. We call him Technical Director. You can call him Will.

Will has been involved in analytical testing for around 25 years, working in environmental and pharmaceutical laboratories as part of both public and private sectors. As well as analytical work, Will has experience of Customer Service Management, Key Account/Project Management, Business Development, Technical Sales, QA/QC and Compliance, IT and LIMS development, with his most recent roles as Technical Manager and Quality Director at two of the UK’s largest commercial testing laboratories. Will is a regular guest speaker at a range of industry forums and events, and leads the laboratory steering group on behalf of the Association of Geotechnical and Geo-environmental Specialists (AGS) contributing to policy and standard method developments through the industry. Feel free to put him to the test. Ask a question. Any question…

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County Durham
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